Are you ready for some football? How about some tailgating? Each week in this space, we are going to talk about tailgating: the who, the what, the how and maybe even the why. Although, we know why. To some, tailgating is as important as the forward pass or making that 50-yard field goal to send the game into overtime. Tailgating is uniquely American, but many southerners may not know or want to hear that tailgating traces its roots back to the Civil War as civilians brought baskets of food to a friendly game of horseshoes between the Union soldiers.
Today, tailgates may be more elaborate on the surface, but they still remain to be a show of team support, a social activity and a reason to indulge in some good food and drink. Let’s start out 2012 with a bang and take a look at some regional spices and flavors you can use to “kick off” the tailgate season in style.
You don’t need to have the Saints, LSU, Tulane or one of the directional schools in Louisiana coming to town to give your tailgate the flavor of New Orleans. If you want to buy a great rub or sauce, try the Rib Sprinkle or Butt Rub put out by The Joint restaurant in New Orleans. You can order it online and you’ll get multiple meals or tailgates out of one box. It’s BBQ, “Big Easy” style.
You can also make your own version with this simple recipe. Take your beef or pork ribs, add in at least 3 tablespoons of chili powder, 3 teaspoons of black pepper, a couple pinches of salt, 2 teaspoons of onion powder, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of thyme and a teaspoon of oregano. This is your rub. Let the game begin!
The Badgers or Packers don’t have to be coming to town for you to add beer flavor into your tailgate. Add a can of beer into your chicken rub along with garlic, olive oil and red/black pepper to get melt-in-your-mouth poultry. Sticking with the beer theme, cook your brats in any of Milwaukee’s great beer offerings and don’t forget about Wisconsin beer cheese soup for your next tailgate.
Memphis is one of the BBQ capitals of the world and pulled pork with some Memphis BBQ is always a touchdown. Some of the best BBQ in Memphis can be found at the Bar-B-Q Shop. This shop sells its Dancing Pigs BBQ sauce in the restaurant and online. While the sauce can be used on beef, chicken, ribs or fish, it’s best on pulled or chopped pork. This sauce comes in mild or hot, so see what you and your guests’ taste buds are up for. Remember to leave enough time for your Memphis-style BBQ to cook as it’s best slow cooked. Wet or dry, Memphis BBQ always seems to bring tailgaters back for seconds.
Taste of the Carolinas
Get ready for the Panthers, Tarheels or Gamecocks with a tasty Carolina-style BBQ sauce. In the Carolinas, pork is coated with a thin sauce made with vinegar, and a sweet component is added to balance out the vinegar. Tarheel Premium is a great choice for Low Country BBQ fans. Use it on pork or chicken cooked over hickory coals or wood chips.
You can’t talk about Cuban food without an instant smile forming. The combination of cumin, garlic and citrus with Mexican and Mediterranean oregano is sure to attract a crowd to your tailgate. This rub will even impress Miami Hurricanes and Dolphins fans, and they see the best Cuban food down in South Beach. Add in some yellow rice and plantains and you’re set.
Whatever your taste and wherever you are from, make sure you have your spices ready for tailgating season. And as we do in the South—always be sure to bring enough to share with your neighbors.
Rick Limpert is a freelance writer/photographer in Atlanta and he loves covering anything Falcons-related. His work can be found at Examiner.com.