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The Oostburger

Posted by Brandon On September - 21 - 2014

You might have seen that they other day was National Cheeseburger day.  Being the carnivorous creature that I am, I made sure to grab one to celebrate.   Which I was chomping away I couldn’t help but think back to another cheeseburger I had a while back.  You see every year the good people of Sheboygan, WI throw a festival to celebrate their state’s official food, the Bratwurst.   Well our friends at Johnsonville invited my wife and I to check out the festival last year and engage in the brat love.  Needless to say we had an absolute blast seeing just how much they embrace the brat and all the cool ways they’re using them in different types of cuisine.  For example we saw brat pizza, chimichangas, tacos, gyros, etc.  For the purists you could also enjoy a single or double brat on a local Sheboygan Hard Roll.  We also took in some of the local lingo such as a brat fry, or fry out, which seems to be the preferred local lingo for a cookout or bbq.  Heck, we even saw a guy eat 20 brats in 10 minutes.  If you have the chance to go next August I highly recommend it.   Side note: I don’t advocate eating 20 brats that quickly, you probably should stop at 10.

johnsonville1

Getting back to the cheeseburger theme, among the foods that we had a chance to try was the Oostburger.  I can only imagine the name for this particular creation is based on the neighboring town of Oostburg.   As I observed at Brat Days the Oostburger is basically not much more than a cheeseburger with a brat on top of it.  Sounds kind of strange, but it really adds a neat dimension to the burger, and it’s such a simple concept. The variation in texture, and the richness of the sausage work together to impart a new burger experience.  I liked it so much that I thought I would try and recreate it, as hard as putting a cylindrical brat on a flat burger is, to share with those outside of us outside Cheese Head territory.Oostburgerwhole

To make your own it’s important to start by finding yourself a nice bun to put this on.  Since I’m unable to find the hard roll that they use in the Sheboygan area, I’m going to use a Kaiser because it’s about the closest thing I can find here in NC.  A typical hamburger bun is probably going to be a little wimpy for what we’re trying to accomplish.   What you want is a bun with a nice crusty outside, but is still plenty soft on the inside.

When you’re at the grill you’ve got to consider that the brat and the burger are in all likelihood not going to be done at the same time.  So what can you do about it? Well you can time things out so they’ll finish about the same time, or even cook one part and then keep it warm while the other finishes. Personally, I like the idea of using a “brat hot tub” which I initially wrote about in my “Brat Test” article.  Basically the brat hot tub is not much more than a warm mixture of beer some butter, onion, and garlic, in a pan.  Cook up your brats and then toss em in to keep em warm and juicy. If you’ve got the real estate on the grill for this technique I would highly recommend it.  I suppose you could use a bratwurst patty for these sort of copying the whole double burger thing, but I think using the link in the casing is more fun.

Since the star of this burger is most definitely the brat you don’t need to go super gourmet and get some Wagyu patties for this, but you don’t want to bring it down by getting the super cheap mystery meat frozen patties either.  I like a fresh 80/20 ground chuck for my “everyday” burgers.  This fat content should ideally keep the meat juicy enough, and lend just the right amount of beef flavor.  However with beef prices being what they are today feel free to use whatever you like, just try to stay away from the super lean stuff unless you need to.IMG_20130920_190235

What I did was to grill my brats to almost done and then move them away from the direct heat, since I was doing these on a smaller grill I had to skip the hot tub.  I threw on my burger patties and then cooked them to my desired doneness.  Once the burgers were just about there I added 2 slices of Wisconsin sharp cheddar to each pattie. When the cheese was melted I pulled all the meat to let it rest for a few.  While the protein was resting I toasted the buns a little.  I think it works well to split the brat, if for no other reason than ease of eating, before placing on the burger but you don’t have to.  Top with a little brown mustard and sliced onion and you’ve got yourself an Oostburger.   Of course you could add whatever you like to yours, but simpler is better.

Here is a more specific recipe:

Ingredients:
1 pound of ground chuck
1 pack good quality Bratwurst (We like Johnsonville obviously)
5 Kaiser Rolls (Or you could use Sheboygan Hard Rolls if you have a source)
10 slices Sharp Wisconsin Cheddar
Salt and Pepper to taste.

1.) Set up a grill for direct heat, and preheat a grill to Medium.IMG_20130920_191215
2.) Form 5 patties from the ground chuck, trying to get the diameter as close to the buns as possible.  They’ll be thin, but that’s what we want. Season with salt and pepper.  I only ended up with 4 because I’m a bone head, but aim for 5 if you can.  It’ll make for a better 1:1 with your brats.
3.) Slice rolls completely in half so you have a top and bottom.
4.) Grill meats until done.  ~15-20 minutes for brats, ~10 for burgers.  When the burger patties are nearly done top with 2 slices cheese.
5.) When meat is cooked pull off heat, and toast buns on grill.  This will go quick, no more than  30 seconds should do.  Remember you can always toast more, but once you’ve gotten to burnt you’re screwed.
6.) Slice brats lengthwise.
7.) Place burger pattie on bun, top with sliced brat.
8.) Add desired condiments
9.) Enjoy

 

 

Product Review – nyne BASS

Posted by Brandon On June - 24 - 2014

Every good tailgate has a few things in common.  You’ve usually got tasty food, fun games, and plenty of great people.  You might also have some good music just to bring everything together.  In the past you might have dragged out the old boombox or even just turned up the radio in the car as I’ve done.  However, the old methods may not be useful anymore.  Let’s face it, depending on where you’re going to be tailgating the radio options can potentially be downright awful.  How many times do you need to hear the latest top 40 song before it gets old?  So to combat this many of us carry our music collections around on mp3 players, or our smart phones.  The problem with this is how can we play our music for a group of people without needing to leave one of these devices physically attached?  The answer is a wireless connection, and probably the most common one these days is Bluetooth.  This is how the nyne BASS speaker system works.nynelogo

Disclaimer:  We received a sample of the nyne BASS free of charge for testing.  This in no way affected our ability to review the product fairly and objectively.

The nyne BASS is a portable audio solution that incorporates quality acoustic performance into a truly portable device.  When the product arrived for testing the first thing I noticed was the weight of the box.  It was heavier than I had expected it to be, which I felt to be a good thing.  Once I opened the box I was pleased to find a very sleek and attractive device.  Since I wanted to test this in the way most like tailgating I decided to charge the device overnight so that I could test the manufacturer claim of a 10 hour run time.NYNE-BASS

The following day I powered on the device and paired it with my phone.  This process was pretty straightforward and I had little problem making the connection.  Then I decided to listen to a broad variety of music so test out the audio performance.  What I experienced was a sound that far exceeded my expectations for this sort of peripheral.  With a name like “BASS” you would expect decent low end sound, and that sound was delivered quite well.  Not only did the lower frequencies come through well, the middle and high ranges were also well represented for a pleasantly balanced overall delivery.  I had some doubts about the quality I could expect from being on a wireless connection, but those were unsubstantiated and completely erased once I was able to listen to things from techno all the way through contemporary jazz.   Furthermore when I consulted others for their opinions they were impressed by the sound performance as well.  As for the claim of 10 hours of playback, while I did not sit by with a stopwatch, I made it through a day at the office and a couple more hours at home and it didn’t die one me.  That, to me, was a passing mark.

The volume on the device can be controlled in two ways.  First you can raise or lower the volume via the buttons on top of the device.  Those buttons, like all of the controls, are large and have raised emblems to distinguish which does what.  The other way is to use the transmitting devices volume control.  Each of these would be important for using this at a tailgate, as you’ll likely want to control the volume from whichever piece is closest to you.   One obvious question is does this thing get loud.  Yes it can get loud.  Does it distort when it gets loud?  That I cannot answer definitely.  I took the BASS as loud as I could tolerate and as loud as I feel would be prudent at a tailgate party and I experienced no distortion.  This was a very positive feature in my eyes.  The 20 watts of power were more than enough to deliver the level of sound needed from this size apparatus.

bluetoothOther positive features include the ability to use a cable (included) to connect your music device directly to the BASS.  However I would reserve this for non Bluetooth equipped devices because the performance is that good.  The charger has interchangeable plugs for various outlets that you might encounter around the world.  Speaking of chargers the nyne BASS has a USB port on the back which can be used to charge your device, if that is how it charges.  The only thing I would note is that it will draw from the battery so if your phone has a large battery capacity you’ll likely cut your playback time significantly.  However the ability to charge the device is very handy.   There is also a convenient carry handle which makes for easy moving if the need should arise.

The last feature to cover on the BASS is the microphone which allows you to use it as a Bluetooth speakerphone.  Of all the features this one is probably the one that you’d be least likely to use in a tailgating setting.  However we did want to give it a fair shake.  Initial tests did not go so well.  These were done across the room speaking in an elevated voice, but not so much as to call it yelling.  However once I moved closer to the device and spoke directly into it the quality improved.  I would think that any ambient noise in the area would only work against you as it pertains to this feature, however if you use the BASS on your desk when you’re not tailgating it could be useful.  It may take some getting used to, but the learning curve should be minimal.

All in all the BASS delivered on everything that it said it would.  I especially liked the rich sounds that was produced, and that it covered a wide spectrum of music very well.  Furthermore the ability to control things remotely via Bluetooth is very much a win win.  As such I am declaring the nyne BASS as “Tailgate Approved” for it’s functionality and its usefulness for being on the go.  The only negatives I could find were the white finish was easy to get dirty, however it was also easily cleaned, and the microphone took a little getting used to.  Those, I believe, are minor and shouldn’t influence purchasing decisions by themselves.

The nyne BASS is available in white and gray (tested) or in black and silver and sells for around $150 online.  You can check out all the specs, see their other products, and get more info on nyne’s site here.

Johnsonville Meatballs and Sausage Slices

Posted by Brandon On December - 10 - 2013

It’s been a little while since our last Johnsonville post, but I’m excited to share a review of a couple of their new products. I’ve long been a fan of precooked food when it comes to tailgating, because there are so many things that could go wrong with raw food. Luckily Johnsonville has added several new precooked offerings to their already stellar stable of products.

johnsonville-logo

Disclaimer: We were given samples of the Johnsonville Meatball and Sausage Slices free of charge. This in no way affected our evaluation of the product, nor did it affect the objectivity of this review.

One of my favorite things about testing these new products for Johnsonville is that when they’re released they always have a lot of recipes to try them in. The new meatballs and sausage slices were no different. However sometimes I like to put my own spin on things, which is precisely what I did with this review.

 

mild-italian-sausage-slicesThe first of the two products I tested was the “Mild Italian Sausage Slices.” As you might have guessed from the name, these are simply slices of italian sausage. While there are a few things you could do with these I decided to try them on a pizza. I found them super easy to use for this purpose, just grab them from the freezer and top the pie, and my results were quite nice. While I made this particular pizza in my home oven, it could easily be done on the grill. The sausage itself was surprisingly juicy considering it had been cooked, frozen, and then baked in the oven, all while maintaining a pleasant flavor.  If mild sausage isn’t your scene, they also offer a hot and spicy variety.

 

3-cheese-italian-style-meatballs

The next products I tried were the “Three Cheese Italian Style Meatballs.” For these I decided to make something on the grill, and the best thing that came to mind was a meatball sub. I didn’t follow any specific recipe for these, but they turned out great just the same.   Even after grilling them a little to add some additional flavor they were still plenty moist for being precooked. Now what you need to know about these is that they’re made from pork, which is probably different than what you would expect. As such they have an entirely different texture and taste than similar products made from beef. Not a negative to the product, more of an FYI. If “Three Cheese” isn’t your scene they also offer “Classic Italian” and “Homestyle” which I’m sure are equally as good.

Based on my findings, I’m going to deem the Johnsonville Meatball and Sausage Slices “Tailgate Approved.” I think they’d be a welcome addition to any tailgate menu and, even as we near the end of the football season, they would be equally welcome as part of your indoor gameday spread. These products are gluten free, and are made to the same quality standards that you would expect of a company like Johnsonville.

To learn more about the product you can visit the product page here.  I would also encourage all Johnsonville fans to check out their social media sites for the latest news, tips, and contests.  You can find their Twitter pages @JvilleGrilling  and @JvilleKitchens.  Their Facebook pages are here and here, and a personal favorite of mine is their Instagram page.

Bojangles’ Tailgate Everything

Posted by Brandon On October - 15 - 2013

As a longtime advocate for simple tailgates, it should come as no surprise that I don’t think cooking on site is essential for a good time. In fact I’ve had great times when we had pizza or sub sandwiches. Fried chicken is another great grab and go type food, and if you’re in the Southeast you’ve probably even seen the bright yellow box of Bojangles’ chicken in the parking lot at some point. If you have it’s probably because Bojangles’ has one of the most noticeable tailgating-centric marketing plans that I’ve seen thus far.

Probably the best thing about Bojangles’ offerings is that they have large order pricing listed for just about all of their menu items. While we’ve all seen the “Family Size” or other large order type of listing, Bojangles’ is the only one that I know of that labels these options with the word “Tailgate.” Even though you might think of your tailgating group as family, if you’re out with the bros you might find it more comfortable to order your grub by using slightly less affectionate terminology.

tailgateeverything

Recently I received an email telling me that they upped their tailgate love by introducing the “Tailgate Everything” promotion. Among the things included on their site are some tailgating themed tips for managing your life, items for purchase, and some interesting recipes where you can turn their regular menu items into something different at your party. The section on tips for improving your tailgate really spoke to me, although I think given the current situation in Washington we might have a tough time booking the Blue Angels for a flyover, but fingers crossed nonetheless.skewersbiscuit

They were also kind enough to pass along some vouchers for samples so I decided to give a couple of these recipes, the Grilled Cheddar Bo Biscuits and the Roasted Chicken Bite Skewers a whirl. Both of which I’m pleased to say were easy to make, and quite tasty.

From Bojangles’/TailgateEverything.com
Grilled Cheddar Bo Biscuits
Ingredients

  • 1 Bojangles’ Biscuit
  • 2 slices of your favorite cheese, cheddar or smoked Gouda
  • liquid margarine
  • foil wrap

Directions

  1. Cut the Bojangles’ Biscuits in half
  2. Place the bottom half of the biscuit on a double layer of foil wrap 
  3. Place 2 slices of your favorite cheese on the bottom half of the biscuit
  4. Cover with the top of the biscuit and spray with liquid margarine
  5. Wrap in foil
  6. Place on a medium hot grill, cook 3 minutes on each side until cheese has melted
  7. Serve with grilled vegetables of your choice or grilled watermelon

From Bojangles’/TailgateEverything.com
Roasted Chicken Bite Skewers
Ingredients

  • 2 orders Bojangles’ Roasted Chicken Bites (freshly purchased)
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 3 oz Italian salad dressing
  • 4 wooden skewers

Directions

  1. Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes prior to using
  2. Cut peppers and onion into 8 pieces each
  3. String skewers alternating the already cooked chicken bites and fresh vegetables
  4. Place on medium grill and brush with Italian salad dressing, turn and continue to brush until the vegetables are cooked (to speed up the grilling process, wilt the vegetables in the microwave before assembling the skewers)

Even though we typically reserve the “Tailgate Approved” designation for product reviews, I think Bojangles’ is deserving of it here. They are making it easy for the fan on the run to swing by and grab some eats to enjoy before the game, and they’re even having some fun with it outside of the parking lot. You can see more  and enter to win some prizes at tailgateeverything.com and they’re on Twitter @Bojangles1977.

FiAir Review

Posted by Brandon On September - 29 - 2013

When it comes to tailgate grilling most of us fall into 2 camps: Charcoal or Gas.  If you’re in the “Gas” group you probably appreciate the convenience and speed that you gain from that fuel source.  Our friends in the “Charcoal” group are prepared to forgo the ease of use you might get from gas, if it means that they’re able to get the smoky goodness that only burning wood products can produce.   Whichever side you find yourself on, you probably wouldn’t mind a little help with making things go more smoothly.  Unfortunately the bulk of the new grilling products seem to be aimed at gas-grillers, but every once in a while we’ll see a new product for the charcoal crowd.  The FiAir is one of those products.fiair-logo

(Disclaimer: We did receive a sample of the FiAir for free. The fact this sample was provided to us free of charge in no way influenced our opinion of the product nor did it impact our ability to test and review the product fairly and objectively.)

Quite possibly the biggest hurdle to using a charcoal grill is getting the stuff lit.  There are several options, but I would imagine that the two most widely used options in the tailgating world are going to be lighter fluid or a chimney.  Lighter fluid or those match light briquettes are probably the simplest option, but the smell of the lighter fluid can impact the quality of your food if used improperly, and using too much can cause a very large flame that burns quite large.  Chimney starters are great options in that they can light a large amount of coals without the need for accelerants.  Furthermore the coals are all contained and any flames outside of the chimney are going to be more contained.  But chimneys can take a good while to get going, especially if you pack them full.  That’s where the FiAir comes into play.

We all remember that the 3 ingredients for fire are Fuel, Oxygen (Air), and Ignition.  Just like a clean air filter in your car, the introduction of more air and thus more oxygen will lead to a hotter more intense fire.  The concept of adding more air to a fire is not new.  The earliest examples of this can be found way back in the ancient world, when ancient blacksmiths would stoke their fire with bellows made of leather to allow them to forge their ancient tongs and spatulas. All kidding aside, the FiAir works in much the same way, it uses a battery powered fan to direct a stream of air into a fire.  The claim is a hotter burning, and thus quicker lighting fire.  How quick? They say you can get your coals lit in half the time, which is what we’re going to test.fiair battery door open (480x343)

The FiAir is incredibly simple to operate.  Load 3 AAA batteries into the end, lock on the cap, and press the button.  What you get is a nice steady stream of air.  Not to mention that the nozzle is designed to direct the air where you want it.  From there you aim it at the fire and you should get a hotter burn.  Sounds easy enough, but how does it work?

To test the efficacy of this product it seemed quite prudent to light a chimney using just ambient air, and then to do the same test but adding air to the mix with the FiAir.  The chimney I’m using for this test is the Weber RapidFire Compact Chimney which is roughly half the size of their full size model.  This was done to save on fuel and test time.  Each run of the test consisted of 40 Kingsford “Blue Bag” Charcoal Briquettes, and a wad of paper crumpled under the chimney.  The chimney that will be stoked with the FiAir will be given roughly 3 minutes of burn time before the FiAir will be used to make sure that the lowest coals are sufficiently lit and that the paper has had a chance to burn off a little.  Each test will be conducted in the Weber Smokey Joe Gold model.

fiair-right-shadowThe control run produced white ash on the top most briquettes in roughly 22 minutes.  This may seem fast, but remember we are using a smaller chimney for this test so it’ll naturally be quicker than the standard chimney.  I should mention that the top most briquettes were not completely covered in white ash, but they had some which led me to know they were burning.

The FiAir stoked chimney produced white ash on the top most briquettes in about 17.5 minutes.  Remember that we gave this chimney 3 minutes of initial burn time so the final times could be viewed as (Time – 3 minutes).  It was difficult to measure how “lit” the coals were scientifically, so I based it on appearance.   I did take some pictures just before dumping the coals to show that the 2 test chimneys looked similar.  If anything the FiAir stoked coals were slightly farther along, so you might be able to assume that the coals were ready closer to 17 minutes, so roughly a savings of 5 minutes.  Those 5 minutes translated into pre-heating time mean you are cooking when the next guy is just dumping his coals.  Furthermore if you have a very large grill, looking at you with the 55 gallon drum made into a grill, and you need to light a lot of coals it would undoubtedly aid in accomplishing that faster.

For what it’s worth I decided to try the FiAir on another chimney, and using the product more aggressively I was able to get what I consider a lit chimney at 15.5 minutes.  I was unable to cut my light time in half, but I was able to get them lit in roughly 32% of the time it took without the FiAir.  Photos of all my test runs are below:

How else might the FiAir benefit your grilling?  Well for starters you can raise the heat of your grill pretty easily, and quite quickly. But it’s more than that.  Using the product on lit coals I dumped into the grill, I was able to achieve what I felt to be a very complete combustion of the charcoal, even getting some bluish flame from it. Complete combustion is a crucial element when talking about charcoal grilled foods.  Off flavors can be associated with coals that are not burning well.  And while it is possible that the observed flame may have been a result of binders in the coal burning off, I do believe that the fire was far and away hotter than it would be without the introduction of additional air.  This increase in heat would be perfect for searing applications when you neat a raging hot fire to get a nice brown crust, such as steaks or burgers.  On that 2nd test of FiAir I used the product, quite successfully, to raise the temp of the coals in the grill for searing steaks.

While the obvious time and temperature gains make this product seem like a no-brainer there are several other considerations that need to be made.  Firstly the hotter the fire burns, the more fuel that will be consumed and additional coals may be needed for longer cooks. Secondly the extreme temperatures may necessitate the use of heavy grill gloves, or at least very long tools, to prevent any burns to the hands and wrists.  It is important to remember the FiAir is not a toy, it is a tool.  I do not want to hear about someone getting seriously burned and rushed to the ER because they got carried away with a fire.  I don’t want you to read that as this product is dangerous, it just needs to be used responsibly to be used safely.  Blowing air can cause a fire to act somewhat unpredictably so do not overuse this product or use it in confined spaces. The other aspect of the FiAir that may turn some tailgaters off is that you actually have to be around the fire to use it.  I mentioned above how you could save time, but if you used that chimney time to set up your tailgate site or to prep food, you may find that you aren’t coming out much better.

When used properly I would definitely recommend the FiAir to tailgaters and grillers who use or want to use charcoal, or in other words, it is “Tailgate Approved.”  Despite not reproducing the results they claimed, the time savings make it a more practical option for those who don’t have a lot of extra time to wait for the coals to be ready.  The ability to boost the heat of your fire is also desirable for some direct grill applications, and the price point is seems more than fair at $29.99.  To find out more or to order the FiAir you can visit www.FiAir.net.

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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.

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