Let’s be real, y’all — we sure do miss tailgating. With sports restarting, but mostly without fans, we’ve all got to make the best of the hand we’re dealt.
That’s why we’ve pulled together a whole mess of our favorite food and drink recipes, snacks, and easy (but awesome) set-up ideas for the perfect at-home tailgate.
Every at-home tailgate is a little more spirited with a tasty Dixie Vodka cocktail.
BACON AND SWISS BURGERS RECIPE
Serves 6 Hands-On: 25 minutes | Total: 45 minutes
Cooking on a flat surface allows the beef patty to cook in its own juices, a key element to The Grill’s signature burgers. The best way to emulate this process at home is to cook the burgers in a cast-iron skillet, resting the skillet right on top of the grill grates. (You could of course, do the same thing on the stovetop.) Mike has a special term for cooking burgers, saying he “squishes” them using two large flat spatulas. One would never do such on a regular grill, as the juices would be lost to the fire, but this technique works perfectly on the flat surface, as the juices surround the burger throughout the cooking process, delivering unrivaled flavor and texture.
2 pounds 80/20 lean ground beef
12 strips bacon, cooked crisp
2 cups shredded Swiss-American cheese blend, or whatever you prefer
6 sesame seed buns
For garnish: mayonnaise, green leaf lettuce, tomato slices, dill pickle chips
- Open the bottom vent of a charcoal grill completely. Light a charcoal chimney starter filled with charcoal. When the coals are covered with gray ash, pour them onto the bottom grate of the grill. Adjust the vents as needed to maintain an internal temperature of 350º to 400ºF. (If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high [350º to 400ºF].)
- Meanwhile, loosely form the beef into six 1/3-pound patties. (The cooks at The Grill use a standard size ice-cream scoop to measure.)
Place a large, seasoned cast-iron skillet on the grill grate over direct heat and preheat the pan for 1 minute. Add three of the patties to the skillet and smash each once with a spatula. Cook undisturbed, uncovered, for 31/2 minutes to develop a sear. Flip the patties, smash again, and then slide the spatula underneath each to free it from the surface. Cook the patties for an additional 31/2 minutes, or until cooked to desired preference.
- Evenly distribute the bacon and cheese blend among the patties, cover the grill, and cook just until the cheese has melted. Remove the patties. Repeat for the second batch.
- Working in batches again, add the buns to the hot skillet, cut-sides down, and toast in the pan drippings until lightly browned, about 1 minute.
- Evenly spread mayonnaise on the cut sides of each toasted bun, add the patties, and top with the garnishes. Serve.
TWO-STEP BEER BRAT SLIDERS WITH MUSTARD RECIPE
Makes 6 sliders
Hands-On: 35 minutes | Total: 1 hour, 10 minutes
My wife Callie hails from Wisconsin, so I’ve had my fair share of brats. When we first met, her friends and family had me confused, inviting me over for a barbecue, yet serving me brats. Over the years I’ve been able to convince her crew that they are in fact grilling out, and not barbecuing. True Cheeseheads will tell you to first plunge the brats in a mixture of beer and onions, poaching them over the fire until just cooked through—a technique that helps them soak up more delicious flavor while keeping them juicy. After that, it’s all about getting that crispy char on the exterior, something you’ll easily achieve over direct heat. Serve the sliders with plenty of tangy mustard and a cold beer, of course.
1 large (11-ounce) sweet onion, thinly sliced
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 (12-ounce) bottle pale lager beer (such as Moosehead)
2 tablespoons coarse-grained mustard, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 (4-ounce) bratwurst links
6 (2-ounce) mini hoagie rolls (such as King’s Hawaiian mini-sub rolls), split and lightly grilled
- Stir together the onion, thyme, beer, mustard, vinegar, honey, and salt in a cast-iron skillet; submerge the bratwurst links in the mixture.
- Open the bottom vent of a charcoal grill completely. Light a charcoal chimney starter filled with charcoal. When the coals are covered with gray ash, pour them onto the bottom grate of the grill. Adjust the vents as needed to maintain an internal temperature of 350º to 400ºF. (If using a gas grill, preheat to medium [350º to 400ºF].)
- Place the skillet with the bratwurst mixture on unoiled grates in the center of the grill. Grill, covered, until the bratwursts are cooked through, about 30 minutes.
- Remove the bratwursts from the skillet; set aside. Move the skillet to the perimeter of the grill and cook the onion mixture, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat; remove and discard the thyme.
- While the onion mixture cooks, place the bratwursts directly on oiled grates. Grill, uncovered and turning occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Slice each bratwurst in half crosswise at an angle.
- Spoon 2 tablespoons of the onion mixture into each split roll; top with a bratwurst half and a dollop of mustard. Arrange brats on a serving platter.
CAJUN WINGS RECIPE
Serves 6 (4 or 5 wings per person)
Hands-On: 30 minutes | Total: 30 minutes
This is my preferred spin on Buffalo wings, just made a bit better with some Cajun love. Start with a dry rub of traditional Cajun and Creole ingredients (in a pinch you can use your favorite Cajun seasoning blend). The grilling technique that I use with all my wing recipes is key here. You want to start the wings over direct heat to get the skin golden and crispy, and then finish over indirect heat. I like to toss these guys in Crystal hot sauce mixed with melted butter. The dry rub and sauce are a one-two punch that makes these wings winners.
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 pounds chicken wings (about 13 wings), wing flats, drumettes, and tips separated, and tips discarded
1 (6-ounce) bottle Crystal hot sauce
1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cubed
- Stir together the salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, black pepper, and cayenne pepper in a large bowl. Add the wing pieces and toss to coat.
- Open the bottom vent of a charcoal grill completely. Light a charcoal chimney starter filled with charcoal. When the coals are covered with gray ash, pour them onto the bottom grate of the grill, and then push to one side of the grill. Adjust the vents as needed to maintain an internal temperature of 400º to 450ºF. Coat the top grate with oil; place on the grill. (If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high [400º to 450ºF] on one side.)
- Place the hot sauce and butter in a saucepan and place on the oiled grates directly over the side with the coals (or the lit side of a gas grill). Cook, whisking often, until the butter melts and the mixture is smooth, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Place the wings on the oiled grates directly over the side with the coals. Grill, covered, until charred, about 8 minutes, turning once halfway through cook time. Move the wings to the side without the coals (or the unlit side of a gas grill). Grill, covered, until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of the wings registers 160º, about 10 minutes. Transfer the wings to a large bowl; add the buttered hot sauce and toss to coat. Arrange on a serving platter.
Just because you’re tailgating at home, doesn’t mean you can’t do it up right.