charcuterie platter

Easy and sophisticated: pair some nice cuts of charcuterie such as cappicola and prosciutto with various cheeses and fruit…

Gourmet Tailgating Tips and Recipes Including Charcuterie Platters, Paninis on the Grill and Breakfast Burrito Bars

For some, tailgating is a religion. And for many, you can’t have a tailgate without certain foods like chips and salsa or a dip. But there is more to tailgating than your standard “push the easy button” hummus and chips. And there are quite a few things you can do without a ton of effort too. Here are some of my favorite ways to up the ante when tailgating at the game or in your living room. These tips and recipes are equally great for your next happy hour or cookout.

Charcuterie, Cheese, Fruit and Nuts = Winning Combination

Go to the specialty meat cheese section of your supermarket and choose some prosciutto, capicolla, salami, some nice blue cheese and a good block of aged cheese like parmesan, asiago or grana padano. Grab some pears and grapes. Take your nicest wood cutting board and chop the meats into cracker sized pieces and arrange artfully on your cutting board. If you don’t have a nice wooden cutting board, use a nice platter. Chop the cheese into pieces and arrange and then add sliced pears near the blue cheese so your guests can pair blue cheese and pear on a cracker. I also like to add goat cheese, sliced baguettes, balsamic glaze or preserves so people can get creative with their bread/fruit/cheese/jam pairing. Other nice touches are nuts and olives! Get creative! What is great about this is that everything can be bought and assembled at the tailgate! Remember to put out some cute cocktail napkins and a butter knife so people can serve themselves more cheese.

Hot off the (Grill) Press!!

Hot off the (Grill) Press!!

Paninis On the Grill
One of the easiest ways to serve a crowd is to turn your grill into a Panini press! Take a brick and cover it in foil and now you are ready to make paninis on the grill for your guests! I’ve done this in a myriad of different ways- from Cuban Sandwiches to grilled vegetable baquettes to Italian Sausage Hoagies! The only limit is your imagination! The basic formula for Panini greatness is Bread + fillings + cheese + time on the grill. Make sure to create direct/indirect zones on your grill and bake the sandwiches on the indirect side until char marks form and you’ve achieved grill marks on the bread. Here are some of my favorites:

Cuban Sandwiches on the Grill

French Dip Sandwiches

Mediterranean Sandwiches

Assemble a fun smores bar for a fun dessert to make after a cookout. Grill-side marshmallow roasting is a fun after dinner activity with friends!

Assemble a fun smores bar for a fun dessert to make after a cookout. Grill-side marshmallow roasting is a fun after dinner activity with friends!

Build a (insert your favorite food here) Bar:

What’s better than letting guests make their own masterpiece at the tailgate? That’s why I’m a BIG fan of creating “bars” where you lay out the fixings or ingredients and let people go to town with their own creations. I’ve done gourmet hot dog bars where I set out all the toppings to make different styles of hotdogs (the Italian dog, the Jersey Dog, the Chicago Dog- you get the picture), Grilled Cheese Bars, Fajita Bars, Breakfast Burrito Bars, Bloody Mary Bars, Waffle Bars, Smores Bars. The fun part is that many of these, such as the Smores bar, is that it’s an interactive part of the tailgate around the grill. Smores bars are especially fun because everyone LOVES roasting marshmallows and you can get creative with the toppings!

Here are some ideas:

Grilled cheese bar:
The Italian: Italian bread, prosciutto, basil, pesto, provolone, mozzarella
The Cowboy: Texas Toast, Cheddar, Brisket, BBQ Sauce
The Californian: Whole Grain, avocado, bacon, swiss.