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Husker Football: Big Red Tailgate Recipes - Week One

We’ve been searching for a way to give you, the discerning Husker football fan, the best tailgate recipes and we’re happy to say we found the perfect person. Kelli Anne Francis, an Omaha native so good at tailgating she’s had multiple articles written about her work, will be checking in weekly.

You’ll get recipes, etiquette and…well, why don’t you see for yourself? Take it away, Kelli:

It’s that time of year again when the leaves start to change and the cool air starts to roll in. That means Husker football season! The sound of the drum line as it goes by on their way to the stadium. The masses of people wearing their team colors and enjoying a festive pre-game atmosphere.

Whether you just wrapped up baseball tailgating and your grill is still warm, or if your coolers need to be taken out of the storage closet there are certain things that just demand repeating.

The No. 1 rule of tailgating? Well there are lots of different answers to that question, but in my humble opinion: Always ask the host, “What can I bring?”

This small but important question should always be asked. Even if the host says don’t bring anything, do bring SOMETHING.

Anything. Most serious tailgaters can always use more napkins, table service, pop or water. If you are enjoying the spoils of their hard work and planning, at least have the courtesy as a good attendee to help the cause.

If you run short on time, always plan to toss some cold, hard cash their direction as a token of your appreciation.

If you plan to spend the entire season as a guest of a tailgate, I suggest you “up” your game and purchase some type of game day “swag” for the tailgate.

Do they need bunting with the team logo on it? Would they prefer logo plastic cups? Or a flag to help identify their tailgate in the crowd?

With the myriad of online places to purchase team merchandise, if you say you can’t find it, you’re really not trying.

I’m a Husker fan. I can find everything from thimbles to trashcans with the Big Red “N” on them. If it’s the host’s favorite team, the gift will be appreciated (but do pass on the snuggie with the arms….more about that in a later post).

Most every tailgate I’ve ever attended includes food.  Cold.  Hot.  Messy.  Bland.  Spicy.  All different kinds of food is part of the fun.  I plan my tailgates around the particular game.

This week our enemy is the Florida Atlantic Owls, so of course, there will be yard bird on the grill!

Some teams do not lend themselves to themed food, the Michigan State Spartans, for example and what exactly is a Fighting Illini?

Green and orange food is fine if you’re making a salad, but it makes tailgating a little more challenging.

For outside tailgating, I prefer BBQ drumsticks on the grill. It’s a convenient finger food and doesn’t take a lot of time. Plus, if there are leftovers, you can whip up chicken salad and it’s all good.

The way that I prepare legs takes all the stress out of it.

  • Place 2 pounds of legs (with the skin on) in a large stock pot.
  • Add in a large quartered Vidalia onion and a couple of cut up carrots.
  • Put in enough water to cover and boil then for about 30-40 minutes. (I do this the day before or morning of depending on time of the game and tailgate.)
  • Take the legs out of the pot and place them in a glass casserole dish in opposite directions so they line up together nicely.
  • Cover tightly and let them cool, and then place in the fridge.
  • When you need to heat them up, all one has to do is put them on a low grill, add a little spice, and slowly turn until they brown evenly.  Usually a couple of minutes each side works.
  • Keep the flame/heat lower or they can dry out. Slather with BBQ sauce of your choice if you so desire. I make both so people can choose how healthy they want to eat.

There are lots of poultry spices on the market. Use the offseason to experiment. I recommend the blends just for yard bird rather than a generic garlic salt or season salt alone. Get creative, that’s a part of the fun. Talk to others at their tailgate.

I have yet to meet a tailgate neighbor that didn’t have something to share, and feel free to share your recipes and tips with me in the comment section below. There are never too many cooks in a tailgate.

*Lagniappe* (which is LSU talk for “a little somethin’ extra”): if you take the skin off the legs to slather with sauce, it doesn’t take long until they’re done, plus the sauce really never cooks onto the chicken so less is more in my book.

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