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Naked Epicurean: Tantalizing tailgating

The best season of the year is finally here: college football season!

Are you that fan who always wears his team’s jersey? Or maybe that gal who sings the fight song at the top of her lungs? Or maybe you paint your face in your team’s colors? I applaud all of those efforts; however, don’t overlook the tailgate. Cheer your team on with an amazing tailgate spread! 

You only get a few precious Saturdays to do this right, so grab your gang and your gear because you’re about to tailgate like you mean it.  You only get twelve shots (+ a three-peat!) at providing a well-curated spread that will elevate your tailgate to next level bragging rights. These recipes are definitely something to root for! 

NOTE Part of my tailgate curation includes two non-negotiables:

1. a Designated Driver. Find a selfless someone who can be counted on to act responsibly, and

2. a Designated Griller. I like to do all my work prior to the party because I want to enjoy it.  I suggest either buying the chicken/ribs/brats or assigning someone else stand over the hot grill.

That being said, you’ll earn a big W with these satisfying tailgate recipes. So pull up a chair, fix yourself a plate, and enjoy your stress-free celebration.

Pour yourself a tall one

Bourbon spiked lemonade

First things first: pour yourself a much-deserved drink. Tailgating in the South requires some serious thirst quenching, and this BOURBON SPIKED LEMONADE is here to help. Tall, extra chilly lemonade never disappoints, but why not elevate it Kentucky-style by adding a flick of bourbon? The complexity of bourbon + tang of lemonade make this sipper a perfect respite on hot days. Reach for bourbons with citrusy, fruity notes. As for the lemonade, you could make your own, but why? (Remember: you’re here to enjoy the party!) The splash of soda adds nice effervescence, and the fresh herb sprig gives this drink a lovely aroma. 

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗬𝗼𝘂’𝗹𝗹 𝗡𝗲𝗲𝗱

▪︎52 oz Simply All Natural Lemonade

▪︎Ice

▪︎Bourbon, as needed

▪︎Club soda, as needed

▪︎1 small bunch fresh mint or basil

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗬𝗼𝘂’𝗹𝗹 𝗗𝗼

Pour lemonade over loads of ice in a tall glass. Add bourbon (you do you). Give it a little stir. Top it with soda and garnish with fresh herbs.

Cajun-spiced boiled peanuts

These CAJUN-SPICED BOILED PEANUTS are perfectly snack-a-licious. The Cajun spices give these peanuts a nice touch of heat. Your slow cooker does all the work overnight while you get your beauty sleep. 

Cajun-spiced boiled peanuts

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗬𝗼𝘂’𝗹𝗹 𝗡𝗲𝗲𝗱

▪︎¼ C salt

▪︎1  3-oz pkg. boil-in-bag shrimp-and-crab boil 

▪︎⅓+ C Frank’s Red Hot

▪︎1 tsp garlic powder

▪︎¼ C vinegar

▪︎2 lbs raw peanuts* in their shells 

▪︎4 quarts water

*Raw peanuts are the ones more commonly found in grocery stores. If you’re lucky enough to find green peanuts, use those and cut your cooking time in half.

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗬𝗼𝘂’𝗹𝗹 𝗗𝗼

Dump all your seasonings in a 6-qt slow cooker. Wash peanuts well under cold water. Add peanuts to crock; cover with water. Cook on high for 12-20 hours, depending on which type of peanuts you use. Stir occasionally. Add more water if needed. 

Deconstructed Hoagie Dip

Score big with this DECONSTRUCTED HOAGIE DIP. This crowd pleaser disappears every time I make it! The edible, chewy bread bowl is perfect for dipping. I sometimes add black olives and Parmesan shreds just for funzies.

If you’re afraid the bread bowl will become soggy over the course of the shindig, drop a small, clear plastic bowl into the bread.

Deconstructed hoagie dip

If you are traveling a few hours to your tailgate, add the tomato, lettuce, cheese and mayo just before serving. 

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗬𝗼𝘂’𝗹𝗹 𝗡𝗲𝗲𝗱 

▪︎¼ lb thinly sliced deli boiled ham

▪︎¼ lb thinly sliced deli capicola

▪︎¼ lb thinly sliced deli pepper salami

▪︎¼ lb thinly sliced deli turkey

▪︎¼ lb thinly sliced deli provolone cheese

▪︎¼ small red onion, chopped

▪︎½ small green bell pepper, seeded + chopped

▪︎jarred hot and sweet peppers, drained + chopped

▪︎½ head of iceberg lettuce, chopped

▪︎1 large tomato, seeded + chopped

▪︎½ C mayonnaise

▪︎2 Tbsp EVOO

▪︎1+ Tbsp red vinegar

▪︎1+ Tbsp Italian seasoning

▪︎¼ tsp red pepper flakes

▪︎coarse black pepper, to taste

▪︎1 10″ round loaf Italian bread

▪︎2 hoagie rolls (lightly toasted, if desired)  cut into pieces for dipping 

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗬𝗼𝘂’𝗹𝗹 𝗗𝗼

1. Cut meats and cheese into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Add chopped vegetables. Whisk together mayonnaise, olive oil, vinegar and seasonings. Pour into bowl and stir until well coated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

2. Carve out the center of the loaf to make a bowl, being careful not to cut through the bottom. Cut/tear the bread pieces. Slice or tear the hoagie rolls, as well. 

3. Serve the hoagie dip in the bread bowl. Sprinkle with black pepper, if desired. Scoop the dip with the extra bread and hoagie rolls.

Southern Pickled Shrimp

When serving a big crowd, I always like to provide at least one non-meat option. The recipe for these bright, clean SOUTHERN PICKLED SHRIMP is one folks simply cannot get enough of. They are delicious by themselves or atop baguette slices. Saltine crackers will also do in a pinch.  If serving outdoors, keep shrimp cool and out of the sun by nestling their serving dish in ice.   

Southern pickled shrimp

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗬𝗼𝘂’𝗹𝗹 𝗡𝗲𝗲𝗱

▪︎3 lbs large fresh Georgia shrimp

▪︎2 large Vidalia onions, sliced into thin rings

▪︎2 juicy lemons, cut into thin rings

▪︎a few sliced grape tomatoes 

marinade

▪︎¾ C cider vinegar

▪︎½ C quality mild olive oil

▪︎2 bay leaves

▪︎3.5 oz bottle of capers, undrained

▪︎¼ C ketchup

▪︎¼ C peppercorns

▪︎3 Tbsp sugar

▪︎3 Tbsp Worcestershire

▪︎1 tsp Tabasco

Southern pickled shrimp

▪︎1 tsp sea salt

▪︎¼ C parsley, roughly chopped

▪︎¼ C dill, roughly chopped

▪︎more fresh parsley + dill for garnish

▪︎crackers and toothpicks for serving

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗬𝗼𝘂’𝗹𝗹 𝗗𝗼

1. Clean shrimp, keeping tails intact. Boil for 2-3 minutes until they turn pink and curl into the letter C. Remove from water and pat dry. 

2. In a large glass bowl layer shrimp, onions, and lemons. Mix marinade ingredients, slowly pouring and whisking olive oil to emulsify it. Pour marinade over ingredients in bowl. Chill for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

3. Garnish with parsley + dill. Serve with crackers and/or toothpicks.

Greek Salad Skewers with Creamy Dressing

Decadent dips, gorgeously grilled meats, and sinful sweets make tailgating fare (party fare, in general!) my favorite food group. But I always like balancing that indulgence with something healthy-ish. These GREEK SALAD SKEWERS WITH CREAMY DRESSING sate that craving. Plus, everything is more fun on a stick! Add toasted cubes of a baguette to the skewers for a more hearty salad.

Greek Salad Skewers

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗬𝗼𝘂’𝗹𝗹 𝗡𝗲𝗲𝗱 (approximations) 

▪︎12-15  22″ bamboo skewers

▪︎1 English cucumber

▪︎½ large red onion*

▪︎1 bag mini sweet peppers (red, yellow, orange)

▪︎1 container cherry tomatoes

▪︎1 jar pitted kalamata olives

▪︎2 heads of romaine lettuce

▪︎1  8 oz brick creamy feta cheese, divided (reserve ⅓ C for dressing + some for garnish)

▪︎mint leaves cut into ribbons for garnish

*if red onions are too strong for you, try soaking them in water to mollify their bite

Creamy Greek Dressing

▪︎⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

▪︎2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

▪︎1 Tbsp dijon mustard

▪︎1 tsp minced garlic

▪︎⅓ cup feta cheese, crumbled

▪︎¼ cup plain Greek yogurt

▪︎1 Tbsp fresh parsley

▪︎1 Tbsp fresh basil

▪︎1 Tbsp fresh mint

▪︎¼ tsp dried oregano

▪︎pinch of sea salt

▪︎pinch of freshly cracked black pepper

▪︎2 Tbsp water (if needed for thinning)

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗬𝗼𝘂’𝗹𝗹 𝗗𝗼

1. Break off ⅓ C of feta from the block. Place remaining block in the freezer for 10-15 min for easier cubing. Make your dressing in a blender or food processor. Set aside.

2. Cut cucumber, red onion, peppers and romaine into bite sized pieces. Remove feta from freezer and cut into cubes.

3. Skewer salad ingredients, alternating vegetables/ colors. 

4. Drizzle skewers with dressing. Garnish with ribbons of fresh mint and crumbled feta.

Coconut cream pie jars

Easy to make and even easier to eat, these COCONUT CREAM PIE JARS will satisfy your sweet tooth without a lot of work. Serving the pie filling in jars is a fun way to enjoy this creamy treat. I sometimes place a vanilla wafer or some Graham cracker crumbs in the bottom of the jar for extra texture and zhuzh.

Coconut cream pie jars

 

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗬𝗼𝘂’𝗹𝗹 𝗡𝗲𝗲𝗱

▪︎2  3.4 oz pkgs instant vanilla pudding mix

▪︎2¾ C cold 2% milk

▪︎1 tsp coconut extract

▪︎8 oz frozen whipped topping, thawed

▪︎½ C sweetened shredded coconut

▪︎optional garnish: Cool Whip or Reddi-Whip, toasted coconut

𝗪𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗬𝗼𝘂’𝗹𝗹 𝗗𝗼

Whisk together the pudding, milk and extract in a large bowl for 2 minutes. Fold in whipped topping and coconut. Spoon into jars. Top with more whipped topping and sprinkle with toasted coconut. Chill until serving.

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Build a championship-worthy spread with these food and drink ideas for your next tailgate. No matter which team comes out on top, you’re guaranteed to emerge a winner.

Ann Beth Strelec is known around town as Naked Epicurean. This cocktail connoisseur also has mad skills in the kitchen and on the grill. Subscribe to the Augusta Good News newsletter here.

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