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Part 1 – BBQ Tailgating Preparation

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

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