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Tailgate Tips: How to Have the Football Party of the Season

It’s that time of year again! The time of year where old rivalries seem to kick into high gear, and friends bond together with team spirit. As you cheer your favorite football team to victory, you may want to gather your friends outside the stadium, in your backyard, or around the TV to enjoy the sport as a group.

One of the best parts of any football experience is the tailgate. Tailgating before a game, gets everyone excited for the helmet crashing, pigskin tossing ahead. To help you give your guests the football party of the season here are a few tips.

Plan your food ahead of time

It’s just not a party without great food, but as your team takes the field, you do not want to be busy in the kitchen or behind the grill cooking up delicious meals for your friends. Planning your food ahead of time can help.

Start by creating easy finger food. This food will be easier to eat while people mingle with fellow fans, or taunt the opposing team’s fans. They are also safer in case your guests spill.

Popular tailgating foods include:

  • Sliders – These miniature hamburgers grill up quickly and give your guests or fellow tailgaters the classic taste of football season. Their small size makes them easy to eat and carry around the party. They’re less messy, and look great on the plate.
  • Coleslaw – This is an easy side dish to bring along to a tailgate or make ahead of time to serve in your home. Keep it chilled for the duration of the game over ice so your guests can keep coming back for more.
  • Chips and dip – Serving up chips with a tasty dip makes munching during timeouts easier. Set out a variety of types of chips and dips. For example, serve tortilla chips with salsa, guacamole, or queso dip.

Stock your cooler

Football is a sport that typically involves cracking open a cold brew or two. As you stock your cooler, choose beers that will honor your team and still be enjoyed by your fellow tailgaters.

Stocking up the cooler with a variety of beers is a surefire way to keep everyone’s thirst satisfied. Here are a few suggestions to find the right drinks for your guests.

  • Go Local – Buy the beer that best represents the hometown of your favorite team to pay homage to their time on the field. Buying local beers from around your area supports your team and your local economy.
  • Mix and Match – Mixing beers to form a cocktail is a popular pastime. Try buying beers that you can mix and match. For example, make a black and tan with Guinness beer and a pale ale.
  • Have a Light Option – Football games are long, and drinking heavy beer for hours on end can leave your guests feeling full, tired, and sluggish. Offering a light beer can prevent your guests from overindulging.
  • Premix cocktails – Cocktails, such as bloody Marys, are also popular game day drinks. This is especially true if your game has an early kickoff. Premix your bloody Mary mix and keep it in the cooler as an easy drink your guests can fill up with.

Tailgating parties are a fun pastime for many football lovers. To keep planning and preparation as simple as possible, you may want to have your Tucson personal chef make your food ahead of time. This way, you can focus on game day instead of stressing over keeping your guests full and happy as they cheer your team to victory!

Regardless of how you decide to celebrate each game this football season, you should have the right food. Here’s one of my favorite tailgate recipes to get you started.

Grill Spareribs with Dry Rib Rub

Makes 2 slabs
Total time: about 3 ½ hours mostly unattended

2 slabs pork spareribs (3 lb. each)
2 tablespoons each chili powder, black pepper, and kosher salt
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1or 2 bottles of your favorite BBQ sauce (I like to use Bull’s-eye Original)

Preparing: Sometime you can buy ribs already prepared. If that is the case, skip ahead to the last line of this paragraph. When using spareribs, remove the skirt or flap of “extra” meat on the bone side of the slab, then flip the ribs over and remove the breast plate, the rounded “humped” portion, from the top. This makes the slab more uniform in size so it cooks evenly and the ribs are easier to eat. Remove the sinewy membrane on the underside of the slab. Trim off excess fat and pierce the ribs with a fork before applying the rub.

Rub: Combine all seasonings in a bowl and rub onto ribs.

Roast: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Seal the ribs on a baking sheet with foil, crimping it around the edges so steam can’t escape; the steam keeps the ribs from drying out. Place the covered ribs in the oven and slow-roast them for about 2 hours. Start checking the ribs after 1 ½ hours in the oven. If the meat has pulled away from the bones, you’re ready to grill. Continue roasting, checking them every 15 minutes, until ½ - 1 inch of the bone is exposed.

Grilling: Preheat half of the grill to high and leave the other half unlit to maintain a grill temperature of 300-400 degrees. If you want to make it easier on yourself, cut the slabs in half so you can flip them easily on the grill. Slather the ribs with sauce and arrange them, sauce side down on the unlit portion of the grill. Every 10-15 minutes slather the top of the ribs with sauce and flip them to place the freshly slathered side down. After an hour, slide a skewer into meat – if it goes in easily, the ribs are done. If not, keep grilling until tender.