Turn that parking lot into a roadhouse

Football games are just an excuse to throw a party

A football game is just a good excu se for a party— prefer ably a tailgate party.

Act ua lly, concer ts and ot her stadium events are also becoming popular reasons to host a tailgate part y, so even if you hate football you st ill might want to consider hosting a ta ilgate party some day.

Tai lgate parties ar e ca sual and a lot of fun, and are esp ecia lly easy to plan and throw. They can be as si mple as sandwiches and chips, or extremely or nate and ti me consuming.

Some people spend days prepari ng for a tailgate pa rty - and ther e are even contests with stiff compet it ion to prove who is the best tai lgater.

Tradit ionally, tailgate pa rties have been held in the parking lot of a stadiu m or in an area set aside specifically for ta ilgating.

More recently, with some college s and cities pr ohibiting tailgat ing at the game, tailgate parties have been held in other park ing lots (with permission) or even closer to home - usually in the driveway.

Before throwing a ta ilgate party, make sure they are allowed where you are going, what rest riction s there might be, and what facilit ies are ava ilable.

Supplies will probably be limite d, so be prepa red to bring everythi ng you mig ht need. This includes ba sics like water, emer - gency medical supplies, seating, and tra sh bags.

You also need to decide wh at type of par ty you want to have and how lar ge of a pa rty you want to have. More commonly you wil l see smaller groups of people with a packed meal— or el se a smal l grill and a few other dishe s. If you are planning on grilling or smok ing, make sure you can transport your grill or smoker and your fuel safely.

Se t up your grill away from cars and your seating area and make sure the sur face is level.

Have water or a fire ext inguisher handy in case of emergencies. Never leave the grill unat tended, and ma ke sure to dispose of your charcoal sa fely.

Some popula r gr illed or smoked meat s are bratwu rst or It alian sausages, pork chops, steaks, ribs, short ribs, ham, chicken, seafood, game, and of cour se, hamburger and hot dogs.

Grilled and smoked dishes are ver y common at tailgate partie s, but perhaps the most popular dish is Chili.

It is ea sy to make ahead o f time - or even on site - and is hot and filling which can be important if you are tailgating in colder areas.

Other popular hot dishe s are jambalaya, soups, casseroles, pizza, chicken wings, nachos, fajitas, grille d vegetables, stews, la sagna, ba ked ziti, macaroni and cheese, and almost any thing else that cooks quick ly or is easily portable. Sandwiches ar e also extremely popular. While cold sa ndwiches wil l always work, football sea son can be pret ty chi li and hot sandw iches may be more tempt ing. Some favorites are me atball subs, brisket, pulled beef or pork, be ef on weck, muffa letta, Philly cheese steak sandw iches, or other local favorites.

Side dishes range from cold pasta, potato, and vegetable salads to hot potato and vegetables dishe s, savory bre ads, soups, and especially ba ked beans.

Desser ts are typical ly made ahead of time, and are easy to eat. Cookies, dense un fr osted cakes are the easiest to handle, but you frequently will see other cakes and pies as well.

While many a tailgater insists that it would not be a ta ilgate party without beer, there ar e plenty of other typ es of drin ks that your guest might appr eciate

- and some stadiums do not allow alc oholic beverages.

Ca nned soda or juice, bot tled water, and even cockt ails are favor ites on the cold side.

A big pot of cider, cof fee, and/ or coc oa is also great, and hot be verage s also work rea lly well in thermoses.

One of the most important things to consider is food safet y. Not on ly do you need to worry about storing food sa fely before you eat it and cooking it thoroughly, you also need to pla n how you will store leftovers. Make sure you have lots of ice and plenty of food safe storage containers or bags to handle any leftover food.

Keep cold items cold, and hot items hot before eat ing, and make sur e to bring a thermometer or two so there is no gue ss- ing about the temp erature.

Don’t leave per ishable food out for more than two hours. Bec ause many places will not have soap and water, make sure to br ing anti- bacteria l wipes and clea n every thing thoroug hly once you get home.

A few other things to remember are disp osable plates and silverwa re, napk ins, condiment s, salt and pepper, bott le and can opener s, plenty of ice, chairs or stools, paper towels, folding table s, blanke ts, and protect ion from the sun, rain, or snow. Make sure not to forget your tickets.

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2011-09-29 digital edition

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