5@5 - Make your tailgate a touchdown
September 2nd, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

It's opening weekend for college football, and Texan chef Tim Love wants to make sure there's plenty of pigskin to go around - in more ways than one.

Love will be tailgating on ESPN’s College GameDay Saturday, but he's dropped by to offer a little pregame party strategy just in time for tomorrow's kickoff.

Hut, hut, bite!

Five Tips to Make Your Tailgate a Touchdown: Tim Love

1. Tackling the menu
“While burgers are always a crowd pleaser, a whole animal is a crowd gatherer, and is sure to draw attention in even the biggest parking lots.

If you’re a professional tailgater, you tailgate before and after the game, so you bring burgers and steaks for before kickoff. At the same time, you set up your whole animal (lamb, goat, pig) in a smoker (personally, I put it in the 'Love Box,' which is kind of a like a souped-up version of a La Caja China) so that it will be roasted by the end of the game.

Stuff the animal with chopped carrots, celery, onions and jalapeños all mixed with chili rub, and you got yourself a nice post-game treat whether your team wins or loses. This is particularly good for the guy that showed up to your tailgate with no ticket - gives him something to do while you go watch the game.

Fish and seafood are generally a bad idea at a tailgate because it’s so hard to keep it cold and fresh, particularly early in the season. One thing though - fish fries are great, especially in the middle of November.

But early on in the season, avoid the seafood because it’s one thing to get sick from drinking too much; it’s a whole other thing to get sick from spoiled seafood.”

2. Don't ignore the sidelines
“One of the best, and easiest, things you can make at a tailgate is a spicy pinto bean stew. You can actually make it all ahead of time and then just heat it up on the grill (and yes, it’s OK to use one of those foil trays to do it). It goes great with just about everything, and everyone loves it.”

Spicy Pinto Bean Stew


  • 1 1/2 pounds dried pinto beans, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 3/4 pound thickly sliced bacon, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 16 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 large jalapeños halved, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper

Cooking Directions

  1. In a large pot, cover the beans with water and bring to a boil.
  2. Remove from the heat, cover and let the beans soak for 1 hour.
  3. Drain and rinse the beans and return them to the pot.
  4. Add the broth, bacon, garlic, jalapeños, thyme, oregano, bay leaves and 2 quarts of water and bring to a boil.
  5. Simmer over moderately low heat until the beans are very tender (approximately 2 1/2 hours).
  6. Discard the jalapeños and bay leaves.
  7. Pick out and mash the garlic cloves, then stir them back into the beans.
  8. Season the beans with salt and pepper and serve.

3. Pep up your prep
“Prep as much as you can before the tailgate. Once you get to the parking lot, the only thing you should have to do is get the fire going and put the meat on the grill.

Also, make sure you don’t plan on just serving off of your tailgate or out of your trunk. The secret to a good tailgate (other than great food) is great hospitality. A few folding tables and chairs makes a big difference.”

4. Make sure you have plenty of booze that you like, and someone you like even more to drive you home
“There’s nothing worse than being that guy. You know, the guy who stumbles into other people’s tailgates and picks fights with opposing fans and ends up on the front page of the newspaper. Don’t be that guy.

That said, always make sure you have enough ice, and don’t forget the bottle opener.”

5. Score at storage
“Treat your tailgate like your kitchen. Always clean up your area before the game, so when you come back out, you don’t have stuff strewn all over the place because you were too lazy to take care of it earlier.

As far as storage is concerned, get yourself a Yeti cooler – it keeps things colder than the North Pole.”

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

See all our best grilling advice at Grilling 101

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Filed under: 5@5 • Celebrity Chefs • Events • News • Rituals • Sports • Tailgating • Think • Tim Love

soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Kris

    Good call on the YETI Cooler. Not getting enough love from this post. They're a little pricey, but you can get them with free shipping from Vanobo.com

    September 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  2. Perry P Perkins

    Love that Spicy Pinto Bean Stew recipe (think I'll be trying it this weekend!)

    Great article, thanks!

    – Perry

    Perry P. Perkins
    “La Caja China Cooking”
    "La Caja China World"

    September 3, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Mark

      Great read and I agree with you, that pinto bean stew looks like a keeper! Thanks to the writer!

      September 5, 2011 at 7:26 am |
  3. Col. Stogie

    HA! Bring your chicken nuggets and salad with croutons to this party, why don't you, Food and Wine crew.

    September 3, 2011 at 12:41 am |
  4. fob

    That bean stew sounds wonderful!

    @Ted: to use the words of a current song: I heard Jesus he drank wine and I'd bet we'd get along just fine....
    and NO, it wasn't grape juice.

    September 2, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
  5. Andruha

    HAHA. Success = appearing just like one of the idiots in the picture. Most of America succeeds wildly. Congrats.

    September 2, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • Sam

      so, dumbass, how is eating delicious food and hanging out with friends being an "idiot"?

      September 2, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  6. Ted Wu, Los Angeles

    It's disgusting to see the word "booze" included. And treated as if it's normal.
    Wake up, people. Ingesting alcohol is NOT normal.

    September 2, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • Laughing

      Ingesting alcohol is NOT normal??.....people have been doing it since they discovered it....im imagining you as one of those looney hippies.. MORON

      September 2, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • keith123

      Ted: Disgusting? Give me a break. It is normal and there is nothing wrong with it in moderation. I guess you are one of those folks who likes to control what others do.

      September 2, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • Col. Stogie

      wake up and smell the vomit. Drinking and college go together like mac and cheese. It has for centuries.

      September 3, 2011 at 12:43 am |
    • jillmarie

      It's not normal for pregnant women like me or recovering alcoholics. Besides these two groups, everyone of age can imbibe.
      Besides, alcohol is a preservative, it keeps you young! ;)

      September 3, 2011 at 9:40 am |
  7. Multi-Tasking @ Work

    love College Football Tail-Gating parties...the smell of fall in the air and great food and lots of Team Spirit...

    September 2, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
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