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Tailgating help

Football season will be upon us soon and Mr. Janet and I attend all of the home games of the college where my stepdaughter attends. I need some ideas for savory items that I can bring that are reasonably easy to prepare and do not have to be refrigerated or heated. These don't have the be the "main event" of the tailgate but something that would be in addition to what the host brings as the star of the show. Sweet things are pretty easy...good cookies, brownies, etc. but the savory items are challenging.

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  1. How fancy are your tailgating parties? What kinds of foods would appeal? My tastes lean toward Asian/Mediterranean/spicy foods so this may not suit your crowd.

    For salads, I'd bring grain or pasta (non-mayo type) salads - couscous or bulghur with olives, feta, lemon and mint. This can be made fancier with pieces of cooked or smoked seafood, chicken, turkey etc.

    Orzo salad is similar - I add lots of fresh and cooked veggies, depending on what's in season. Again, you can add in extra proteins to make it more filling. I make a dijon dressing for this so it doesn't have to be chilled.

    Other pasta ideas - rice noodles with a Thai/Vietnamese dressing (rice vinegar, fish sauce, chopped peanuts, mint and/or basil, chile, sesame oil).

    For mains, you could cook a side of salmon and take a sauce. My favorite is dill mustard which has always gone down well with my friends. Depending on how long it is before you eat, the salmon should be OK at room temps for a couple of hours.

    How about fried chicken? There were several threads on this recently with recipes and recommendations.

    Grilled, marinated veggies - marinate slices of eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, cherry tomatoes in a vinaigrette. Grill or roast. Cool, add extra marinade. Nice as a side or main, can be served on ciabatta to make a pretty good sandwich.

    1. This crowd has some people who love great food and others who are happy with the most mediocre of foods. We already have someone who brings cold fried chicken, so that is out.

      The problem is we leave Friday afternoon and the tailgate will be Saturday morning and I won't have access to a refrigerator. Probably something like couscous or pasta salad would keep okay in a cooler. The salmon, not so much.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Janet from Richmond

        Freeze water in some Tupperware. Put your food in the bottom of a cooler. Place the Tupperware on top. Cover with a towel and close the lid. Do not open it for any reason until needed. It should be fine.


      2. I almost always grill quail at my Patriots tailgates. I use the semi-deboned variety (only the leg bones are left), so they lay nice and flat and cook very quickly. They're also great because you can season them in a wide variety of ways. The easiest is just salt, pepper, and a dusting of good paprika for nice color. I've also made an easy glaze of hot chili paste and raspberry preserves; sweet and sassy! Another favorite is Jamaican jerk quail, and I've even done a Tandori version. If you don't have easy access to semi-deboned quail, here's a good online source (ignore the photo; it shows whole quail, but you get the deboned kind):


        1. Oh, forgot to add that quail is quite delicious at room temperature. So although I grill them right in the Gillette Stadium parking lot, you could prepare them at home and bring them to the game. I wouldn't serve them ice cold though, just room temp.

          1. Fritatta. Store it in a cooler and serve at room temp.

            1. I would hard boil some eggs and then take the ingredients to make deviled eggs with you.

              You can put it all in a cooler and make them on site. It is easy to make enough for a large crowd and most everyone loves deviled eggs.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Tugboat

                I can't stand deviled eggs. I won't kiss Mr. Janet after he eats them <g>. But being in Virginia they always make an appearance::::::::shudder:::::::::::::

              2. I just made the below (photo on bottom of thread) and was thinking it would be perfect for picnics, etc. because there is no mayo in it, and tastes better at room temp:

                2 Replies
                1. re: Funwithfood

                  Sounds tasty. And it'd be especially great to eat if you have fans of the opposing team sitting directly behind you. :)

                  1. This get tougher if you have no refrigeration for almost a full day, though in Fall room temps are a little lower so that helps.

                    How about spreads and dips (many of these can be purchased instead of being made) - hummus, tapenade, baba ghanoush, muhammara, tarator. Or smoked fish pates? I think these are safe not being chilled for a day. Any of these with a good piece of bread and perhaps some cheese would keep me happy.

                    Salads with dressing get a bit squishy so you could make skewers with cheese cubes, pickles (cornichons, pearl onions), cherry tomatoes, olives, perhaps grapes. Easy to assemble and eat, pretty too.

                    Funwithfood mentioned bean salad. You could vary this by adding tuna, preferably Italian for a Tuscan salad.

                    In addition to frittata, quiche might work (don't know how long you can keep it without refrigeration).

                    1. I've a great recipe to make meatballs and make a sweet dipping sauce with preserves and whiskey. Meaty spicy chili is a star at cold weather games. On a warm day I'll make my watermelon cooler or strawberry sipper for refreshing drinks... that can be "added" to at the tailgate.

                      The Orzo pasta mentioned above is a great idea, imo.

                      1. We take scotch eggs probably once a season to C'ville. A cooler is fine, as they should be cool/room temperature anyway. They work for b'fast or lunch.

                        1. This smoked salmon appetizer is delicious. Smoked salmon is available in cryovac packaging that will hold extremely well in a cooler (it's quite water tight) and you can arrange your serving platter just before serving. If desired, mix the whole thing in advance and serve as a spread. A tupperware or similar container will keep the spread water-tight in a cooler.

                          * Exported from MasterCook *

                          Classic Smoked Salmon Appetizer

                          Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
                          -------- ------------ --------------------------------
                          8 ounces smoked salmon
                          8 ounces Herbed Cream Cheese*
                          12 slices rye bread party slice -- or six mini bagels, split
                          1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
                          3 tablespoons capers
                          lemon slices
                          fresh dill sprigs

                          To make Herbed Cream Cheese, Beat together all ingredients until smooth.

                          Arrange smoked salmon, small bowl of Herbed Cream Cheese and bread on medium-sized serving platter. Garnish with red onion, capers, lemon slices and dill.

                          1. I've had good luck with Med type platters also. Kind of a spiced up crudite. Hummus, babaganosh (sp), kalamata olives, pita bread, veggies, roasted peppers, etc.

                            I also like rice dishes. I'm an LSU tail-gator (Gator, get it? Wow, I need to get out more.) We always have beans and rice, jambalaya, gumbo, etc. We use the cooler to keep them warm instead of cool.

                            Baked pasta are good at room temp too. Ziti, lasagna, etc. Of course, these are much more cool/cold weather foods than heat of summer foods, so maybe save that for a month or so.

                            Have fun!

                            1. Last year I did grilled vegies on skewers, packed them up the night before and they were fine. I used a mix of squash, tomatoes, peppers, onions. I also did mac and cheese squares--made my usual mac and cheese, baked it in a pan that I'd coated with butter and lots of bread crumbs, then topped with bread crumbs, when it was baked, I cut it into brownie size pieces. Everyone went nuts even though I served them at room temp...

                              1. bbq pineapple with brown sugar
                                grilled bannanas
                                bbq thick slabs of bologna and make sandwhiches with bbq sauce and slaw.

                                1. For a little nosh take a jar of pepper jelly and crackers stop and buy cream cheese and assemble.I mean you can not get simplier than pouring pepper jelly on cream cheese and adding a knife to pat in on crackers.