On a basic level, grilling isn’t terribly difficult. Once you’ve got your grill prepped and ready to go, the simplest foods (i.e. hot dogs) can be cooked with relative ease by the novice. But the best tailgating cooks know that there exist techniques that greatly enhance the outcome of grilled goods while maximizing time spent socializing. Make the most of your tailgating outings – both on and off the grill – with these tips.
Get organized – If you’re a tailgating regular (or plan to become one), being organized is essential. Get yourself a plastic storage container and keep the necessities stocked; paper towels, disinfecting wipes, trash bags, matches or lighters, utensils, etc., should be stocked and ready to go on a tailgating excursion.
Prep ahead – The evening prior to a tailgate should be spent preparing your menu. Marinate your meat, chop your veggies and make your snacks. Marinating overnight infuses great flavor into your meat, chopping any veggies saves you the trouble of doing it the morning of and snacks like Chex Mix are ready to go in no time. By working in advance, you can avoid the hassle of preparation on-site and can avoid the necessity of bringing excess tools. And perhaps most importantly, the less you have to do at your tailgate, the more time you can spend socializing with fellow football fans. Also, with Minnesota being chilly during the football season, the least amount of exposure your bare hands have while preparing food to the biting temps will make you a happier tailgater.
Know your grill – Whether you’re cooking with gas or charcoal, you should always keep tabs on the temperature of your grill. If you’re cooking with gas, keep the temperature at a toasty medium. High temperatures are for searing, not cooking. If charcoal is your preferred method, pay attention to the coals; when they start turning gray and ashy (approximately 30-45 minutes) you’re ready to grill.
Grilling meat – Not all hot dogs were created equal; some dogs are meant for the grill and some aren’t. While tossing a dog on a grill may seem like a no-brainer, you should put some consideration into what brand or type of hot dog to serve your tailgating buddies. Also, everyone expects hot dogs from a tailgate party. Surprise your fellow fans with some more gourmet options. Places like Jordan Meats & Deli in Woodbury and Nelson’s Meats in Hopkins will send you off to the lots with nothing but the best.
Play it safe – The ultimate goal of tailgating is to bond and socialize with friends and family while enjoying your favorite sporting event. Nothing dampens the tailgating spirit quicker than food poisoning, so use common sense when cooking. Keep hot things hot and cold things cold. Bring along clean containers to store leftovers. Don’t pre-cook meats at home; this may seem like an excellent time-saving idea, but can actually increase the likelihood that you’ll be spending the next few days hugging the bowl. Hand sanitizer is a necessity. Make sure meats are fully cooked. A meat thermometer is a good way to ensure internal temperatures are high enough to destroy bacteria.
Keep these tips in mind and your tailgating crew will not only enjoy a delicious meal prepared by you, but will have more time to enjoy your company.
Check out Tailgate Fan to keep the party going at tailgatefan.cbslocal.com.
A Minnesota native that was born and raised Up North, Minneapolis is where Christina Kalinowski currently calls home. Christina appreciates irony, loves bacon, enjoys a hearty libation (drink responsibly, folks), and is an avid proponent of the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.