Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Tailgaters open up

We found real winners when you shared your recipes, from an Italian beef sandwich to Who Dey? Meatballs

By Chuck Martin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Tailgaters and their winning dishes (from left): Nancy La Grotta (La Grotta's Italian Beef Sandwiches); Jason Boberschmidt (Who Dey? Meatballs); Kathy McCarthy (Poor Man's Spaghetti); and Gayle Sphire (Chocolate-Peanut Butter Crispies).
(Brandi Stafford photo)
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When we asked readers to send us their best tailgating recipes last month, they blitzed us with more than 50 dishes.

The came from as far away as Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Winston-Salem, N.C., everything from Hoggie-Que Chicken to Goetta Kebabs to Sandy's Sauerkraut Surprise. Just about every recipe we received looked like it would go down well with football, either in a stadium parking lot or at home in front of the tube.

So it wasn't easy choosing tailgate winners in our four categories: Appetizer, main dish, side dish and dessert. But in judging recipes, we not only considered taste and creativity, we looked for dishes that could be prepared quickly on site, or prepared at home, transported easily and reheated at the game.

And we admit even the names of some of the tailgate dishes influenced us. Take the name of our main dish and grand prize winner, for instance. Doesn't "La Grotta's Italian Beef Sandwich" sound like the quintessential football food - like a two-fisted hoagie you'd gobble down with chips and slaw? Mike Ditka would rush the tailgate for this beefy, surprisingly tangy, smothered-with-cheese sandwich.

So here's to our winning 'gaters and everyone else who loves to eat and watch the tussle over the pigskin on weekends.

Best appetizer: Who Dey? Meatballs (Jason Boberschmidt, Mount Washington)
Runners-up: Spotted Jaguar Dip (Lysa Meyer, Milford)
Goetta Kebabs (Tom Rabe, Burlington)
Best main dish: La Grotta's Italian Beef Sandwiches (Nancy La Grotta, West Chester Township)
Runners-up: One-Pot Pre-Game (Vincent Morano, Delhi Township)
Party Pork Loin (Christine Cybulski, Sharonville)
Best Side Dish: Poor Man's Spaghetti (Kathy McCarthy, Delhi Township)
Runners-up: Bengals' Winning Salad (Peggy Leonard, Independence)
Super Bowl Bread (Kellie McGrady, Erlanger)
Best Dessert: Chocolate-Peanut Butter Crispies (Gayle Sphire, Fairfield)
Runners-up: Big Blue Berry Cream Pie (Ann Wilson, Union)
Pumpkin Bundt Cake (Amy Sivers, Edgewood)
• Make a list of what you need to bring.
• Bring your food in zip-lock bags when possible. This allows you to throw away the bags instead of washing containers. Use disposable aluminum pans.
• Buy the best bread and rolls for burgers, brats, etc.
• Bring chairs.
• Set the mood: Choose a parking lot with a view of the stadium if on-site parking is not available.
• Choose a parking lot (and space) that allows you to interact with other tailgaters.
• Bring water; you will need it to put out the fire, and it comes in handy for general cleanup.
• Have a theme for your tailgate. If it's Thanksgiving, bring a turkey. If it's Christmas, bring a tree. Or choose a theme based on the opponent; have Cajun food against the Saints, Philly cheese steaks against the Eagles, and fish against the Dolphins.
• Wear team colors and fly team flags.
• Things needed but often forgotten: Water, trash bags, paper towels, napkins, wet naps, kitchen knife (don't bring it into stadium) bottle opener and can opener.
Much of the fun in tailgating is cooking, but you don't have to cook everything to have a good time at the game. Supplement your tailgate picnic by ordering takeout chicken wings or ribs from your favorite restaurant. Assemble lettuce and fruit salads at the supermarket salad bar. Sliced cold cuts and cheese from the store deli make fine sandwiches. And pick up pies and cakes from a bakery.
If you're planning on take-out - especially from a restaurant - just remember to call ahead to place your order.
•  Ohio State Tailgating (Owl Bay; $8.95)
•  Pocket Idiot's Guide to Tailgating (Alpha; $9.95)
•  Tailgating Without a Hitch (Proctor; $12.95)
Does a "manifold dog" bark? No, a manifold dog is a tailgating appetizer that's ready as soon as you park in the stadium lot.
Fred Lukachinsky, a Bengals fan who lives in Pittsburgh, e-mailed to tell us how to make the treat: Wrap two hot dogs in foil and place on your vehicle's engine manifold. By the time you arrive, the engine will have cooked the dogs.
"It's quick, clean and pretty neat," writes Lukachinsky.
Shop for electric saucepans, gas-powered blenders, inflatable speakers and other tailgating gear at these sites:


Jason Boberschmidt of Mount Washington developed this meatball recipe on his own, and makes it frequently for friends who tailgate at Cincinnati Bengals games. "Who dey?" was a popular Bengals chant from the 1980s. We especially liked the sauce, which includes a dash of whiskey for "sweetness."

"Who Dey?" Meatballs


1 pound mild or spicy pork sausage

1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup finely diced Vidalia onion

1/2 teaspoon each: salt, pepper


1/2 cup apple jelly

1/4 cup spicy brown mustard

1/4 cup whiskey (I use Canadian Club)

1 teaspoon each: Worcestershire, Tabasco

To make meatballs, combine ingredients and shape into 11/2 inch balls. Place on a lightly greased jelly roll pan or cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

To make sauce, combine ingredients in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Cook for 1 minute, then add meatballs and cook 5 more minutes, stirring to make sure meatballs are coated well.

Refrigerate in a disposable aluminum casserole in refrigerator overnight. To reheat, put casserole on grill about 5 to 10 minutes. Spear with pretzel sticks to serve.

Makes about 25 to 30 meatballs.


Spotted Jag Dip

11/2 pounds Velveeta cheese, cut into chunks

6 ounces beer

2 14-ounce cans black-eyed peas, rinsed

1 small can diced jalapenos, or 2 to 4 fresh jalapenos, chopped

3-4 green onions, chopped, including green parts

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Place cheese and beer in large dish. Heat in microwave, stirring often, until cheese nearly melts. Add remaining ingredients, stir and microwave again until cheese completely melts. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Lysa Meyer, Milford

Goetta Kebabs

2 1-pound packages Glier's Goetta Bun links, cut into chunks

1 large onion, cut into wedges

2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and cut into wedges

2 green bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and cut into wedges

Bottled Italian dressing

Alternate wedges of goetta and vegetables on 8 metal or wooden skewers. Cook on grill over medium-high about 7 minutes, until goetta is crispy and vegetables are lightly charred. Just before removing from grill, brush with Italian dressing. Makes 8 skewers.

Tom Rabe, Burlington

Main dishes


Nancy La Grotta and her husband, Bill, of West Chester Township make large portions (as much as 16 pounds) of this hearty sandwich filling for tailgating parties at Purdue University, where their two daughters attend college. It's easy to make ahead and transport, and the beef packs a pleasant tangy flavor from the pickled peppers.

La Grotta's Italian Beef Sandwiches

1 boneless 4-pound beef roast, such as sirloin tip, top sirloin, top round, chuck steak or flank steak

1/4 cup water

13/4 teaspoons dried basil

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 16-ounce jar mild pickled pepper rings and their liquid

1 large onion, quartered and sliced crosswise thinly

Grated mozzarella or Asiago cheese

Hoagie or sandwich rolls

Cut roast into 6 to 9 large chunks. Mix spices, salt and pepper.

Place a third of beef in bottom of slow-cooker. Add water. Sprinkle meat with 1/2 of seasoning mixture. Add another third of beef. Add sliced onions, peppers and liquid from peppers. Add remaining third of beef and top with remaining seasoning mixture.

Cover and cook on low 8 to 9 hours, until beef shreds easily with fork. Place shredded beef and liquid in container, cover and refrigerate until game day. When ready to serve, reheat beef mixture in foil container on grill. Using slotted spoon, add hot beef to rolls and top with grated cheese. Makes 10 to 12 sandwiches.


Party Pork Loin

1 4-pound pork loin

2 12-ounce cans beer (dark or light)

1 Vidalia onion, sliced thinly

1 green bell pepper, sliced thinly

1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly

1/2 teaspoon each: pepper, garlic salt, garlic powder

Heat grill. Using several sheets of aluminum foil, make sturdy base for holding pork. Turn up sides of foil to contain beer and other ingredients.

Place pork in center of foil. Pour 1 can beer over pork and add sliced onion and peppers. Add pepper, garlic powder and garlic salt. Wrap foil around pork loosely, leaving top open.

Place pork on grill away from direct heat and cover grill. Cook about 11/2 hours until cooked tender. Add more beer during cooking as needed. Slice pork and serve with vegetables on buns or bread. Makes about 12 sandwiches.

Christine Cybulski , Sharonville

One-Pot Pre-Game

2 medium sweet onions, diced

About 1 dozen garlic cloves, peeled and minced (more and less garlic, depending on taste)

1 tablespoon salt

41/2 pounds lean ground beef

6 tablespoons chili powder

2 + 2 tablespoons cumin

1 + 3 tablespoons black pepper

1 teaspoon cayenne

3 bay leaves

11/2 pounds hot Italian sausages (eight links)

2 cans chicken broth

1 28-ounce can tomato puree

2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 6-ounce cans tomato paste

8 hot dog buns

Over medium heat in a large pot, cook onion until soft. Add minced garlic and 1 tablespoon salt. Cook and stir 5 minutes. Remove onion mixture to bowl and set aside.

Add ground beef to pot and brown well. Remove browned beef with slotted spoon and pour remaining grease from pot.

Pour drained beef back into pot and stir in onion mixture, chili powder, 2 tablespoons cumin, 1 tablespoon black pepper, cayenne and bay leaves. Cook on high 5 minutes stirring frequently.

Add sausages, chicken broth, tomato puree, diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup light brown sugar and 1 can tomato paste. Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover. Stir every 10 minutes for 11/2 hours.

Add remaining can tomato paste, remaining 1/4 cup light brown sugar, 2 tablespoons cumin, 2 to 3 tablespoons black pepper and salt to taste. Cover and simmer another 30 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves and sausages.

Serve sausages on buns with condiments of choice. Serve chili in bowls. Makes 8 generous servings.

Vincent Morano, Delhi Township

Side dishes


Kathy McCarthy of Delhi Township is a former Bengals season ticket-holder who still watches the games (and screams at the TV) at home. She claims this is a common potluck dish on Cincinnati's west side. We liked it because it can be prepared ahead, and it works as a main course for non-meat eaters.

Poor Man's Spaghetti

1 pound spaghetti, cooked, rinsed and drained

1 cucumber, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

6 green onions, thinly sliced

1 bottle Zesty Italian Salad Dressing (Kroger brand)

1 shaker bottle of Salad Seasoning (dry Kroger brand seasonings found in the spice aisle)

Put drained pasta in large bowl. Add chopped vegetables, bottle of salad dressing and bottle of salad seasonings. Stir well to coat spaghetti. Refrigerate overnight or at least 3 hours before serving. Makes 4 to 6 servings


Bengals' Winning Salad

1 large head lettuce

1 large onion, sliced thinly

1 head cauliflower, cut into small pieces


2 cups Miracle Whip

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup sugar

1 pound bacon, fried, drained and crumbled

Layer torn lettuce, sliced onion and cauliflower in bowl or serving container. Refrigerate over night.

Make dressing by whisking together Miracle Whip, Parmesan and sugar.

Just before serving, pour dressing over salad. Sprinkle crumbled bacon over top. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Peggy Leonard, Independence

Super Bowl Bread

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

11/2 sticks butter, softened

6 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

4 to 5 slices fried bacon, drained and chopped

3 to 4 green onions, chopped

1/2 package of 1-ounce Ranch Dressing mix (dry)

1 loaf of French or Italian bread, sliced lengthwise

Combine mayonnaise, butter, Parmesan, crumbled bacon, green onions and Ranch Dressing mix. Spread mixture on top of bread halves. Place bread on cookie sheet and broil until golden brown. Let cool and cut into serving pieces.

Kellie McGrady, Erlanger



Gayle Sphire of Fairfield is a University of Cincinnati graduate who admits she hasn't been to a football game in years. But this simple dessert goes over well at home and office parties, she says. We chose it because the bars are easy to eat, and because we adore chocolate and peanut butter.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Crispy Bars

1 bag peanut butter chips (about 2 cups) or 1 bag of peanut butter/milk chocolate chips

1/3 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup Crisco

5 cups crispy cereal, such as Rice Krispies


1 bag milk chocolate chips (about 2 cups)

1/4 cup Crisco

Lightly butter or Pam spray a 13-by-9-inch pan. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine peanut butter chips, peanut butter and 1/4 cup Crisco.

Microwave on high 1 minute. Stir and repeat as necessary until mixture is smooth. Stir into cereal until coated. Pour into pan and smooth even and level with back of spoon. Let set about 30 minutes.

To make glaze, mix chocolate chips and 1/4 cup Crisco in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high 1 minute. Stir and repeat as necessary until mixture is smooth. Pour on top of cereal mixture and gently spread. Refrigerate until firm.


Pumpkin Bundt Cake

1 package yellow cake mix

1 package (3.4 ounces) instant butterscotch pudding mix

4 eggs

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup canned pumpkin

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Beat on low speed 30 seconds; beat on medium for 4 minutes. Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch fluted tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees 50 to 55 minutes, or until cake tests done. Cool in pan 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 1 cake.

Amy Sivers, Edgewood

Big Blue Berry Cream Pie


1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening

4 to 5 tablespoons ice cold water


1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 egg beaten

2 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)


3 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons chopped nuts

3 tablespoons softened butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

To make pie crust, sift together flour and salt. Cut in half of shortening with pastry blender or two butter knives until pieces are size of small peas. Cut in remaining shortening.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon water over part of mixture and gently toss with fork. Push dough to side of bowl and repeat until all is moistened. Form dough into ball and flatten on lightly floured board or surface. Roll out with rolling pin until 1/8 inch-thick and place into 9-inch pie pan.

To make filling, combine sour cream, flour, sugar, vanilla, salt and egg in mixer. Beat 5 minutes at medium speed until smooth. Fold in blueberries and pour into pie crust. Bake 25 minutes. Combine and sprinkle topping. Bake 10 minutes longer. Cool on rack before serving.

Ann Wilson, Union

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