From the outside looking in, tailgating seems all fun and whimsy and sipping cold beers kept colder by novelty coozies. All you see are smiling parents flipping perfectly grill-marked burgers, kids playing two-hand-touch, friends and neighbors under a canopy, on a couch, comfortably watching the day’s earlier games in hi-def via satellite TV.
What you don’t see are the hours of planning, processing, prepping ingredients, and loading up the car the night before. If you’re not a seasoned veteran, your tailgate dreams can turn into sunburnt, undercooked nightmares real fast. That’s why we enlisted the help of David LeFevre; not only is he the chef at M.B. Post, Fishing With Dynamite, and The Arthur J, he’s also a hardcore Packers fan and parking lot cooking enthusiast. Here are his six essential tailgating tips.
1. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail. Skewer and/or marinade the meats night before; slice and pack burger toppings in advance; have burger patties molded and layered between wax paper ready to grill. No need to make chili from scratch in a parking lot, just have it ready to reheat.
2. Start early; end early. arrive 3 1/2 hours before the game and eat 2 hours before, that way you have plenty of time to clean up reorganize and get to the game on time.
3. Bring extra. That goes for both food and equipment. People will always join unexpectedly and you will need extra dogs, burgers and sides. And you can never have enough ice, charcoal, gas, or tongs!
4. Be smart with your cooler. Start with a clean cooler. Pre-cool the canned and bottled drinks so you don’t waste ice. The ice should be to maintain the cold, and it will last longer that way. Place them on the bottom covered by a layer of ice that can drip down to fill the cracks of air between them. Place a water tight reusable container or ziplocked items on top of the ice. Fill up your cooler enough so there isnt a lot of room for hot air to creep in. Also you can use your cooler as a warmer, just place warm bricks in foil on the bottom and you can keep soups, chilis, casseroles warm until serving!
5. Food and drink “do it yourself” stations are great. Bloody Mary bars, frito pie or nacho stations, hot dog stations with fun condiments, or a sausage station with 4 types of sausages. You can even do a chili station with macaroni, jalapenos, cheeses, sour cream, etc. People can make their own style and you don’t have to worry about that one person who isnt a spicy fan.
6. Most Importantly: HAVE FUN! Do as much prep in advance so you can enjoy the day and not be tied down prepping and cooking while your friends are around or the game is going on. Almost everything aside from the final cooking of burgers, dogs, skewers, chicken, etc, can be done the day ahead. AND DON’T FORGET TO SHOW OFF YOUR TEAMS COLORS AND STAND PROUD!