Matt Moore, Southern Eats & Drinks Expert
Anyone who’s played a sport, especially football, has been reminded over and over again that two hands are better than one. Whether it’s catching that Hail Mary pass, holding on to the ball while running the gauntlet, or grappling the opposing running back to the ground, two is better than one.
While we might not all be star athletes, we can all implement the two-hand approach and succeed at any sporting event tailgate. The best tailgates I’ve been to are full of folks using the two-hand approach: one hand holding a Dixie Vodka cocktail and a tasty handheld treat in the other.
Down South in Baton Rouge, the LSU tigers must think we all need to have four hands — two for Dixie Vodka drinks and two to hold a big bowl of gumbo, jambalaya, or red beans and rice. While I appreciate their dexterity and generosity, I’m always one to fumble when things get too hands-y — and it’s never a good idea to waste perfectly good food or drink.
So instead, I like to go with handheld eats that KISS (keep it simple stupid), while still remaining delicious. Certainly, the easiest go-to are sandwiches, chicken fingers, hot dogs, and burgers — but truth be told, we can do better.
My approach? I go with a kebab. Now, before you start to think I’m getting all fancy on you, stop. The kebab is the perfect tailgate food. First off, everything can be prepared in advance — marinated meats, veggies, seafood, or whatever else suits your fancy can be packed in bags and taken directly in a cooler to the tailgate. Heck, you can even skewer them at home or on-site (a true pro move, just take some wet wipes). Since the skewered cuts are broken down, they cook up quickly on the grill so you can serve a large group quickly, or cook to order for that one vegetarian friend in the group.
Better yet, there’s no clean up other than the skewer, which also doubles as a toothpick in case you’re lucky enough to score a pre-game good luck kiss.
Below is a marinade and method I like to use for bite-tender, juicy beef kebabs. Truth be told, this marinade can work just the same for nearly every protein, including lamb, chicken, pork, salmon, or whatever veggies or tofu (is that a real thing?) you can cut and skewer. Just be sure to keep calm and grill on — and don’t forget to fix a Dixie Firefly (recipe below) to sip on the side to keep things going smoothly!
Eat, drink, and have fun — it’s game day, y’all!
- 1 lb. sirloin steak, trimmed and cut into 1×1 inch cubes
- 1/2 Vidalia onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 tbsp. fresh cracked pepper
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 2 tbsp. minced garlic
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- Wooden skewers, soaked in water
- Combine all ingredients, except skewers, into a zip-top bag, toss until combined, and marinate 1 hour, up to 24 hours.
- Remove from bag and shake off excess marinade. Skewer meats, onions, and peppers as desired, leaving 1/8 inch between the pieces—careful not to over skewer.
- Prepare a direct fire. If using gas, light on high; if charcoal, pile coals to create a direct heat zone of 450 – 500 degrees.
- Add skewers and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 mins per side, 4 sides, until internal temp reaches 135 degrees F for medium rare. Remove skewers and serve.
- 1.5 oz. Dixie Black Pepper Vodka
- 1 oz. ruby red grapefruit juice
- 0.75 oz. lime juice
- 0.5 oz. simple syrup1 sliced jalapeño (reserve a couple slices for garnish)
Add ingredients to shaker, shake well, and strain over ice. Garnish with fresh jalapeño slice.