Your local park, college or other major landmark is bound to be shooting off some fireworks to wish America a Happy Birthday. It happens to also be my birthday so this holiday is especially important to me. Tailgating doesn’t just have to involve sports, although if you want to head to the Bronx to see the Yanks or to Beantown for some green monster experience, that’s always fun times had by all. Whatever the occasion, a good tailgating party can be a world of fun and easy to put together with a few helpful tips.
Keep it simple and do most of your preparation at home. Who wants to lug two gas grills, mixing bowls and all the ingredients with them? I know the new fad is to go all gourmet with lobster and steaks, but I say, what’s wrong with a good old-fashioned American cookout? It can still be just as fabulous. You can easily use a charcoal grill to roast weenies or burgers. To make it gourmet, use Kobe beef and bring a variety of nontraditional toppings like homemade herb aioli and caramelized onions. Add some homemade potato salad, a pot of beans and some chips with dip and you have yourself a tailgating party.
Another good idea is the finger foods, as there most likely will not be a table to sit at. You can make kabobs out of almost anything and the skewers can be tossed away for easy clean-up. Use chicken and pineapple, beef tips and cherry tomatoes, portobello mushrooms and eggplant. Make a variety and prepare them ahead of time at home. All you have to do is fire up the grill and throw the skewers on. Remember to soak wooden sticks in water before spearing any food items. The wood will burn on the grill if not properly soaked.
For dessert, try something traditional like strawberry shortcake or fondue. Strawberry shortcake is one of the most easily prepared dishes and can be served individually. Use already cut biscuits from your local supermarket and buy locally grown berries for the sweetest taste. Cut all berries ahead of time, toss with a bit of sugar to draw out the juices and keep fresh in plastic containers. You can make your own whipped cream if you plan on serving it immediately but it probably won’t hold up with travel time. Buy a can of organic whipped cream and set up all ingredients buffet style. Then people can build their own treat. Fondue is easily prepared as well by mixing chocolate chips with cream and then heating. Most fondue pots come with their own Sternos that will last all day. Cut up pieces of fruit, Rice Krispie treats and pound cake for dipping. Also great to use are marshmallows and pretzels.
Let’s not forget the beverages. A cooler full of beer is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Mixed drinks such as Cosmos or Mojitos now come pre-mixed and you can find them at most liquor stores. Remember to bring the ice and serve up the libations.
It’s a good idea to pack a folding card table with chairs and a radio for some tunes to vibe to. All of the items will easily fit in a trunk or the back of a pickup truck.
Follow these tips for a slammin’ summer tailgating party. And feel free to share your tips, ideas and tailgating stories, too!