You don’t have to have a towable grill to stave off hunger before the game. A small portable grill is fine. You can also cook some things in advance; just bring an extra cooler with towels for extra insulation. Be sure to bring paper plates, disposable forks, etc. If you are new to tailgating, get there at least three hours early.
1: Nachos: Grab some pickled or fresh jalapeños, your favorite tortilla chips, and a small crock pot of heated cheese. You can mix in Rotel, or a store-brand tomato and chili pepper mix. Meat is optional.
2: Hot Dogs: I fix these in advance rather than paying $4.50 per dog. I put them in room temperature water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, and dump them (water and all) in a container that can take the heat. Cover them for at least 15 minutes and they will plump up to perfection. Heat the buns and keep them separate. Some prefer to grill them; it all depends on your preference.
3: Hamburgers: With a portable grill, these are best fixed on the lot, over coals. Bring the dressings in a cooler.
4: Brats: These are NOT like hot dogs — they are better, and should be grilled on the lot. You can eat them in a bun, however.
5: Hoagie Sandwich: A sandwich made by someone else always tastes better, but if you prepare some respectable sandwiches on good quality bread in advance, it’s the next best thing. This is one of the cheaper tailgating choices.
6: Pizza: Homemade pizza is the best. Wrap it up in foil, or save a couple of pizza boxes and line them with parchment paper. You can always take the lazy way out and pick up pizza on the way out to the game, too.
7: Kebabs: Spear the meat (or tofu for you tailgating vegans) and veggies. Season with salt and pepper, slather with olive oil, and grill away. Large chunks of onions, bell peppers, and portobello mushrooms are good choices. I recommend metal skewers. The wood ones are flimsy.
8: Chili: In cold weather, chili is one of the best things in the world. I usually start with a chili kit, and doctor it up to my heart’s content. I go with grass-fed ground beef, and add a bit of olive oil to make up for the lack of fat, but a lot of people prefer ground chuck. Chili discussions, like religion, politics, brisket, and football, are an easy way to start a fight.
I fix chicken enchiladas from a classic old recipe. Whichever kind you make, put them in disposable foil pans, with aluminum foil stretched over the top.
10: Barbecue: Brisket, chicken, and foil wrapped potatoes. If you have a portable grill you can take, the obvious traditional choices are always popular.
Skip Griffin is a lifelong Texas Longhorns fan. He’ll root for any Texas college team, however. He maintains that tailgating season officially begins in April, with Texas Rangers baseball.