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Game Weeks on The Salute

Game Weeks on The Salute

Tailgate #1, Stephen F. Austin: K-State fans… are you ready?

Every summer there comes a morning when you walk outside and get your first nose full of cool air. If you’re anything like me, your thoughts immediately turn to football, and your mind starts to fill in the blanks. Suddenly the air carries traces of charcoal smoke, bratwurst, and beer. You can almost hear quad drums competing with a party bus blasting “Parking Lot Party” over yet another party bus blasting “Jump Around.” I love that moment.

When I sat down to write some recommendations for the first tailgate of the football season, I could hardly narrow it down. What do I want when the first purple canopy goes up and the party goes down?  In the words of Queen from the pregame playlist, “I want it all, and I want it now.” I want sausages, wings, chili, burgers, chips, dips, beer… all of it! Well, don’t worry – we’ll get to it all eventually.

Everybody has their own style and taste when it comes to what you want from your tailgate. Some are more elaborate than others. You see everything from quick hot dogs on a tiny portable grill to big spreads of barbecue and casseroles that would impress a professional caterer. Over the course of this season, Mark and I will offer a few suggestions for what you might want to serve up that’s somewhere in between. Mark’s tastes are a little more exotic than mine, but then most everybody’s are. Between the two of us we hope you find something you’ll like. Sometimes we’ll both have contrasting ideas, and sometimes we’ll be on the same page.

First up is Stephen F. Austin. In this case the “F” doesn’t mean the same thing as it does when people use it as the middle initial of someone they want to praise on Twitter. Most of the time we try to tailor our menu to the opponent, but this one really gives us nothing to work with unless you plan to serve cupcakes. For the home opener, it’s usually hotter than Tyler Lockett’s shoes after a kickoff return to the house. With that in mind, for this game we plan to keep it relatively cool.

“Bring me the finest meats and cheeses in all the land!” – ESPN’s Kenny Mayne

For the main dish I’m considering two approaches. If the forecast is stupid hot like last year, and you just can’t imagine standing over a grill, I say go with hero sandwiches (cue the Foo Fighters music). Get some good bread from the bakery counter — preferably big long loaves of Italian or French bread. Go ahead and cut them into sections and halves before you leave. After that, it’s as easy as getting an assortment of good deli meats and cheeses, along with whatever else you want to pile on (tomatoes, lettuce, you know what you like). For meats I lean toward sliced roast beef, turkey, and ham. Add some swiss, provolone and/or American cheese, and you’re in business. Obviously you’ll want an assortment of condiments waiting in the cooler.

Now, you might be thinking that cold cut sandwiches (regardless of their awesomeness), are not going to do the trick when you have been waiting so long to break out the tailgate grill. In that case you can do a couple of things. One is to take those sandwiches to the next level by grilling some bacon for them. Yes, it can be done, and it’s amazing.

Another option is to grill an affordable cut of steak (like sirloin) with some good seasoning. Bring a cutting board and something to chop it up, and BOOM!.. cheesesteaks (my personal nomination for king of sandwiches). Cutting the steak into pieces that are big enough not to fall through the grill will help it cook a little faster. You don’t want it too rare for sandwiches.

If you get the steak from the grill to the bread fast enough, the cheese will melt nicely, especially if it’s between the meat and bread. If it’s not cooperating, you can always briefly bake them on the grill just long enough to toast the bread and soften the cheese. Make sure you get the grill lid closed or you’ll just scorch them on the bottom. A skillet to one side of the grill can provide a place for cooking up onions and peppers. The nice thing about this is that steak and peppers cook quickly, so you won’t have to spend a lot of time sweating over it. Oh yeah, and it’s steak and cheese.

The last order of business for this blog is to talk about beer, and let’s be honest, it’s probably your first order of business after putting your vehicle in park. Is there anything more satisfying than settling in to your lawn chair or hopping up (see what I did there?) on the tailgate of a truck outside Bill Snyder Family Stadium and taking that first long drink of ice cold beer? No need to answer, it’s a rhetorical question.

Halcyon Wheat... you taste of Kansas.

Halcyon Wheat… you taste of Kansas.

For this game I’m recommending Tallgrass Brewing Company’s Halcyon Wheat. Usually I’m a real hop head, but Halcyon is awesome on a hot day. If you like Boulevard’s wheat beer and you haven’t tried this one from Tallgrass, you really need to get your hands on some. I dare say you may like it better.

There is one more thing I have to offer in the beverage department. I’m a beer guy, but sometimes there are certain special drinks that speak to the occasion. On New Year’s it’s champagne. At a KU football game, they prefer w(h)ine. But this is the K-State Family Reunion, and it’s time to break out a family recipe. Few drinks say “I Miss Manhattan” more than a bona fide summer beer from Rock-a-Belly Deli.  I’ve made my own before, but to be authentic the folks at Rock-A-Belly were kind enough to tell us exactly what goes into theirs:

Rock-A-Belly Deli’s Summer Beer

  1. 3 oz. vodka
  2. Half “bargain tap” (think Old Mil)
  3. Half lemonade

For what it’s worth, summer beers are also great when made with a good wheat beer. See? It’s all coming together. Just remember to exercise a little restraint on the vodka. There’s a reason I didn’t post a recipe for Belfast Bombers. Ultimately we’re there to enjoy a football game. Waking up in your lawn chair at halftime is no way to back the ‘Cats.

Check back with “Eat ‘em Up” here on The Salute every home game week to see what other ideas we might throw your way. If you’re the kind of person who just wants to toss some brats on a grill every game, we certainly aren’t going to judge. Hell, we get it. It’s a beautiful thing, and you can bet it will make an appearance in a future post. But if you want to mix things up from one game to the next, we have options for you. Let us know if you try any of them, and feel free to send us your best tailgate recipes. We might include some in future posts. See you in the parking lot!

About The Author

Mark and Erik are former roommates at Kansas State and current fans of all things EMAW. Follow them on Twitter at @MarkCrouserKC and @ErikPollom.

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