Tailgating is all about friends, family, good music, good company and of course good food and drink. Most tailgaters break out the standard hot dogs and hamburgers because they are easy and have wide appeal. After all, who doesn’t eat hamburgers and hot dogs? If you are one of those tailgaters, not that there is anything wrong with burger and dogs, but if you are, you may need a little help to spice things up a bit.
Paul Swaney is the primary author of Stadium Journey and he has joined forces with chefs from around the country and have compiled 96 recipes – an appetizer, entree and cocktail, inspired by every NFL team and their respective home region.
Upon receiving a sample copy of the Pro Football Cookbook, I figured it would be filled with run of the mill recipes stolen off of the internet that are the stereotypical tailgating foods you would expect to see in the local parking lots. You’ve seen them before; Philly Cheese Steaks for the Philadelphia Eagles. Clam Chowder recipe for the New England Patriots. Even the cliche shrimp gumbo for the New Orleans Saints. But just like a good offensive coordinator in the NFL, the Pro Football Cookbook calls an audible every now and then and mixes it up for a surprise play that results in a touchdown.
(Disclaimer: We did receive a complimentary copy of the Pro Football Cookbook. The fact this sample copy was provided to us free of charge in no way influenced our opinion of the book nor did it impact our ability to review it fairly and objectively.)
As you might expect, some of the classic recipes reflecting the culture and tradition of a number of NFL franchises are included in this book. Classics like the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich (page 89) for the Kansas City Chiefs is a can’t miss. Paying homage to the Baltimore Ravens, the recipe for Maryland Crab Cakes can be found on page 21 because, if we learned anything from the movie Wedding Crashers, Crab Cakes and Football – That’s what Maryland does.
In addition to those recipes you would come to expect to represent a certain team or region of the country, to use a baseball term, you get thrown a curve ball every now and then. The entree recipe for Indianapolis is the Turducken Cordon Blue Burger. (page 77) You have to try the 49 Clove Garlic Chicken recipe (page 139) which not only pays homage to the San Francisco 49ers but pays respects to the Bay Area’s close proximity to Gilroy, Calif. which hosts the largest Garlic Festival.
I’ve only highlighted a few of the entrees but there are a total of 32 of those, 32 side dishes that accompany the entree and a cocktail that is either indigenous to the team’s region or uses a local ingredient that region is famous for. A classic example would be the Shiner Margarita (page 55) which uses Shiner Bock beer for the Dallas Cowboys drink recipe suggestion. Another would be Fried Pickles with Remoulade Sauce (page 107) for the side dish for the New Orleans Saints. (Fried Pickles are a New Orleans staple and no trip is complete without scarfing a dozen of these little babies.)
In all, food writers from 12 different states contributed to create this unique NFL themed cookbook. Other contributors to the cookbook include:
- Baron Von Gottsacker, CEO and “Flavor Junkie” of Bent Spoon Gelato in Sheboygan, Wisconsin
- Christopher Crump, Owner/Operator of Nomad Catering in Phoenix, Arizona
- Joshua Guiher, Owner/Operator of the Frasier Street Deli in State College, Pennsylvania
- John Dawson, Food Blogger for Patio Daddio BBQ in Boise, Idaho
Of course I was not able to cook and grill all 64 entrees and side dishes. I surely was not able to make and drink all 32 pro football inspired cocktails. But I know a good recipe when I see one and I will definitely be making some of these for the remainder of the football season and into the playoffs.
For tailgaters stuck in a rut, this cookbook would be great for some new recipe ideas to make everyone in the parking lot stand up and take notice. The Pro Football Cookbook is a fantastic road map for tailgaters to have a built-in menu to reference for a meal theme based on that weekend’s opponent. Your team is playing the Washington Redskins? Make Hogs Sandwiches, Roasted Redskin Potatoes with Mustard and a Red Gin Rickey (pages 160 – 163) to wash it all down. When it comes time for your Super Bowl party, find the section of the two different teams playing and make those recipes for your guests and people will think you are a world traveling genius.
After looking over all 96 entrees, sides and drink recipes included in the Pro Football Cookbook, we are going to give it the Tailgating Ideas “Tailgate Approved” stamp of approval. Some recipes may be better prepared at home on a griddle or in your oven but true tailgaters know that a few gadgets like the Sizzle-Q and the Tailgate HotBag can make all the difference.