Sweet Victory: Tailgating NC Style
It’s mid-morning on an autumn Sunday, and all along the normally buttoned-down avenues of Uptown Charlotte, gas and charcoal grills are coming to life. The smell of cooked meat soon permeates the air around Bank Of America Stadium, while footballs are thrown and beanbags are tossed on parking lots all over the city.
The Carolina Panthers are a relatively new entry into the National Football League (established in 1995), but their fans in Charlotte are carrying on a tradition long established at college campuses and racetracks from Chapel Hill to Cullowhee. Tailgating in North Carolina is as much a part of the culture here as red clay and blue skies, and has been around just about as long.
In the high country of Boone, for example, tailgating for Appalachian State football games is serious enough to have it’s own web site and its own traditions. In the “Mountaineer Walk”, fans temporarily leave their tailgating sites about three and a half hours before kickoff to line the path between Newland and Trivette Halls, and join with the band and the cheerleading squad to give the team a loud sendoff as it makes its way to the stadium.
Of course, it’s not just football that brings people out for a tailgate celebration in North Carolina. At the Queen’s Cup Steeplechase every April in Mineral Springs, fine china, tablecloths, floral arrangements, and people dressed in their Sunday best lend a Southern gentility to the tailgating experience. In Raleigh, fans of the Carolina Hurricanes have established one of the few tailgating traditions in the National Hockey League. And NASCAR fans could be considered some of the most hardcore tailgaters in all of professional sports, sometimes stretching their outdoor celebrations into a full week around Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“Tailgating is a perfect fit for the South,” says Raleigh food writer Debbie Moose, author of Fan Fare: A Playbook of Great Recipes for Tailgating or Watching the Game at Home. “That’s because it combines two Southern favorites: sports and food.” She notes that while the tailgate was probably invented up north when trains and carriages carried fans to Ivy League football games, the tradition has blossomed in North Carolina and the rest of the South thanks to pleasant weather and devoted fans.
So come on out and join the party… and cheer your team to sweet victory! Here are some game time recipes to get you started:
Courtesy Sheri Castle (www.shericastle.com )
8 ounces sliced pimentos, drained
1 pound extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese
¼ cup minced or grated onion
¾ to 1¼ cups Duke’s Mayonnaise
½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Stir together the pimentos, cheeses, and onion. Stir in enough mayonnaise to make a chunky paste that just holds together. Stir in the cayenne, lemon juice, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve at room temperature. Makes about four cups.
New Year’s Day Slow Cooker Chicken Wings
Courtesy Debbie Moose, Fan Fare: A Playbook of Great Recipes for Tailgating or Watching the Game at Home
2 teaspoons chipotle hot sauce
¼ cup coarse grain mustard
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons chili sauce
½ teaspoon cider vinegar
8 whole chicken wings, split at joints and wing tips discarded
¼ cup water
In a small bowl, stir together the hot sauce, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, chili sauce, and cider vinegar. Place the wings in the bottom of a 4½ quart slow cooker. Pour in the water. Pour the sauce over the wings, stirring to coat well. Cook on HIGH for two hours. Serve hot or warm. Serves four.
Extra Points: You can make the sauce up to two days ahead and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Grilled Corn On The Cob
Courtesy GTCC Culinary School, Greensboro
6 ears of corn
6 tablespoons butter, softened
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil the grate. Peel back corn husks and remove silk. Place one tablespoon butter, and salt and pepper on each piece of corn. Close husks. Wrap each ear of corn tightly in aluminum foil, place on the prepared grill. Cook approximately 30 minutes, turning occasionally, until corn is tender.
Courtesy Katie Bonkemeyer Ezell, ASU ’00
3 cans of beer
3 beer cans of water
1 chopped onion
½ stick butter
Dash salt and pepper
In a large pot on the stove, pour in the beer and the water, add the bratwursts, onion, butter, salt and pepper. Cook on LOW for 6-7 hours, stirring once every hour (This can be cooked the night before and stored in the refrigerator until tailgate time.) Grill when ready.
added: December 22, 2008
updated: May 3, 2010
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