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Outdoor “Pre” Cooking with Johnsonville

Posted by Brandon On October - 20 - 2015

When I first started accumulating my tailgating provisions, I found the second best place in the store, the first being the beer aisle, for me was the camping section.  Why the camping section you ask?  Well that’s where all the gear for living outdoors is at.  After all, are tailgating and camping really all that different?  Both are outdoor activities, both typically involve being away from the comforts of home, and both usually involve indulging on plenty of food and drink.   Some NASCAR events have “camping” prior to the race which is nothing more than tailgating overnight.  If you ask me they are cut from the same cloth. So why do I draw this comparison between tailgating and camping?  Well as you might have guessed by the Johnsonville logo featured prominently in the post it has something to do with sausage.  Specifically pre-cooked sausage.   Johnsonville Logo Big

Good food safety practices involve lots of things.  Proper refrigeration, cooking food to safe temps, and avoiding cross contamination with raw meat juices are all things that pretty much anyone who has ever learned anything about cooking knows.  Coolers are the obvious solution to the refrigeration conundrum.  A good quality cooler with plenty of ice is a no brainer.  Cooking food to safe temps is also easy to avoid most of the time, especially if you have a good quality instant read thermometer with you.  That is something I recommend  for everyone cooking raw meat, its the best way to stay safe, and to not grossly overcook your food.

The problem that isn’t so easy to pin down is cross contamination, especially in the remote settings that tailgaters and campers alike share.  Sure some people have full sinks and all that in their RV, but for many of us we’re faced with the makings of a bacterial breeding ground.   I have cooked plenty of raw meat at tailgates, it can be done without a doubt, but you know I wonder how many times I touched raw meat and then spread any potential germs to other things.  I haven’t gotten sick, but I may have just gotten lucky so far.  This is where the pre-cooked sausage comes in.  By removing those raw meat juices we greatly reduce the chance of foodborn illness.  That way you can worry about staying away from the hangover and not if you’re going to wind up with food poisoning.

We’ve talked about some of Johnsonville’s pre-cooked offerings before, and we’ve never been let down by any of them.   Now while with one notable and extremely tasty exception, we’ve basically treated all of these products as a sausage in a bun type of thing, part of this article is show that these are versatile products that can work in other applications.

Disclosure: Johnsonville gave us coupons and a gift card to try these products and do some recipe development.

IMG_20151018_132434226 (1)So how can you use these pre-cooked offerings at your next away from home trip?  The first is obvious, use them just as you would any other brat or sausage from Johnsonville.  Grill it, put it in a bun, top it, and scarf.   If you are a brat fanatic, you might focus your attention on the Stadium Style Brats.  They deliver a near identical flavor profile to the standard Johnsonville Brat, and since they’re slightly smaller and more uniform you can fit many more on your grill.  Another upside is that you get 6 in a pack compared to 5 come in the normal pack, which means you can get more pieces in the cooler.   Not to mention they are usually less expensive!  I have a small Weber Smokey Joe Gold in this photo and you can see it holds plenty of sausages for a crowd.  Plus since we’re dealing with pre-cooked we can heat through to at least 140 degrees and serve.  There is no need to get to 160.  In fact the recommended cooking time is basically half of the uncooked brats.  If you often have trouble keeping up with demand these are the answer.

The next is a great dish for tailgaters and campers alike.  The idea of this dish is a staple in many cultures. Rice and Beans.  We decided to utilize the Andouille Split Rope Links to make a Louisiana-esque Red Beans and Rice. Upside to this dish is using only one pot.   Why one pot?  Fewer dishes to clean, and all the flavor stays in one place, no worrying about it being split over multiple vessels.  Using instant rice and canned beans we can knock this out in 30 minutes.  While cook time is always a concern, running a cooker/grill/stove for long periods of time with limited amounts of fuel is something that should be considered whether in the woods or parking lot.  Pot selection isn’t supremely important here, but I am a big fan of cast iron dutch ovens.  They are super versatile and can take a fair amount of abuse.  You can double the recipe if you have a pot of sufficient size, at least 6 qts. 


Red Beans and Rice with Spicy Johnsonville Sausage

Serves: Serves 4-6


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 package Johnsonville Andouille Split Rope (2 links) or New Orleans Spicy Smoked Links (6 links), sliced into ¼ inch pieces
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 16oz cans red beans or kidney beans, drained
  • 2 cups of instant rice (Minute Rice)
  • Creole Seasoning


  1. Add the vegetable oil to a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add sausage and cook until browned on one side. 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add onion, green pepper, and celery, cook until onions translucent, 6-8 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, and sprinkle with seasoning blend.  
  4. Add the broth and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the beans and rice. Turn off heat and cover.
  5. Before serving taste and add more seasoning as necessary.

Another great option is something called a Hobo Pack.  Now many of you who were in scouting are probably familiar with this concept.  The idea is that you wrap things you want to cook in foil and then place it on the fire, coals, grill, etc.   The upside is that after heating let them cool off a bit and you can eat directly from the packet so no plates!  You can use this method for just about anything you want, but I think the Polish Kielbasa Split Rope with potato and onion hits the spot quite nicely.   Also what we’re doing to save some time is pre-cooking the potato since they really have to be cooked thoroughly to be appetizing.  You can leave the potato uncooked if you’d prefer, but keep in mind that will increase cooking time substantially.


Johnsonville Polish Sausage and Potato Hobo Pack

Serves 6


  • 1 package (2 links) Johnsonville Polish Kielbasa Split Rope, sliced into ¼” slices
  • 2 lbs red potatoes cleaned
  • 1 each sweet red and yellow peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ garlic powder


  1. Quarter potatoes by slicing in half, and then each half in half again.  Smaller potatoes may only need to be sliced in half.  Place pieces in bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap
  2. Microwave potatoes for 5- 8 minutes until potatoes are mostly cooked.  Shake halfway throughout.  After cooking carefully remove plastic wrap and drain.
  3. Toss all ingredients in bowl.
  4. Divide the kielbasa, potatoes, peppers and onion among six double thicknesses of heavy-duty foil (about 18 in. x 12 in.).   Seal edges of foil tightly to form packet.  Refrigerate until ready to cook.
  5. Place “hobo pack” on grill, over direct heat for 10-15 minutes, turning several times throughout,  until packets are sizzling.  Let cool for a minute or so before serving.  Be careful when opening packet.

It is worth mentioning that the Split Rope sausages come packaged with 2 links, but each link is in it’s own pack.  So if you only wanted to use one you can just open that, the other remains sealed in it’s own packaging.   Also worth noting, is that many other packages of smoked/cooked links come in resealable zipper packaging.  So if you are out and about and only use a couple out of a package you can seal them back up and use them at a later time without worrying about them becoming water logged from sitting in the cooler.  Those are little things, but no one likes to waste food, and ultimately money if they don’t have to.

To summarize, whether it’s tailgating, camping, or cooking outdoors for any other reason give the pre-cooked line a look for several reasons.  Faster “cooking” time due to the need to heat not cook, no raw meat to cross contaminate, and a wide range of flavors and styles for versatility.

To learn more about where you can find Johnsonville’s extensive pre-cooked product line you can visit their product locator link.  The product line is so expansive that I can’t imagine any one store will carry them all, in fact for this article I had to journey to a couple stores.  While you’re there you can see all the offerings, and take a peek at Johnsonville’s very large recipe database.  Oh and why not enter their camping contest?  Could win some cool prizes!

Recipe: Warm Crack Dip

Posted by Dave On October - 16 - 2015
Warm Crack Dip

Photo courtesy of Plain Chicken

Five ingredients, one bowl and a big wooden spoon. That’s what you’ll need for this tailgating dip that will bring everyone to your tailgating space.


8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 (1 oz) package Ranch dressing mix
1 (3 oz) crumbled bacon
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
16 oz sour cream


Preheat oven to 400.

In a bowl, combine all ingredients; mix well. Transfer to 2-quart baking dish; cover.

Bake dip 25 to 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

If taking this dip tailgating, we suggest transporting it in a Tailgate HotBag to ensure it arrives just as hot in the parking lot as it did coming out of your oven.

(We modified this recipe found on Plain Chicken to substitute bacon bits for crumbled bacon. Because you know how we here love us some bacon.)

Stubb’s Recipe Contest Finalists

Posted by Dave On October - 5 - 2015

Stubb's Logo
For the past few weeks, we have been running our Stubb’s Tailgating Recipe Contest where readers submit their best recipes using Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q rubs, marinades and sauces. We have had a number of great entries and these are the finalist who are vying for the top three prizes.

At the end is a poll where you can vote for your favorite recipe which you think is the best and deserves the top prize. You may vote once per day. The recipe receiving the most votes by 11:59 pm pacific time, October 12, 2015 will win the grand prize. Recipe receiving the second most votes will win second prize and the recipe receiving the third largest amount of votes will win third prize.

We encourage you to share this post with friends on Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest or any other social media channels. Best of luck to those who are in the running. And to refresh your memory, here is the list of recipes eligible listed in the order they were submitted and published to TailgatingIdeas.com.

Which recipe is the best using Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q rub, sauce or marinade?

Stubb’s Game Day Sausage Kebabs (Submitted by: Shauna H.)
Hoosier BBQ Ham on Cornbread Biscuits With Country Relish (Submitted by Lori M.)
The Sticky Asian Pig with Sesame Slaw Sandwich (Submitted by Lori M.)
Tailgating Thai Hot Boy (Submitted by Juliana P.)
Mexi-Mini Meatballs (Submitted by Thomas D.)
Stubby Tacos (Submitted by: Sabrina O.)
Beefy Bacon Boss Burger (Submitted by: Sherri W.)


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Stubb’s Recipe Contest: Beefy Bacon Boss Burger

Posted by Dave On October - 2 - 2015

Beefy Bacon Boss Burger
Beefy Bacon Boss Burger

Submitted by: Sherri W.

Vegetable oil (For brushing on the grill rack)
5 slices thick cut pepper bacon, grilled
2 pounds ground chuck
2 tablespoons Stubb’s Bar-B-Q Rub
1 teaspoon cumin
6 thick slices aged cheddar jack white cheese
12 little beef smokie sausages
2 tablespoons butter, softened
6 Brioche hamburger Buns split
8 Boston lettuce leaves
2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced

Special Spicy Sauce:
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup Stubbs Green Chile Anytime Sauce
2 tablespoons jarred candied jalapeño peppers, chopped

Fried Veggies:
1 quart vegetable oil for frying
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 shallots, sliced thin
½ cup gourmet pepper rings
½ teaspoon salt, divided
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat grill to medium high heat. Brush grill rack with oil. Turn heat down to medium heat. Lay slices of bacon on grill; cook for 2-3 minutes. Turn heat down to low and flip bacon slices. Cook for another 1-2 minutes or until bacon is done. Set aside, cool and chop.

2. Form the mixture into 4 equal patties. Mix BBQ rub and cumin together. Season both sides of burgers with BBQ rub mixture.

3. Combine special sauce ingredients in a mixing bowl, set aside until ready to use.

4. Place patties on hot grill. Grill for 3-4 minutes, flip and cook other side for 2 ½ minutes or until preferred doneness. Add cheese slices the last 30 seconds of grilling time.

5. Grill beef sausages for 2 minutes or until golden brown.

6. Meanwhile combine flour, salt and black pepper in a zip lock bag. Add shallots and pepper rings to bag; shake. Make sure shallots and pepper rings are evenly coated.

7. Heat a skillet to medium high heat on grill side burner. Add oil. Fry shallots and peppers for a 1-2 minutes or crispy and golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.

8. Spread softened butter on Kaiser rolls, grill for 30-45 seconds or until golden brown.

9. Build the burger: Spread special sauce on bottoms of rolls followed by lettuce, tomato, burger, beef sausages, more special sauce, fried shallots, pepper rings and top of bun. Enjoy!

Stubb’s Recipe Contest: Stubby Tacos

Posted by Dave On October - 2 - 2015

Stubby Tacos

Submitted by: Sabrina O.


  • 3lb Pork Roast
  • 1 12-oz. bottle Stubb’s Pork Marinade
  • 12 tortillas
  • shredded lettuce
  • roma tomatoes, diced
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • sour cream
  • 3 avocados, sliced

Place pork roast in crock pot. Pour marinade over roast. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove pork and shred on cutting board with two forks. Return pork to crock pot and stir into marinade. Fill tortillas with marinated pork, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and a slice or two of avocado. DELISH!!!





About Me

TailgatingIdeas.com is a tailgating blog dedicated to bringing you the latest and most intriguing tailgating ideas out there. Whether it is the latest tailgating gear reviews, a great new recipe or a funny list to make you smile, our goal is to inform and entertain the avid and the casual tailgater alike.

Started in August 2007 by tailgating enthusiast Dave Lamm, TailgatingIdeas.com has evolved into an advocate for tailgaters rights and is not afraid to touch on controversial issues confronting those who frequent the tailgating parking lots.

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