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It’s the end of July and hotter than hell in most of the US. That only means one thing to the avid sport fan; college football is just around the corner! So it’s time to go through our preseason tailgating list. Just like your favorite college team has to prepare each Saturday, it’s crucial for us tailgaters to prepare as well! To get you prepared in time, here’s Part 1 in our three-part series on tailgating. Now, let’s get prepared!

  1. It’s time to pull out your tailgating list and begin going through all of your tailgating cooking  equipment to make sure everything is working and in proper form. And if you don’t have one you can always get started by using our tailgating checklist in order to create your own personalized list.
  2. Now we need to start planning your menu for the first game. You’ll want to keep in mind what time kick-off is while going over your tailgating menu. You’ll probably want to arrive 4-5 hours prior to the game to give you ample time to get everything prepared in time. Being a chef by trade, I can assure you that proper time management will be your friend come game day. With that in mind are you going to prepare breakfast, lunch, or dinner menu items? What appetizers are going to be involved? What types of beverages?

As I start building a tailgating menu, I build around the center of the plate which is the main course. When considering what to cook keep in mind these following three things.

  1. The capacity of your cooking equipment
  2. How many guests you’ll be cooking for
  3. Preparation and cooking times

Preparation or Prep Work

Having good preparation skills before the big day will help take a lot of pressure off of you come game day. In this section, I’ll outline some basic ideas for a cooking schedule.

Three Days Before Game Day.

  1. Take care of your grocery shopping
  2. Unpack all of the meat and poultry you’re going to need; trim, rinse and store in your refrigerator using Ziploc bags until ready to use.
  3. Wash and clean any vegetables you’re going to use and refrigerate.
  4. Do not wash clean or cut any fruit at this time, store as directed.

Two Days Before Game Day

  1. Begin cooking any hot and cold dishes that will save time on game day. This could include hot food such as stews, chilies, casseroles, soups, BBQ sauces, spaghetti,      lasagna, etc. Cold dishes could include potato salad, macaroni salad, etc and any vegetables that need to be blanched and shocked for trays or appetizers.

One Day Before Game Day

  1. Start prepping any fresh vegetables you need for veggie trays and salads.
  2. Prepare any marinades needed for main course or hot appetizers then fill Ziploc bags with the marinades and the appropriate meat and poultry for next day cooking.
  3. Double check your entire menu and prep list to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything that you needed to do for game day.

Special Notes

  1. Blanch and shocking vegetable is the process of partially cooking them for color and desired doneness then drained and put in an ice bath to stop the cooking.
  2. For ease of packing and cleanup, use Ziploc bags and disposable containers when possible.

Now that we’re heading into the 2013-14 tailgating season be sure to check back for Parts 2-3 in this series as well as more tailgating ideas here at BBQ Like A Pro! You’ll find new recipes to try out for game day along with product reviews and other tailgating surprises this season.

Happy Queing,

The Que Dude


Why We Review BBQ Products

Reviewing BBQ products is my favorite thing to do, and here’s why. There is a plethora of products available to the grilling community; however the majority is mass marketed by the major manufacturers and food processors. Yet, some of the best products in the industry are produced by the small struggling manufacturer, sauce producers, and rub producers. These small companies are at a large disadvantage with limited cash flow, production facilities and marketing tools.

All of my favorite BBQ tools, sauces, and rubs simply aren’t available at your local store; you have to find them on the internet. The challenge with that is which item or items to purchase without the benefit of knowing a thing about the product other than the description on the site. Let’s face it everybody is proud of what they produce, and I’m sure a lot of it’s good.

We review food items using the following guidelines listed below:

Ingredients: We’ll list all of the ingredients as listed on the label, so you know what it’s made up of so that you can make an informed decision on whether these ingredients meet your dietary needs.

Aroma: Aromatics are very important in BBQ and they aren’t always the same before and after the cook. During the cooking stage the ingredients have a chemical change that more often than not is different than from the raw state. Thus, making it very important to rate.

Appearance and Texture: We’ll describe how the product looks; color, thickness, graininess or smooth. We’ll be your eyes, nose and taste buds.

Taste Straight Up: We’re going to tell you in a no non-sense way how the product performs.

Flavor Profile: Is it spicy, mild, sweet, well balanced; you’ll have a pretty good idea if this particular product is something you and our family will enjoy.

Heat: I’m personally into heat if it’s correctly balanced with other flavors, we’ll let you know where we think the level of heat falls.

In Summary: By the end of the testing process, we will summarize our findings and give you our final recommendations on the product.

All in all, BBQ like a Pro reviews BBQ products to keep the general public informed of the advantages and disadvantages on as many BBQ products as we can. When we test a product it’s not paid advertisement by the company. In fact, in most cases it’s a cost to us to review a product.

And if you’re wondering, we also review BBQ equipment and accessories for our viewers. However, they fall under different guidelines and we take them through a rigid testing process. Because when it comes to trying to make an informed decision on what to BBQ items to purchase turn to BBQ Like a Pro, we’re your BBQ authority.

We enjoy supporting the small entrepreneur and enjoy introducing their products to the general public. We equally enjoy reviewing these products so the consumer can make an informed decision.


Happy Queing,

The Que Dude


Weber 27" Kettle Grill

I recently received my new Weber 27” Kettle Grill. Before I cook on it, the first thing I need to do is to season it. What do I mean by seasoning a new grill? When you receive your new grill from the manufacturer or dealer, there are always impurities due to the building process that are unwanted and potentially harmful.

Preparing briquettes in a chimney to start seasoning process.

Preparing briquettes in a chimney to start seasoning

To “season” the grill and remove the impurities, residue and residual metals by building a fire as if you were going to barbecue and bring the temperature up to about 350˚ and hold at that temperature for 3-4 hours. When the fire is completely out, remove all of the ash, and wipe down your cooking grate and lid with a clean throw away towel, and you’re ready to cook.

Before you plan to have guests over for a Backyard Barbecue or hosting a Tailgate Party. Use it a few times first. Whatever sticks will give you a nice, even coating of carbon. This is the secret to a non-stick Grill as well as the starting point for serving up tender, juicy meats that fall right off the bone. Season your grill correctly and soon you will be Barbecuing Like A Pro.

Pork Steaks

Pork Steaks

In breaking in my new grill, I decided to go with pork steaks. Pork seems to be a little more forgiving, and with a marinade and a lite rub not only does it make for a tasty main course. I took a picture after the cooking process to show you the meat particles left on the grate, however, it was a little late. Don’t freak out if your meat tears that’s normal for the first few cooks. As you use the grill more frequently, your grill will become more seasoned and unless you do something wrong sticking meat shouldn’t be a problem.

In summary, when purchasing a new grill you tend to be so excited that you assemble the grill and cook. That’s a big mistake, take the time to season your grill properly & correctly and cook a few times before you invite guests over and you’ll have a much better experience with your new grill.

Happy Queing,

The Que Dude