Eat ‘Em Up: Breakfast at the Bill Mark and Erik, Erik Pollom and Mark Crouser September 24, 2014 Eat 'em Up, Features Game Weeks on The Salute When I first looked at this season’s schedule of games with tailgate food in mind, the matchup with UTEP seemed to beg for Mexican food. I was ready to recommend a big taco/fajita bar for this weekend. I mean, the university is a short walk across a highway, some train tracks, and a river from Juarez, Mexico. In El Paso I think they call that shooting distance. But then the people who run college football (television networks) decided this should be an 11 a.m. kickoff. Morning games are challenging for several reasons. First and foremost, you’re shorter on time. The parking lots will open at 6 a.m., sure, but realistically most will arrive a little later than that. So what you need is a breakfast that doesn’t take too long to cook. So, what says El Paso? Well, cocaine and waffles is off the table, so the typical plan is for breakfast burritos or some kind of breakfast casserole that gets put together the night before and reheated on the lot. When I realized breakfast was on the menu, my mind immediately went straight to The Chef for inspiration. The place has really made a name for itself as the destination for great breakfast in Manhattan. Luckily, there’s something they make that translates well to the limitations of parking lot cooking and still has a bit of a Mexican twist. The Chef has a dish called the “Dang Quesadilla.” As in, “Knock it off, Napoleon! Make yourself a dang quesadilla!” It translates easily to the grill, and isn’t much more complicated than a breakfast burrito, but you won’t feel like you just wrapped some eggs and sausage in a cold tortilla. The Chef’s “Dang Quesadilla” The “Dang Quesadilla,” as described on their menu, is “bacon, potato, scrambled eggs, and cheddar jack cheese grilled in a flour tortilla and served with chipotle sauce and sour cream.” For the tailgate version, you can start by putting a skillet on one half of your grill for the scrambled eggs and potatoes. For potatoes you can get just about any variety of frozen hash browns. For what it’s worth, if you’re a tots fan, I bet you could put some right on the grill, rolling them after about ten minutes. I may give it a try out of sheer curiosity. On the open side of the grill, lay strips of bacon (I recommend thick cut) right on the grill. When the eggs, potatoes and bacon are done, take some cheese and cover half a tortilla. Lay the other ingredients over that, and then put another layer of cheese across the top. Fold the tortilla over, mash it down a little, and lay the whole thing in some free space back on the grill. It won’t take long, just a couple of minutes, before you’ll need to flip it. The idea is to melt the cheese and lightly grill the tortilla. Wait too long and you’ll have a scorched, dry shell. If you’re worried about it sticking, spray some canola or olive oil on the grill. You’ll probably want that for the skillet anyway. I’m hoping the bacon grease already on the grill does the job (because bacon is the solution to so many cooking problems). I don’t have the secret to The Chef’s chipotle sauce, but I do know that the Chipotle Tabasco is not too spicy, and has great flavor if you’re looking to add a bit of a kick. Also, if you want something a little more Mexican than potatoes, eggs, and bacon, you can always trade out the bacon for some spicy chorizo. Breakfast Beer? Yup. Recommending a beer before lunch is always a bit of a challenge. After all, this is one of the few socially-acceptable occasions to be popping a top before noon. Sure, there are mimosas, Irish coffee, and the potentially-appropriate tequila sunrise, but we’re beer guys – plain and simple. When it comes to choosing a breakfast beer, the best option is to go with something coffee-like. The most coveted version is probably Founders Brewing Company’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout. It combines coffee, chocolate, and bourbon barrel aging in perfect harmony. The problem is that finding one of those is about as rare as seeing Bigfoot or even a KU football conference win, and costs about five dollars a bottle. I guess that doesn’t sound so bad when you compare it to how much KU has spent for each of their wins, but I digress. I have one bottle of “KBS” left, and quite frankly I wouldn’t break it out for UTEP. Sorry, Miners. A totally accessible, tasty, and local option is Tallgrass Brewing Company’s Buffalo Sweat oatmeal stout (see, sounds like breakfast already). Roasty, malty, and with a chocolate sweetness, you can consider it the tailgate substitute for your morning coffee. It weighs in at 5% ABV, so it’s not too aggressive for early in the day, and it won a gold medal at the US Open Beer Championships. What’s more, it’s in cans so the parking lot trolls won’t give you grief. Last Thursday we quizzed them extensively about the new rules, and as long as it’s not glass, it’ll pass. And with that, the days of plausible deniability and opaque plastic cups are over! Part of me will miss the unofficially-sanctioned deception. As always, if you have other ideas for this or other upcoming tailgates, drop us a line. We’d love to hear what you have planned. See you on the lot!