Tailgating Ideas

Don't Just Tailgate, Tailgate Better

Find your team bar showing your game with other fans like you

Johnsonville Sizzling Sausage Grill

Posted by Brandon On June - 16 - 2016

Ever since the birth of my children I find that time that I can use for recreational outdoor activities has become to put it gently, limited.  And even though the resolution is for them to just get a little older, waiting is the hardest part.  In the meantime I’m always searching for those ways to get me a little taste of the things I used to do in those pre-daddy days.  Well as luck would have it, a couple weeks ago I was contacted about a new product from Johnsonville, their Sizzling Sausage Grill.  Anytime someone is willing to send me a sample, especially our friends at Johnsonville, to get my thoughts I am happy to oblige.  

logo-stacked-b356a40b199c1f36f351f44f36254c4c76ae9a48734bb87ce8306dec219ae0cd

I think the first thing worth mentioning is that the fact that this is an electrical appliance is a significant departure from Johnsonville’s food only approach before. In all honesty I was admittedly a little skeptical about the item since it appears to be only useful for sausage cooking.  The other thing is that most people have some experience with the electric grill concept, probably with something sold under a famous boxer’s name.  I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with the idea, but I can’t really tell you the last time I saw one in use.

So for starters the Sizzling Sausage Grill is a counter-top electric grill which has metal inserts with grooves in the shape of the typical Johnsonville sausage link i.e. a tube with that slight curvature.  In the top plate there is a hole through which a temperature probe is allowed to puncture a sausage and sense when to stop the cooking process.  Each of the cooking plates is removable and are dishwasher safe.  On the exterior of the product there is a removable drip tray and the outer surface is a mixture of black plastic and a brushed metal.   It has a solid feel and slight heft which seems appropriate for its appearance.

Using the grill is pretty simple, you place your desired sausage onto the bottom plate, matching the shape with the groove.  You can do 1-5 sausages at a time, the only caveat is that one sausage must be placed into the middle groove so that the temperature probe can detect the internal temp.  Otherwise you’re free to place any extra sausages in whichever spot you’d like.  From there you close the lid until it latches and press the button.  The claim is that the grill will cook the sausages in 10-15 minutes.  Here is a video describing the process along with graphics showing it:

My test was pretty straightforward, cook a pack of brats and see what happened.  Less than 12 minutes later I had 5 nearly perfected cooked brats hot and ready for dinner.  I say nearly perfectly because a couple didn’t have complete browning, which is a minor criticism.  The vast majority of the surface was a lovely even shade of brown and other than the sausage that received the probe none appeared to be punctured/cracked.  And that cook time?  I don’t think I’ve ever turned out brats that fast except when dealing with the pre-cooked varieties.  Truthfully I was very pleased with how they turned out.  

Indoor sausage cooking usually involves a lot of cleanup, that was not a problem with this.  The plates are easily removed, and even though they are dishwasher safe, a quick wash with a soapy sponge took care of them.

Does that mean that I would recommend this to everyone?  Not really.  It’s not very often that I test a product that delivers on it’s claims that I still have reservations.  When we talk about a product in terms of tailgating there are plenty of variables that need to be factored in.  

Firstly this is an electrical appliance, if you don’t have electricity available to you at your tailgate then you’re out of luck.  Also consider that you can do 5 sausages at a time, if you need to crank out more than 5 every 10-15 minutes you need additional resources. Finally it really only cooks the fresh uncooked sausages, that can mean a wide variety of flavors, but it definitely doesn’t mean a burger or chicken wings. 

One place where I can see a product like this being useful for a tailgater is after the event when you want something to eat while you wait for traffic to clear up or to celebrate your team’s win.  Firing up a more traditional grill is can take time, and cool down usually isn’t instantaneous.  This can mitigate a lot of that.

Also for a lot of people they can’t make it to every game and do a fair amount of “homegating.”  In my situation with the kids the ability to go to the kitchen turn on the grill and then walk away for a bit and come back to cooked food is really appealing.  

I do like this product, and where I think it will be of great use will be in prepping sausage when it isn’t necessarily the main course say for pizza or more typical sandwiches.  

The price seems high, but if you’re considering this product you likely don’t take your sausage consumption lightly.  Currently the product site has the Sizzling Sausage Grill listed at $99.98 + $14.95 S&H which can be broken down into 2 payments.  There is a 2 year limited warranty on the product, and right now they include coupons for 4 packs of sausage with every purchase potentially a $28 value.  

My final take?  Tailgating approved with reservations for the reasons I listed above, but worth it if you’re serious about Johnsonville sausage.  For more info see https://www.sizzlingsausagegrill.com/

 

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. 

IMG_20151018_142121434

Red Beans and Rice with Spicy Johnsonville Sausage

Serves: Serves 4-6


Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

IMG_20151018_140945427

Johnsonville Polish Sausage and Potato Hobo Pack

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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!

Johnsonville Old Country Bloody

Posted by Brandon On September - 2 - 2015

Good evening Tailgaters! Our friends at Johnsonville passed along some recipes for varying types of bloody mary cocktails. While I personally don’t drink them I’m confident that plenty of you are no stranger to one on a Sunday morning, plus they just look cool. Not to mention they’re all based on a region, we’ve had Wisconsin and New Orleans, so it might be fun to pick and choose based on the teams that are playing.   Not sure I can pin this one to a a specific region, but if the area has a strong Polish connection, say like one of my favorite places Buffalo, it might be a good one.  So without further adieu I give you the Old Country Bloody:Johnsonville Logo Small

Old Country Bloodyoldcountrybloody

Courtesy of Johnsonville

Servings: 4 cocktails

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 minutes

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup vodka
  • 1 ½ cups bloody mary mix or tomato juice
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 dash of pepper
  • 1 dash of celery salt
  • 1 JOHNSONVILLE® Polish Sausage, grilled
  • 4 skewers
  • 4 sliced artichoke hearts
  • 4 cubes of parmesan cheese
  • 8 olives
  • 4 lemon wedges

Directions

  1. In a pitcher, mix vodka, bloody mary mix or tomato juice, horseradish sauce, hot sauce, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper
  2. Pour into 4 glasses with ice
  3. Cut sausage into quarters lengthwise
  4. For the garnish, assemble each of the four skewers with the sausage, artichoke heart, cube of parmesan cheese and olives to lay on top of the glass with a lemon wedge.

Johnsonville NOLA Bloody

Posted by Brandon On September - 1 - 2015

Good evening Tailgaters!  Our friends at Johnsonville passed along some recipes for varying types of bloody mary cocktails.  While I personally don’t drink them I’m confident that plenty of you are no stranger to one on a Sunday morning, plus they just look cool.  Not to mention they’re all based on a region, yesterday was Wisconsin, so it might be fun to pick and choose based on the teams that are playing.  So without further adieu I give you the NOLA Bloody:

Johnsonville Logo Small

NOLA Bloody

Courtesy of Johnsonville

Servings: 4 cocktailsnolabloody

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 minutes

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup vodka
  • 1 ½ cups bloody mary mix or tomato juice
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Louisiana spice mix
  • 4 JOHNSONVILLE® New Orleans Smoked or Andouille Sausages, grilled
  • 4 skewers
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 4 gimlet olives
  • 4 pickled okras
  • 1 sliced red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon of celery bitters or celery salt

Directions

  1. In a pitcher, mix vodka, bloody mary mix or tomato juice, hot sauce, lemon juice and spice mix.
  2. Pour into 4 glasses with ice and celery salt rim.
  3. Cut sausage into thirds
  4. For the garnish, assemble each of the four skewers with the sausage, sliced red pepper, gimlet olives and pickled okra, place into cocktail with celery stalk.

Wisconsin Brat-y Mary

Posted by Brandon On August - 31 - 2015

Good evening Tailgaters!  Our friends at Johnsonville passed along some recipes for varying types of bloody mary cocktails.  While I personally don’t drink them I’m confident that plenty of you are no stranger to one on a Sunday morning, plus they just look cool.  Not to mention they’re all based on a region so it might be fun to pick and choose based on the teams that are playing.  So without further adieu I give you the Wisconsin Brat-y Mary:

Johnsonville Logo Small

Wisconsin Brat-y Mary

Courtesy of Johnsonville

Servings: 4 cocktails  bratymary

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 minutes

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup vodka
  • 1 ½ cups bloody mary mix or tomato juice
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 dashes pepper
  • 1 JOHNSONVILLE® Brat, grilled
  • 1 brat bun
  • 4 skewers
  • 4 cheddar cheese cubes
  • 2 dill pickle spears, cut in half

Directions

  1. In a pitcher, mix vodka, bloody mary mix or tomato juice, horseradish sauce, hot sauce, lime juice and pepper.
  2. Pour into 4 glasses with ice.
  3. Assemble grilled brat into bun and cut into quarters.
  4. For the garnish, assemble each of the four skewers with ¼ of the brat with bun, one cheese cube and half dill pickle on a skewer, place into cocktail.

Sponsors

VIDEO

TAG CLOUD

NCAA & NFL Gear

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.

To learn more about TailgatingIdeas.com and our team of writers, reviewers, cartoonists and contributors, please visit the About Us page.