IT’S GAAAAAAAAAME DAY!!!!!!!!!!!! From the first kickoff of the college season until the Super Bowl every Saturday and Sunday would begin the same way at our house. It would begin with me throwing my son’s door open early in the morning and yelling at the top of my lungs “IT’S GAAAAAAAAAME DAY!!!!!!” He’d roll out of bed, wander downstairs where it would begin:
Son: Hey Dad
Son: Hey Dad.
Son: Hey Dad.
Me (in exaggerated exasperation): WHAT!!!!!
Son: IT’S GAAAAAAAME DAY!!!!!!!!
Then we would spend the rest of the morning practicing our game day chants. Everything from DEFENCE, to booing the refs. And of course we would work a couple of Ball State fight songs in there too. Yes, my wife is a SAINT!
Well we no longer do all those shenanigans, but our love for game day has not subsided. What hasn’t changed is our love for game day food. We are constantly on the lookout for the best game day grub. After all we have a reputation to uphold. Here’s a list of the criteria that our food must meet before it’s deemed Tailgate Town Approved:
It must be good
It can not be too healthy
It must be able to be completely prepared in under 2 hours OR
It must be able to be made ahead to travel, and re-heat well.
It must be able to be consumed using ONLY disposable items.
So if you’re the home team or are taking it on the road, here’s a list of some of our tried and true recipes. But before you begin cooking here’s some tips if you need to know how much to figure for your guest. How much do I cook for a crowd?
Let’s start with what most people think of when they think of game day food. The brat. Done right it’s a thing of beauty, done wrong it’s a burnt on the outside, raw on the inside nasty mess. If you’re going to cook them, then cook them right and serve them with pride. Cooking the Perfect Sausage.
Want chicken wings without the bones? Yea, me neither. Want great chicken taste that pairs well with bacon? I thought so. Give our Bacon Wrapped Buffalo Chicken Bites a try. Because you just can’t wrap a chicken wing in bacon.
How about shaking things up a bit. Break away from the norm and go Greek with Grilled Steak Gyros, who knows, you may have a new hit on your hands.
Nothing says game day, like chili. It’s a perfect make ahead, holds well, and feeds a crowd. So why not smoke it and when you do make it Smokey Chili?
Of course if you’re going to serve Smoky Chili, you need a proper cornbread to go with it. So you may as well whip up a batch of Smoky Jalapeno Cornbread.
Bourbon isn’t just for your glass, these little darlings were the hit of Tailgate Town this year. BBQ Bourbon Sliders.
Maybe tiny little burgers aren’t what your looking for. Well we’ve managed to hit the other end of the spectrum too. With our GINORMOUS Dodd Squad Over the Top Burgers.
These pork loin sandwiches will put a McFast Food’s sandwich to shame. Not only are they far superior, but they are a great make great. If you make them ahead, leave them on warm in a crock pot with plenty of sauce they will only get more tender. A GREAT Pork Loin Sandwich.
Here’s another fantastic make ahead that holds well. It has a great kick and an excellent flavor profile, with the added benefit you don’t need to worry about your guest choking on bones or wiping their fingers on your new sofa. A Talegate Town Approved Buffalo Chicken Sandwich.
Probably our #1 side that we get ask for again and again. If you’re invited to a party and want to bring a side, go big or stay home. Warning this thing is VERY ADDICTIVE. Cheese, smoke, spice, and bacon. True story (like a pitmaster would ever lie), we broke one of these out in Tailgate Town this year and had strangers leaving money on the table and helping themselves. This is one of the recipes I’m most proud of. Apple Smoked Cheddar and Bacon Cheese Ball.
Got a chili head for a friend? You know the kind of person who no matter how spicy you make it, it’s never hot enough? Toss a couple of our Habanero Bombs their way. They’ll never admit it but trust me they’ll be impressed.
Here’s another twist on that oh so wonderful marriage between smoke and cheese, Smokey Queso Dip. Again this is a great make ahead, holds well, reheats well, and travels well.
This isn’t your typical Italian meatball sandwich, in fact the only thing Italian about it is we made the meat into balls. What makes this a good game day recipe is that the meatballs can be made ahead and left to simmer in the BBQ sauce until you’re ready to serve. Chipotle BBQ Meatball Sandwich.
I saved the best for last.This is the king of all the BBQ party foods. It’s just too perfect, it’s cheap, it can be made ahead, even frozen, travels outstanding. I’ve fed as few as 5 with it and as many as 200. All that and it has a very forgiving learning curve for the beginner, and yet can still bring joy to the veteran pitmaster. I give to you: PULLED PORK. Just be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to make it. I might even recommend making it the day before. How anybody can smoke butt and pull pork.
Well, time for me to head back into the ol’ test kitchen. Remember what you cook isn’t nearly as important as who you cook it with.