Football + Meat = America.

When Mark and I talked about what sounds good for the TCU game, we agreed that the opponent’s mascot wasn’t going to do much for inspiration. It’s a lizard they call a frog and just… no. The opponent’s home town, on the other hand, was quick to inspire an idea that quite frankly I’m amazed we’ve never tried on the lot. The stockyards of Fort Worth, Texas immediately turn one’s thoughts to steak. Few things are as awesome as a big T-bone steak still sizzling on your plate. If you want to drop some serious cash then by all means run with that. For a tailgate party, however, there’s a substitute that is pretty perfect for the challenges of the parking lot, and not nearly as hard to cook well.

Let’s talk about meat on a stick. It’s scalable, portable, easy to cook quickly, and the clean up couldn’t be easier. I’m recommending one of two forms: kebabs or satays. Everybody knows kebabs. You simply cut your steak into big bites, marinate it for a while, and stack it on a skewer with whatever other less awesome things you think might complement it. Potatoes (I prefer small red potatoes cut in half with a little Joe’s Kansas City french fry seasoning), peppers, and mushrooms are the common companions. While it looks awesome to have them all on the same skewer, I find it’s better to put the meat on its own. If you want your potatoes to be cooked through, you won’t turn your steak to jerky in the process just because they’re stick mates.

Satays. Like a popsicle, only better!

Satays. Like a popsicle, only better!

The second option, satays, involves cutting long strips of steak and threading them onto a skewer by themselves. Usually this is done with Asian-inspired sauces and marinades, but I find a good dry rub with a little steak sauce as an option is more appropriate for this venue.

Whether you choose kebabs or satays, you can prepare the meat well before the game. A more affordable cut is more than acceptable for this type of grilling. You don’t need a ribeye, strip or filet. Think sirloin or even a good cut of flank steak. If you have a marinade that you like, you can cut the steak and put it in plastic bags with the marinade in the cooler. Keep them in there all the way to the game, and they’re ready for skewering. The same goes for a good dry rub if you have a favorite. There are lots of good options at the grocery store for both marinades and dry rubs. If you want to get really creative, you could try sirloin kebabs with each piece wrapped in bacon like a miniature filet mignon.

Keep the skewer ends over the edge of the grill if you can.

Set up your grill for high searing heat. You shouldn’t be able to hold your hand over the grill surface for more than a couple of seconds. While the coals are getting ready, skewer your food. I recommend bamboo skewers because you can just throw them away when you’re done. When the grill is good and hot, spray some non-stick spray on the grill and lay the skewers on with the ends of the sticks protruding over the edge.

It shouldn’t take long for these to cook — just a couple of minutes on each side if your grill is hot enough. Imagine how popular you’ll be when you start handing out steak-on-a-stick. People cooking hot dogs and preformed frozen hamburgers will look longingly at your grill and nod at you before turning to their friends and saying, “We should’ve done something like that.” Now, on to the beer.

Kill a few zombies.

Kill a few zombies.

When it comes to choosing a beer to go with steak, you can’t go weak, and you don’t want hoppy. The best companion for red meat is robust, malty, and maybe even a little smoky. When I’m in Manhattan I always like to drink a little of the local beer, and for steak I’m going back to a recommendation I made last year. Tallgrass Brewing Company’s Zombie Monkie is a “robust porter” that has all of the qualities I just mentioned and is outstanding by itself, let alone alongside steak. It’s even appropriately named for October, and it’s gone when October is over so go get some while you can. Other good options include Deschutes Obsidian Stout and Founders Porter.

I hope you found something here that you can use. Maybe you have some ideas of your own to share. As always, let us know if you try something from these suggestions, and we’ll see you on the lot!

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