Summer's wrapping up, and we're (begrudgingly) putting the bikinis in the back of our drawers and digging out our second most favorite attire: football jerseys. Time to dust off the body paint, the team sweatshirts, party beads, face tattoos, baby cheerleader outfits, and doggy costumes, and fire up the grill: it's tailgating season.
Click here for the Best Colleges for Tailgating (Slideshow)
While some of us prefer to watch the games in the cool shelter of a bar with a hi-def TV, there's nothing quite like a college tailgate. Because, let's be real, once the hot dogs and burgers are polished off, the keg is tapped, and you've long lost the ping-pong balls for beer pong, you may not even find it in you to drag your feet into the stadium. (We personally know we haven't made it to a few college football games or two after some heavy tailgating — go Buffs.) When you find a tailgate as legendary as you do at these 13 schools, we think you're not missing too much if you decide to camp out for awhile — after all, you've more than likely got your big-screen TV right at the truck with you.
Obviously, with experience comes know-how, and these schools have been studying the art of tailgating for as long as teams have been lacing up their cleats. In many cases, these colleges have time-honored traditions that make Game Day up there with Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year's, and the Fourth of July all rolled into one. When picking our schools, we considered the following factors: crowd size (in one city, the population practically doubles during its biggest rivalry game), food and drink, dress, and traditions. These schools' tailgates range from rowdy to downright raucous, but that doesn't mean you won't be ready for some good fun no matter where you are.
We've got the full scoop on the schools that have tailgating down to a science — and may just convince your high-school-age kids where they may want to look at schools come spring. Click here for the best tailgating schools in America, and let's get down to business.
I may be a little biased, but Ole Miss is home to the best tailgating in the country. Year after year, The Grove makes USA Today's list of the best tailgating in the country. Before each home game, fans transform the famous Grove to a tailgating hub. Tents go up the night before racked with food, drinks, TV's, chairs, and chandeliers.
Another thing that takes Ole Miss tailgating up another level is The Grove attire: dresses and heels for girls, and suits for guys. To top it all off, when the football team arrives on campus, they walk through the "Walk of Champions" sign that goes through The Grove as fans line each side of the path. It's a life-changing experience that will have you shouting "Hotty Toddy" before kickoff.
15 Best Game Day Recipes
Since I am such a hardcore football fan – no wait, let me try that again. Since I am such a hardcore football fan in terms of game day food, I figured a round-up of my favorite recipes was very much needed. So without further ado, here are 15 must-make appetizers for game day. And even if you’re not a football fan, these still need to be made!
1. Bacon Wrapped Tater Tot Bombs – The most amazing tater tots ever. It’s so good, you’ll want to double or triple the recipe. [GET THE RECIPE.]
2. Slow Cooker Spinach and Artichoke Dip – Simply throw everything in the crockpot for the easiest, most effortless spinach and artichoke dip. It really doesn’t get easier than that. [GET THE RECIPE.]
3. Skinny Taco Dip – Skip the guilt in this lightened up, super easy, 10-min taco dip. [GET THE RECIPE.]
4. Baked Cream Cheese Wontons – No one would ever believe that these crisp, creamy wontons are actually baked, not fried. And they’re so easy to make too. [GET THE RECIPE.]
5. Skinny Queso Dip – An amazingly cheesy and creamy dip that you can enjoy guilt-free. It’s so good, you’ll want to eat this with a spoon. [GET THE RECIPE.]
6. Baked Brown Sugar Chicken Wings with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce – Amazingly crisp, baked wings served with the creamiest dipping sauce of all. [GET THE RECIPE.]
7. Bacon Corn Dip – This dip is unbelievably creamy and addicting. You won’t even need chips with this one. [GET THE RECIPE.]
8. Easy Homemade Mini Corn Dogs – The easiest corn dogs you will ever make. Perfect as an after-school snack, game-day appetizer or even a quick dinner. [GET THE RECIPE.]
9. Baked Onion Rings – No need to deal with hot oil – these onion rings are easily baked to crisp-perfection right in the oven. [GET THE RECIPE.]
10. Pizza Roll Ups – These cheesy pizza roll-ups come together so quickly and easily without the fuss. Best of all, you only need 5 ingredients. [GET THE RECIPE.]
11. Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs – A lighter, healthier alternative to buffalo wings that you can easily make right in the slow cooker. [GET THE RECIPE.]
12. Beef Enchilada Dip – This meaty, cheesy enchilada dip comes together in just 15 minutes, and is the perfect crowd pleasing appetizer. [GET THE RECIPE.]
13. Restaurant Style Salsa – This chunky, restaurant-style salsa comes together in just 5 minutes with the help of a blender. How easy is that? [GET THE RECIPE.]
14. Garlic Parmesan Fries – Amazingly crisp, oven-baked fries coated with freshly grated Parmesan and a generous dose of garlic goodness. [GET THE RECIPE.]
15. Mini Deep Dish Pizzas – These 5-ingredient mini pizzas are unbelievably easy, fool-proof, and completely addicting. [GET THE RECIPE.]
9. University of South Carolina
Where: Columbia, South Carolina
What to Wear: Garnet and black
The University of South Carolina has all the team spirit and enthusiasm you’d expect from a Southern football institution, but it has a little something extra that you can’t get anywhere else: traingating.
Some lucky Gamecocks fans trade in their trucks for luxury train cars on game days, complete with full kitchens, rooftop decks, and TVs. These so-called “Cockabooses” came on the scene in 1990, and they’ve come to define the tailgating scene at this South Carolina university.
Of course, traditional tailgating is still a big draw, and you’ll find plenty of people partying the old-fashioned way with fried chicken, six-packs, and folding chairs in various spots across campus .
Tailgating: The Best Recipes For YUM This Weekend
Autumn means apple picking trips, leaves changing and football. And football, of course, means tailgating. We asked some women to share their best tailgating recipes:
Touchdown Taco dip. Pack plenty of napkins. Credit: Meagan Shamy for AGirlsGuidetoCars
Meagan Shamy is a traditional chips and dips advocate, but she goes beyond ripping open a bag and unscrewing a jar. Her gooey Touchdown Taco Dip combines all sorts of deliciousness.
Mikka Nodzo specializes in a spicy Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip – the sauce could also be used on cauliflower (where I live, Buffalo cauliflower is actually a thing – but then, probably every 3rd person is a vegetarian). Spicy blue cheese dip? Yum!
Wear gloves when handling jalapeños. Credit: Nasreen Stump for AGirlsGuidetoCars
Nasreen Stump, who lives in Texas, swears by her Baked Jalapeño Boats. These should come with a warning, since they are both addictive and very spicy. They are also gluten-free and lower in fat than traditional jalapeño boats since they are baked, not fried.
Robyn Wright takes her poppers over the top.
Robyn Wright gilds the lily with her Smoked Crab Stuffed Jalapeño Poppers Wrapped in Bacon. I will take her word for it that these smoky poppers are delicious – most people think wrapping anything in bacon automatically elevates it to ethereal.
Not every tailgating recipe has to feature meat, or these, and Susie Kellogg has a vegan quinoa salad that she humbly names “The Best Quinoa Salad in the World!” I have to say, as a dedicated vegetarian, it is pretty awesome. Most quinoa recipes load in the fat with a mess of cheese, but this one focuses on fresh vegetables and it is delicious, healthy AND a crowd pleaser. You might want to double the recipe.
My kids love everything avocado, so a tailgating party has to include guacamole. I make one of these recipes at least weekly.
The Sanctuary in Scottsdale, AZ, created these ham and jam sliders for the Superbowl, but they would fit in with any meat eating tailgate party. And the cheddar biscuits are delicious – make extra and offer those to the vegetarian (or Kosher) guests.
What are your favorite tailgating recipes? Tell us in the comments below.
2018 SEC Football Tailgating Recipe Guide
The following recipes and images are excerpted from The All-New Official SEC® Tailgating Cookbook by the Editors of Southern Living.opyright © 2018 Oxmoor House. Reprinted with permission from Time Inc. Books, a division of Meredith Corporation. New York, NY. All rights reserved.
There&aposs nothing quite like the cherished traditions, school spirit and passion of fans of the SEC football teams. On Saturdays during college football season, you can see it all in action at a pregame tailgate, whether its festivities in Tuscaloosa, tents at the Grove in Mississippi or the Parade Grounds at LSU. Below, you&aposll find a recipe for each of the 14 SEC football teams, so you make a dish perfectly suited for your team&aposs gameday.
SWEET CRIMSON ROLL TIDE ROLLS
Makes 8 rolls // Hands-on 55 minutes // Total 4 hours, 30 minutes
Even opponents will say “Roll Tide!” to these amazingly jammy breakfast rolls.
1𠑄 cup warm water (105ଏ to 115ଏ)
1 package (2 1𠑄 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1𠑂 cup (about 2 1𠑈 ounces) cake flour
1𠑃 cup granulated sugar
1𠑄 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 1𠑄 cups (about 9 5𠑈 ounces) bread flour
1𠑂 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup fresh or frozen, thawed blackberries
2 cups seedless raspberry preserves (from 2 [10-ounce] jars)
10 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1𠑄 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (about 4 ounces) powdered sugar
4 teaspoons whole milk
1𠑄 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Make the Rolls: Combine the warm water and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let stand until the yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the cake flour, granulated sugar, milk, salt, vanilla, and eggs beat on low speed with the paddle attachment until almost smooth, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the bread flour, and beat until the dough comes together, about 1 minute. Change to the dough hook attachment, and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, 13 to 15 minutes.
2. Add 6 tablespoons of the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until combined after each addition. Use 1 tablespoon of the butter to grease a large bowl place the dough in the bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place (80ଏ to 85ଏ), free from drafts, until doubled in size, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
3. Deflate the dough by folding it over on itself twice. Cover and let stand in a warm place for 30 minutes.
4. Butter a 13- x 9-inch baking pan with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, and set aside.
5. Make the Filling: Combine the blackberries, 1 cup of the preserves, and 4 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high. Bring to a boil, and stir, lightly pressing on the blackberries to release their juices. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture thickens slightly, about 4 minutes. Stir together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl, and gradually pour into the saucepan, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 1 minute. Pour the mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet. Let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
6. Stir together the granulated sugar, remaining 1 cup preserves, and 6 tablespoons of the butter in a bowl. Spread in the bottom of the prepared baking pan.
7. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 16- x 12-inch rectangle on a floured surface. Spread the cooled blackberry mixture on the surface of the dough, and roll up the dough from 1 long side. Cut the dough crosswise into 8 even pieces. Place the rolls, cut side down, in the baking pan, spacing evenly. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm place (80ଏ to 85ଏ) to rise until the rolls have doubled in size, about 1 hour.
8. Preheat the oven to 350ଏ. Bake in the preheated oven until the rolls are browned and the syrup is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes, and then invert the baking pan onto a platter or plate lined with parchment to catch the syrup.
9. Make the Icing: Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl drizzle over the hot rolls.
RAZORBACK BREAKFAST CASSEROLE
Serves 10 // Hands-on 30 minutes // Total 1 hour, 30 minutes
Here’s a delicious new spin on a breakfast casserole sure to energize you for a full day of stadium-side fanfare. The hash browns give the dish substance while the pork sausage𠅊 nod to the Arkansas razorbacks a spicy kick and smoky flavor. You can make this dish the night before and bake it right before serving. Substitute halved cherry tomatoes for the diced vine-ripe pink variety, if desired.
1 (30-ounce) package frozen shredded hash browns
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup finely chopped sweet onion (about 5 ounces)
1 cup diced green bell pepper (about 5 ounces)
3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 1𠑂 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1𠑂 teaspoons black pepper
1 pound spicy pork sausage, casings removed
4 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
10 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
3 vine-ripe pink tomatoes, diced (about 1 1𠑂 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1. Prepare the hash browns according to the package directions. Preheat the oven to 350ଏ.
2. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add the onion and bell pepper, and cook, stirring often, until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, just until softened, about 1 minute. Stir in 1𠑂 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
3. Cook the sausage in the skillet over medium-high, stirring until crumbled, lightly browned, and no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes.
4. Stir together the hash browns, onion mixture, sausage, and cheese. Pour into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
5. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and 1𠑂 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Pour over the hash brown mixture. Bake at 350ଏ until the edges are golden and the center is just set, 50 minutes to 1 hour.
6. Toss together the diced tomato, cilantro, and remaining 1𠑂 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the casserole before serving.
SMOKED WAR EAGLE WINGS WITH WHITE SAUCE
Serves 10 // Hands-on 25 minutes // Total 10 hours, 15 minutes, includes 8 hours chilling
Smoky, tangy, tender, tempting—make these your go-to smoked wings when tailgating near Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium or following the Tigers on the road. The brine gives the meat a sweet flavor and keeps it tender. The wings will change to an amber color when the smoke has thoroughly penetrated the meat. After smoking the wings, while they’re still hot, toss them in the hot sauce and Alabama-style barbecue sauce. Serve the wings with the White Sauce drizzled on top or on the side for dunking.
4 cups sweet brewed iced tea (such as Milo’s)
1𠑂 cup water
5 tablespoons kosher salt
4 pounds chicken drumettes and flats
1 cup mayonnaise
1𠑄 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1𠑂 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1𠑄 cup hot sauce (such as Frank’s RedHot Original)
1𠑄 cup Alabama-style red barbecue sauce (such as Golden Rule or Dreamland)
1. Make the Wings: Place the tea in a 4- to 6-quart food-safe container. Heat the water and salt in a small saucepan over high, stirring constantly, until the salt is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Add to the tea. Add the chicken, and cover and chill 8 hours or up to overnight.
2. Prepare the smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions for indirect heat. Bring the internal temperature to 250ଏ. Maintain the temperature. Drain the chicken, discarding the brine pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Place the chicken on the grate over indirect heat, and smoke, until cooked through, 11𠑂 to 2 hours, maintaining the temperature inside the smoker around 250ଏ. Move to direct heat, and smoke, covered, until charred, about 5 minutes. Remove from the smoker.
3. Make the White Sauce: Whisk together all the White Sauce ingredients. (The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)
4. Stir together the hot sauce and barbecue sauce in a large bowl. Add the chicken, and toss to coat. Transfer to a platter, and serve with the White Sauce.
CHICKEN AND SMOKED SAUSAGE BRUNSWICK STEW
Serves 10 // Hands-on 40 minutes // Total 1 hour
A play on classic Georgia-style Brunswick stew, which contains pulled pork instead of chicken, this recipe calls for both chicken and smoked pork sausage. Comprised of creamy beans, sweet-tangy broth, spicy sausage, and tender chicken, the result is a thick, sweet, and slightly mustardy stew that’s great anytime but just right on a chilly autumn game day.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound andouille sausage, cut into half-moons
3 pounds bone-in, skinless chicken thighs (about 8 thighs)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1𠑄 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 large potatoes)
2 cups chopped sweet onion (such as Vidalia) (from 1 onion)
1 cup chopped celery (from 3 celery stalks)
1 cup chopped carrots (from 3 large carrots)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1𠑄 cup packed light brown sugar
1𠑄 cup apple cider vinegar
1𠑄 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
1 (15-ounce) can baby lima beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
3𠑄 teaspoon black pepper
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add the sausage, and cook, stirring often, until browned, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a plate lined with paper towels. Add the remaining
1 tablespoon oil to the Dutch oven. Cook the chicken, in batches, until browned, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook until browned on the other side, about 2 minutes. Place the chicken on a plate set aside.
2. Add the butter to the Dutch oven, and swirl to melt. Add the potatoes, onion,
celery, and carrots cook over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste, and cook until darkened, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Stir in the diced tomatoes, broth, brown sugar, vinegar, Dijon, thyme, salt, and cocoa. Bring to a boil, and return the chicken to the Dutch oven reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer, and cook, uncovered, until the chicken is very tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
3. Remove the chicken, and let cool slightly. Shred into bite-size pieces. Add the shredded chicken, sausage, lima beans, corn, and pepper to the Dutch oven, and simmer, stirring often, until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Serve hot.
GRILLED GATOR KEBAB BANH MI
Serves 8 // Hands-on 45 minutes // Total 1 hour
To some passionate Florida fans, only gator meat on game day will do however, for others, this recipe works beautifully with cubed chicken breast or pork tenderloin—just reduce the marinating time to 15 minutes. If you go with gator, source the freshest gator meat possible, preferably something never frozen, from your local grocer or butcher.
1 cup water
1𠑂 cup rice vinegar
1𠑄 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 cups very thinly sliced English cucumber (from 1 large cucumber)
1 cup matchstick carrots
8 (10-inch) wooden skewers
1𠑄 cup frozen, thawed orange juice concentrate
1𠑄 cup fish sauce
1𠑄 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1𠑄 cup fresh lime juice (from 3 limes)
2 pounds alligator meat, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 (16-ounce) French bread loaves, split horizontally, each loaf cut into 4 pieces
1 cup mayonnaise
2 2𠑃 cups watercress (about 3 ounces)
2 cups cilantro sprigs (from 2 bunches)
Sriracha chili sauce
1. Stir together the water, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan bring to a boil over high. Place the cucumbers and carrots in a large heatproof bowl pour the hot vinegar mixture over the vegetables. Let stand at least 30 minutes. (The mixture can be made a day ahead of time and refrigerated.)
2. Soak the skewers in water at least 30 minutes.
3. Stir together the juice concentrate, fish sauce, brown sugar, red pepper, and lime juice in a bowl. Add the alligator meat toss to coat. Let stand 30 minutes.
4. Preheat the grill to medium-high (about 450ଏ) or heat a grill pan over medium-high.
5. Thread the meat onto the skewers. Place the kebabs on lightly greased grates, and grill, uncovered, turning often so the meat doesn’t char too much, until the meat is done, 7 to 9 minutes, basting with the leftover marinade the first 5 minutes of grilling. Remove from the grill.
6. Place the bread pieces on the grill grate, cut sides down, and grill until lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread the mayonnaise evenly on the cut sides of the bread, and top with the alligator pieces. Using a slotted spoon, top each with about 1𠑄 cup of the pickled vegetables. Sprinkle each with 1𠑃 cup of the watercress and 1𠑄 cup of the cilantro. Drizzle with the sriracha.
Serves 10 // Hands-on 55 minutes // Total 3 hours, 55 minutes
With deep, rich flavors—including smokiness and a hint of spice from the poblano chile𠅊nd just thick enough with its chunky sausage, shrimp, and okra, this dish is everything you want in a gumbo and a guaranteed success for game days at LSU’s Death Valley. You can make this gumbo up to 2 days in advance and reheat in a slow cooker at your tailgate site.
1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1𠑂-inch-thick slices
1𠑃 cup (about 2 1𠑂 ounces) salted butter
2 tablespoons bacon drippings
1𠑂 cup (about 2 1𠑈 ounces) all-purpose flour
3 large celery stalks, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 medium-size yellow onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
1 large poblano chile, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
8 to 10 cups unsalted chicken stock
1 pound fresh okra, trimmed and cut into 1𠑂-inch pieces (about 4 1𠑂 cups)
1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Louisiana hot sauce
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound peeled and deveined raw medium shrimp
1𠑂 pound fresh lump crabmeat, drained and picked over
1 1𠑂 tablespoons filé powder
Hot cooked white rice
2𠑃 cup thinly sliced scallions (about 5 to 6 scallions)
1. Place the sausage in a large Dutch oven over medium cook, stirring often, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage to drain on paper towels, reserving the drippings in the Dutch oven.
2. Add the butter and bacon drippings to the hot drippings in the Dutch oven, stirring until melted. Gradually whisk in the flour cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is a deep golden brown and thickened, being careful not to burn, 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Add the celery, onions, and poblano, and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are almost tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are very tender and the garlic is aromatic, about 3 minutes. Gradually stir in 8 cups of the stock. Stir in the sausage, okra, tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire, hot sauce, salt, and black pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high, and bring the mixture to a boil.
4. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 3 hours. If the gumbo is too thick, add the remaining 2 cups stock, 1𠑂 cup at a time, until the desired consistency. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Stir in the shrimp and crabmeat, and cook until the shrimp turn pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the filé powder, and remove from the heat. Serve the gumbo over the hot cooked rice, and garnish with the sliced scallions.
GAME-DAY HOT BROWN TURKEY SLIDERS
Serves 8 // Hands-on 45 minutes // Total 1 hour, 5 minutes
Our take on the classic Kentucky sandwich reconstructs the traditional hot brown into a Parker House roll format, with the melted cheese, white Bຜhamel sauce, and fillings inside warm, buttery rolls. They’re super easy to pick up and bite, so tailgaters won’t need a fork and knife.
3𠑄 cup (6 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1𠑄 cups whole milk, warmed
1𠑂 teaspoon kosher salt
1𠑄 teaspoon black pepper
1 (11-ounce) package frozen Parker House yeast rolls, thawed (such as Sister Schubert’s)
8 ounces sliced deli smoked turkey breast, torn into 1-inch pieces
8 ounces thinly sliced Swiss cheese
2 large plum tomatoes, sliced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Preheat the oven to 350ଏ. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high. Add the flour, and cook, stirring constantly, until a paste forms and begins to bubble, about 1 minute. Add the warm milk, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the salt and pepper. Set aside to cool slightly.
2. Remove the rolls from the aluminum pan, and place on a flat surface. Using a bread knife, cut the rolls crosswise, creating tops and bottoms. Transfer the bottoms of the rolls to the aluminum pan, cut side up, and layer with half of the turkey pieces. Using half of the cooled white sauce, dollop each roll bottom with about a spoonful. Layer evenly with half of the cheese slices. Repeat the layers once. Top each with a tomato slice, and cover with the tops of the rolls.
3. Combine the Dijon, Worcestershire, and remaining 3𠑄 cup butter in a microwavable bowl microwave on HIGH until the mixture is melted, about 30 seconds, stirring after 15 seconds. Stir in the parsley, and pour the mixture evenly over the rolls in the pan.
4. Bake at 350ଏ until the rolls are golden brown and the fillings are bubbly, about 20 minutes. Keep warm, and serve warm or at room temperature.
THE ULTIMATE BULLY BURGER WITH DILL PICKLE SAUCE
Serves 8 // Hands-on 30 minutes // Total 30 minutes, includes sauce
Named for the Mississippi State University bulldog mascot, Bully, this burger is food fit for champions. Half beef, half pork, this toothsome burger has a balance of rich flavors and gives State fans staying power through the fourth quarter. Don’t skip the Dill Pickle Sauce—it’s a must-have on this (and any) burger.
1 1𠑂 pounds ground sirloin
1 1𠑂 pounds ground pork
1𠑄 cup finely chopped sweet onion (from 1 small onion)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1𠑂 teaspoons table salt
3𠑄 teaspoon black pepper
8 Cheddar cheese slices (optional)
Dill Pickle Sauce (recipe follows)
8 hamburger buns, toasted
Toppings: green leaf lettuce, tomato slices, thinly sliced red onion, cooked bacon slices
1. Preheat the grill to medium (350ଏ to 400ଏ). Place the ground sirloin, ground pork, onion, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper in a large bowl gently combine using your hands. Shape the mixture into 8 (5-inch) patties. Slightly press the center of each patty with your thumb, making a small indentation. (This creates a flat hamburger instead of one with a domelike shape when cooked.)
2. Place the patties on the grate, and grill, covered, until the patties are no longer pink in the center, 5 to 6 minutes per side. Top each patty with 1 cheese slice, if desired. Remove from the grill.
3. Spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of the Dill Pickle Sauce on the cut sides of the buns top the bottom of each with a patty. Layer the patties with the desired toppings serve warm.
Makes about 11𠑂 cups // Hands-on 5 minutes // Total 5 minutes
Tart, creamy, and slightly spicy from the mustard, this sauce is always a winner.
1 cup mayonnaise
1𠑃 cup dill pickle relish, drained
1 1𠑂 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
1𠑄 teaspoon paprika
Stir together all the ingredients until blended cover and chill until ready to serve.
LOADED GOLDEN RAVIOLI NACHOS
Serves 8 // Hands-on 30 minutes // Total 30 minutes
A nontraditional take on the classic tailgate food, these “nachos” are made with ravioli instead of tortilla chips. The breaded, fried, and baked preparation of the ravioli is original to St. Louis, making this a perfect dish to serve at (but not limited to) Missouri games. Piled with fresh toppings such as tomato, cilantro, avocado, and a creamy glaze, the cheesy goodness that results will have you blissfully swaying to the Marching Mizzou’s “Missouri Waltz.”
6 cups canola or vegetable oil
2 large eggs
7 to 8 tablespoons whole milk
1 1𠑂 cups panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)
2 (9-ounce) packages refrigerated four-cheese ravioli
3 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3𠑄 cup)
3 ounces white Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3𠑄 cup)
1 cup chopped tomato (from 1 medium tomato)
1𠑄 cup sliced scallions (about 2 scallions)
1𠑄 cup cilantro leaves
1𠑄 cup diced red onion (from 1 small onion)
1 small ripe avocado, diced
1 small jalapeño chile, seeded and sliced
3𠑄 cup sour cream
1𠑂 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Place the oil in a Dutch oven heat to 325ଏ over medium. Whisk together the eggs and 1𠑄 cup of the milk in a medium bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in a separate medium bowl.
2. Dip the ravioli in the egg mixture dredge in the breadcrumbs, shaking to remove any excess breadcrumbs.
3. Add the ravioli, in 2 to 3 batches, to the hot oil, and fry until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, flipping, if necessary, to brown evenly. Remove from the oil, and let stand on paper towels to drain.
4. Preheat the broiler to high with the oven rack 8 inches from the heat. Place the ravioli in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, and sprinkle evenly with the cheeses.
5. Broil until the cheeses are melted and the ravioli starts to crisp around the edges, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the tomato, scallions, cilantro, red onion, avocado, and jalapeño. Stir together the sour cream and 3 tablespoons of the milk, adding the remaining 1 tablespoon milk, if necessary, to reach the desired consistency. Drizzle over the nachos sprinkle with the salt. Serve with the lime wedges.
FRIED CATFISH FINGERS WITH COMEBACK SAUCE
Serves 8 // Hands-on 20 minutes // Total 50 minutes
This recipe is great to make for a crowd. Fry the catfish in batches so tailgaters can get fish hot from the fryer, and serve a batch of cold beverages as folks mingle and wait for their crispy, crunchy food. The tangy sauce is addictively good and can also be served with chicken fingers, burgers, or fries.
3 cups whole buttermilk
2 tablespoons hot sauce
3 pounds catfish fillets, cut into strips
1 cup plain yellow cornmeal
1 cup masa harina
1 cup (about 4 1𠑄 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Sriracha chili sauce
1 1𠑂 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1𠑂 teaspoon kosher salt
1𠑂 teaspoon garlic powder
1𠑂 teaspoon onion powder
1𠑂 teaspoon dry mustard
1𠑂 teaspoon black pepper
1. Make the Catfish: Whisk together the buttermilk and hot sauce in a large bowl. Place the catfish in the buttermilk mixture, and let stand 30 minutes.
2. Pour the oil to a depth of 5 inches into a large Dutch oven over medium, and heat to 330ଏ. Stir together the cornmeal, masa, flour, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and 4 teaspoons of the salt in a shallow dish.
3. Remove the fillets in batches from the buttermilk mixture, allowing the excess to drip off. Dredge in the cornmeal mixture, shaking off the excess.
4. Fry the fish, in batches, until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a wire rack on a baking sheet lined with paper towels sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
5. Make the Comeback Sauce: Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Serve with the Catfish.
BOILED PEANUT HUMMUS WITH PORK RINDS
Serves 10 // Hands-on 15 minutes // Total 3 hours, 15 minutes
Food doesn’t get more Southern than boiled peanuts. Here, we reinvent them as a spicy and satisfying hummus served alongside another Southern classic—pork rinds. The combination of their creamy-crunchy texture is perfect. If your crowd doesn’t love pork rinds, serve the hummus with toasted pita chips or crudités.
2 quarts water
1 1𠑄 cups blanched raw peanuts
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1𠑂 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons roasted tahini (sesame paste)
1 small garlic clove
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1𠑄 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1𠑂 cup warm water, plus more for desired consistency
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives (optional)
8 ounces pork rinds or chicharrones
1. Bring the water, peanuts, salt, cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper to a boil in a large stockpot over medium-high. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the peanuts are tender, 3 to 4 hours.
2. Drain the peanuts, discarding the liquid. Let the peanuts stand until cool enough to handle, 15 to 20 minutes. Combine the peanuts, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and oil in a blender. Add the 1𠑂 cup warm water, and process until completely smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed, about 3 minutes. Slowly add up to 1𠑂 cup more warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed to reach the desired consistency. Transfer to a bowl, and, if desired, sprinkle with the chives. Serve with the pork rinds.
SLOPPY JOE DIP
Serves 12 // Hands-on 30 minutes // Total 45 minutes
Sweet, meaty, and slightly saucy, this dip truly tastes like a sloppy Joe! You can skip Step 3, if desired, and instead place the dip in a slow cooker on the WARM setting at your tailgate site.
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 1𠑂 pounds lean ground beef
1𠑂 cup chopped yellow onion (from 1 onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1𠑄 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1𠑂 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (8-ounce) package pre-shredded Cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)
Corn chips (such as Fritos Scoops)
1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the beef, and cook, stirring often, until the meat crumbles and is no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, ketchup, Dijon, brown sugar, tomato paste, Worcestershire, vinegar, paprika, red pepper, and salt.
2. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of the shredded cheese.
3. Preheat the oven to 400ଏ. Transfer the mixture to a 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup cheese, and bake at 400ଏ until the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Serve with the corn chips.
Serves 10 // Hands-on 20 minutes // Total 35 minutes
Chock-full of black beans, peas, and vegetables with some heat from smoky paprika and jalapeño chile, this dip is top notch𠅎ven “Good Bull” for an Aggie fan. Kick up the heat by leaving in the jalapeño seeds, or take them out for a milder dip. This also makes a nice relish for grilled meats or topping for baked potatoes.
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
1 1𠑂 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1𠑂 teaspoon smoked paprika
1𠑂 teaspoon honey
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper (from 1 bell pepper)
1 cup chopped plum tomato (from 2 tomatoes)
1𠑂 cup finely chopped red onion (from 1 small onion)
1𠑂 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeño chile or serrano chile
Whisk together the oil, lime juice, vinegar, cumin, salt, paprika, and honey in a large bowl. Add the beans, peas, corn, bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and jalapeño stir to coat well. Let stand 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with the tortilla chips.
MEMPHIS-STYLE BBQ CHILI
Serves 8 // Hands-on 30 minutes // Total 2 hours, 30 minutes
Give classic cool-weather chili a makeover with a touch of sweetness from barbecue sauce and baked beans. Once the heat from the paprika, chili powder, and cayenne hits, you’ll be thankful for the sour cream topping.
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 (2-pound) boneless pork shoulder roast (Boston butt), cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups chopped yellow onion (from 1 large onion)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon celery salt
1𠑂 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups barbecue sauce (such as Stubb’s Original)
2 (15-ounce) cans navy beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can baked beans
Toppings: sliced cabbage, sour cream, shredded Cheddar cheese
Corn chips (such as Fritos)
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add half of the cubed pork roast, and cook until browned on all sides, 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Drain the oil from the Dutch oven. Repeat with the remaining oil and pork.
2. Add the onion to the Dutch oven. Cook until slightly caramelized, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the browned pork, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, mustard, celery salt, and cayenne, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the stock, barbecue sauce, navy beans, and baked beans, and bring to a boil.
3. Reduce the heat to medium-low cover and simmer until the meat is very tender, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Top as desired, and serve with the corn chips.
From Johnny Majors to Butch Jones: Tailgating recipes of Vols coaches' wives
Tips on how to have the best tailgating experience on the campus of the University of Tennessee.
Butch Jones with his wife, Barb, and sons Alex, Andrew and Adam (Photo: University of Tennessee)
The tailgating display at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta states that "the pillars of tailgating are the 5 F's — family, friends, food, fun and football."
One look at the campus of the University of Tennessee on a football Saturday shows that Volunteer fans are a perfect example of that claim.
Fans blanket the campus in a sea of orange, from clothing, tents and tables, to food and recreation. And let's not forget the Vol Navy, whose festively embellished boats become a walkway for floating fans as they dock at Volunteer Landing and tie their boats side by side.
While not often in the center of the tailgating experience, the coaches' wives have done their share of tailgating either on a college campus or at a private home party. Like the fans, victory is their goal.
Since Johnny Majors became coach of the Vols in 1977, the Knoxville News Sentinel has maintained a library of recipes submitted by the wives, including one from Barb Jones, wife of Coach Butch Jones.
Food, the power to please and pacify
Butch Jones (2013-current) and Barb Jones are the parents of three sons, Alex, Adam and Andrew. Jones has described his wife as his best friend, and a woman with an easygoing spirit. That's something every coach needs at the end of the day.
The recipe that Barb Jones has used at tailgating events is the Big Orange Spaghetti Casserole. It's a recipe given to her from a friend, and she has tweaked it to reflect her Volunteer pride.
"This casserole is delicious and was actually given to me by another coach’s wife years ago. I’ve added the Velveeta to it to give it the needed ‘Big Orange’ touch. Each home game weekend, we get together and tailgate with the families of the coaches. It’s a blast! Everybody wears their orange, we eat some great food, we sing 'Rocky Top' and we show our support at the Vol Walk before cheering on the Vols,” she said.
Big Orange Spaghetti Casserole
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in thin strips, or ½ pound of breakfast pork sausage, cooked, drained
10-ounce can of Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 can (10.76 ounce) of cream of chicken soup
1 tablespoon chopped canned jalapenos
1 pound Velveeta, cut into ½-inch cubes
8 ounces spaghetti, cooked and drained
½ cup of crushed tortilla chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add chicken or sausage, garlic and onion powder. Cook over medium-high heat until chicken is no longer pink.
Stir in soup, jalapeños, cubed Velveeta and diced tomatoes with green chilies. Reduce heat to low, and cook until the cheese melts, stirring constantly. Stir in cooked spaghetti. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Pour into a lightly greased 2-quart casserole dish. Top with crushed tortilla chips. Bake for 30 minutes. Yields 4-6 servings.
Allison Dooley with children, from left, Peyton, Julianna and John Taylor at their home on Sunday, Aug. 22, 2010 (Photo: Saul Young / Knoxville News Sentinel)
Allison Dooley, wife of Coach Derek Dooley (2010-12), was busy with her own career and the caring of three children during her time in Tennessee. Convenience and ease of preparation were as important to her as finding healthy foods that her children could enjoy. She shared her salsa recipe, which she said represented her home state of Texas.
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes
1-3 fresh jalapenos (see note)
1 large handful of fresh cilantro
Boil the jalapenos until softened, about four minutes. Remove stem and de-seed. Put all ingredients in food processor and blend. Serve at room temperature.
Note: Dooley uses 2 jalapenos and 1 garlic clove, but make to your own taste/spice level.
Layla Kiffin poses with her children, Pressley, Knox and Landry, and her favorite tailgating foods, Death by Chocolate, left, and Tennessee caviar, right, at the Cove in Concord Park on Aug. 12, 2009. Kiffin has since divorced Coach Lane Kiffin. (Photo: ADAM BRIMER, Knoxville News Sentinel)
When Lane (2009) and Layla Kiffin moved to Knoxville, they had three children ages 4 and under. Layla said she was happy to be in the same city as her brother David Reaves, who was on UT's coaching staff, and very much enjoyed the close community formed by the coaches' wives.
She shared three tailgating recipes, including this melt-in-your-mouth pizza bread.
Melt-in-your-mouth pizza bread
12 sheets phyllo dough (in grocer's freezer section)
8 small tomatoes, sliced thin
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
Defrost phyllo dough according to directions on box. Grease large cookie sheet with cooking spray. Place one sheet of dough onto cookie sheet and brush lightly with butter. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Repeat the layering of phyllo, Parmesan cheese and butter four times. Cover fourth layer with mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle onions evenly over cheese and top with sliced tomatoes. Season with oregano, garlic salt, salt and pepper. Top with Parmesan cheese. Bake in 350-degree oven for 25 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.
Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer, center, leaves the field with his wife, Vicky, left, and daughter Allison after a game against Wyoming on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008, in Knoxville. Wyoming won 13-7. (Photo: Wade Payne / AP)
Vicky Fulmer was often seen on the sideline near the end of each football game coached by her husband, Phil Fulmer (1992-2008). Cooking for visiting recruits and friends of their three daughters who might drop by on a whim meant that she had plenty of mouths to feed. This pumpkin-nut bread was one of her go-to dishes that she shared with former News Sentinel food editor Louise Durman.
Vicky Fulmer's pumpkin-nut bread
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin (fresh or canned)
2 tablespoons soft butter
Sift together flour, soda, salt and spices. Combine pumpkin, sugar, buttermilk and egg in a mixing bowl. Add dry ingredients and butter and blend. Stir in nuts. Spread in well-greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Mary Lynn Majors, wife of Coach Johnny Majors, was a behind-the-scenes supporter of her husband during his 15 years of coaching at UT. (Photo: Georgiana Vines / Special to the News Sentinel)
It's unclear if Mary Lynn Majors ever prepared this dish for a tailgating event, but while in New Orleans for the 1986 Sugar Bowl, she and Coach Johnny Majors (1977-92) had breakfast at The Commander's Palace. She enjoyed the bread pudding so much that she acquired the recipe from "The Commander's Palace New Orleans Cookbook," written by restaurant owner Ella Brennan. The Majorses prepared the dish in 1986 when they competed in a Gourmet & Gala cooking contest. It took second place.
Commander's Palace bread pudding with whiskey sauce
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup raisins (soaked in water to plump)
12 slices, each 1-inch thick, of French bread (fresh or stale)
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl blend together the sugar and butter. Add everything but bread mix. Pour into 9-inch square pan, 1 1/2-inches deep. Arrange bread slices flat in egg mixture and let stand 5 minutes to soak up mixture. Turn bread over and let stand 10 more minutes. Push bread down so that most of it is covered by the egg mixture. Do not break the bread.
Set pan in larger pan filled with water that reaches to 1/2-inch top of pan. Cover with foil. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, uncovering for last 10 minutes to brown. When done custard should be soft but not firm.
Serve immediately, topped with whiskey sauce, if desired. Yields 8 to 12 servings, depending on size offered. (It is very rich, so small servings usually suffice.)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Combine sugar, cream, cinnamon and butter. Bring to boil. Thoroughly mix cornstarch with water and whip into boiling sauce. Cook until sauce is clear. Remove from heat and stir in bourbon. Pour over individual servings of bread pudding. If desired, sprinkle nutmeg over each serving. Yields 1 1/2 to 2 cups.
Health and Sanitation
Without a doubt, improved awareness of health and sanitation will be something we all have experienced over the past year and that will continue in all aspects of our life. Even while the risk of catching COVID-19 continues to decrease in most parts of the country, basic hygiene practices like hand washing and washing dishes will continue to be more important.
For most of us, there is no need to carry hand sanitizer with us everywhere but I would expect various products designed for this purpose to start appearing at tailgate parties.
14. Utah @ USC 7:30 PM ET
So, you win a game and the AP kicks you out. A win by USC over Minnesota (19-17) moved USC out of their 25th position in the poll. I’m sure I could have some good conversation over a beer, or maybe some Chardonnay, outside the Coliseum with some Trojan fans this weekend, but let’s concentrate on the Pac-12 for now.
This is the first conference game for Utah and USC and it’s not that far for the Utes to come and enjoy the festivities
After all, it is Southern California and the weather this weekend is supposed to be spectacular.
Also, the fans are laid back, except after kickoff. And, outside of the legendary Coliseum, you’ll find just about everything under the sun.
USC fans have even organized and created the Trojan Tailgate Club, usually found at the southeast end of the Coliseum in the Sports Arena parking lot (lot 6). They provide a setup complete with DirectTV, Sirius Satellite radio, barbecue grill, poker table, food and drink. It's welcome to any USC fan and visitors are welcome to stop by too.
When it comes to tipping back the glass, the USC fans do have Bud Light, but more often you’ll see bottles of wine, premium or imported beers, and when it's time to do shots, it's not the bar brand tequila, it's Patron.
And, because of such a diverse ethnic population, the food is a smorgasbord of every flavor under the sun. You’ll see lamb on spits, tacos, enchiladas and many exotic foods, along with the usual chicken, ribs, burgers and dogs.
We'll have to see if they get back in the polls should Utah fall to the Trojans
Tailgating At Ole Miss
It’s game day at the University of Mississippi, and I’m up early on this crisp fall morning to join the migration from downtown Oxford to campus, less than a mile away. Preschool-age girls skip along in miniature cheerleader dresses little boys wear T-shirts emblazoned with images of Colonel Rebel, the traditional Ole Miss mascot—an elderly gent with a white goatee, planter’s hat, and cane—and folks of all ages march ahead in red and blue, the school colors, some with “Go Rebels” or “Hotty Toddy”, the school cheer, painted on their faces. We’re headed to the Grove, the center quad on the Ole Miss campus and the site of the most famous tailgating party in America.
People have probably been picnicking before college football games for as long as there’s been college football. Technically speaking, to tailgate is to serve a picnic on the folded-down tailgate of a station wagon or pickup truck—which is how it used to be done at Ole Miss. Snooky Williams, who has been coming to the Grove since 1937, remembers when the oak- and magnolia-studded lawn was filled before every game with cars and the food served was very simple. Back then, he says, his parents took “nothin’ but a case of apples, a case of oranges, and a hoop o’ cheese”. Over the years, Southern picnic staples like fried chicken and potato salad were added, and with the invention of portable barbecues and devices for keeping food hot or cold, the spreads at the Grove evolved into elaborate potluck productions like those you’d find at church suppers. But the most significant change came in 1992, when, because of heavy rains before one game, cars were banned from the muddy grounds. Veteran tailgaters bemoaned the ruling, certain that it would spoil the day. But without cars, the individual groups were closer together, creating a giant community celebration. People loved it, and cars have been absent ever since.
These days, groups pay someone, often a college student, to stake out their usual spot the evening before every home game, and they hire local companies to erect tents and set up tables and chairs. On game day, the ten-acre Grove becomes a sea of white tents, with as many as 60,000 revelers assembled here.
I’ve come “to Grove”, as some locals say, with Judy and Pat Edwards, both Ole Miss alumni, on the spot where they have picnicked for roughly 30 years. They drive the hour south from their home in Memphis to meet up with a group of about 60 friends, mostly Ole Miss alumni and parents of current students, for an immense potluck meal. Judy is the sister of my friend Sara Foster, who also graduated from Ole Miss. When I was driving across the country last fall, Sara, who owns two Foster’s Market stores (in Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina), persuaded me to stop in Oxford to witness the spectacle at the Grove with Judy and her party. “Trust me,” she said, chuckling. “You just have to see it to believe it.” She was right.
“Why are you so late?” Judy asks as I stagger, amazed, into her tent. It’s not yet nine in the morning. Kickoff time is 2:30. I thought I’d arrived early enough to see the scene develop, but the Grove is already a mass of moving red-and-blue-clad bodies. Just as Sara described it, well-groomed young men are dressed in sport coats and ties, and girls with fully done hair and makeup tramp through the grass in high heels and cocktail dresses. The scene is one of happy madness, like the genteel South’s version of a Dead show parking lot. But this is no frat party. It’s more of a family affair, where the different generations of students and alumni have a chance to socialize. You don’t go to Ole Miss because it’s the best school you go because it means joining a big, fun-loving, hearty-eating family. And game days are the family holidays.
That said, not everybody in or around Oxford chooses to Grove. Some locals prefer to have their pregame parties at home. And one entire group is notably absent: African-Americans. While in recent years a few black fraternities and campus organizations have been represented by tents at the Grove, in general, Ole Miss football fans—both in the Grove and in the stands—are white. “White folks wouldn’t mind Groving with black folks,” says Mary Beth Lasseter, an Ole Miss alumna and associate director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, who was up all night preparing her grandmother’s pimento cheese sandwiches for today’s event. “But it’s hard to be the first black family to go into the Grove and set up your tent. So far, few black folks are doing it, and no white folks are going out to invite black folks in.” Nearly 15 percent of Ole Miss’s student body is African-American, but most of those students are of the first generation to attend the school. Lasseter hopes that as blacks become part of the history of the university, Groving will become a more integrated event.
Snooky Williams’s group is already picnicking on gumbo and etouffee flown up from Baton Rouge. On the periphery of the Grove, some folks have fired up barrel barbecues. Many have brought in Mississippi Delta tamales. And City Grocery, arguably the best restaurant in Oxford, will be feeding shrimp and grits to a party of 300 people today in the Grove.
But these are exceptions. What’s under the majority of these tents is a different kind of Southern food but no less a part of Southern culture: the stuff of Junior Leagues, a cuisine of convenience—a can of one thing mixed with a box of another, cooking that fits the lifestyles of a generation of women who have gone to work but who nevertheless wouldn’t think of arriving at any gathering empty-handed. And it is food that is designed to taste—even to a person like me who can be rather priggish on matters of, say, eating peaches out of season—really, really good.
“Breakfast casserole?” asks Judy. “French toast casserole? Sausage biscuit? You have to eat somethin’.” Becky Tollison, Carol MacIntosh, and Myra Hughes, three of the women in charge of this week’s setup, are busy dressing the tables with red, white, and blue tablecloths, big flower arrangements, and silvery candelabra and finding room for dish after dish as each newcomer arrives. Chandeliers have been hung from the tent ceiling beneath them, chafing dishes warm everything from hot dips to scallop kebabs. Roasts—turkey, beef, and pork—sit ready for carving, and platters of deviled eggs are everywhere. One long table is dedicated to what seems to be the South’s antidote to all of life’s troubles: dessert. Baskets of brownies and lemon bars and tins of cookies are wedged in among at least half a dozen pies, cupcakes, cheesecakes, and good old American layer cakes.
When faced with this kind of buffet—which includes not just the dishes here but also those of the friends we will be visiting, since “tent-hopping” is essential to the Grove experience—one must think strategically. I decide to start my breakfast by carving into a glorious-looking, slightly lopsided three-layer yellow cake coated with a candylike caramel frosting, the specialty of Sara and Judy’s aunt Virginia, who sits proudly, in black and with long manicured nails, in a folding chair nearby.
I feel I have no choice but to follow the cake with a sausage biscuit (when in Oxford…). And then it’s a serving of Tollison’s puddinglike black-eyed pea corn bread—spicy sausage, canned creamed corn, canned green chiles, pickled jalapeños, and canned black-eyed peas, bound together with white cornmeal and cheddar cheese: evidence that more is sometimes more. An hour later, I am lucky enough to get a slice of pork loin with a sweet and spicy sauce of pineapple preserves, apple jelly, and horseradish before it disappears. Everywhere I turn, there is something gooey and irresistible—crab dip, onion souffle dip, chutney dip, and chili dip, every one of which, I learn, is based on cream cheese. Digging into these luscious concoctions, I begin to wonder whether the “fresh, seasonal, keep it simple” credo I’ve come to live by can really satisfy a person’s lustier food cravings.
Being a girl of the California persuasion, I hadn’t considered that all these people—in particular what look to me to be very non-sports-oriented women —could possibly care about actual football, so I had assumed that the game was just an excuse for the party. But when the Rebel team cuts through the crowd on its way to the stadium to play Louisiana State University, I learn differently. “The walk” is the official signal to the fans that kickoff is two hours away. The women in Judy’s group—and all over the Grove—immediately begin covering the food, locking up the liquor, and moving with the crowd toward the stadium. Meanwhile, I wander around the relatively deserted grounds of what was an undulating party scene only moments before. I stop by one tent to watch the start of the game on a satellite TV with a few stragglers. As the Rebel fans shout the kickoff chant—”Arrre yoouu reeaadyy?”—cheers from the stadium drown out the TV. And the game begins.
As it turns out, Ole Miss, the underdog, loses after a surprisingly close game. A candlelit party follows, albeit one with a mood more subdued than if the Rebels had won. “We paid too much attention to the food,” Judy says, as she prepares what’s left of the buffet for the group to snack on, “and not enough attention to our boys.”