(Family Features) - Just because you don't have tickets to this week's most talked about football match-up doesn't mean you can't enjoy yourself on game day. Why not use the opportunity to fire up the barbecue, gather friends and family, and bring the tailgating party home?
Chris Lilly, champion pitmaster and owner of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Ala., says the key to a successful backyard tailgate is a winning game plan. "I like to do as much as I can prior to game day so that when my guests arrive, I am free to enjoy myself," said Lilly. "Easy steps such as marinating meat the night before, preparing a checklist of necessary items to avoid last minute trips to the market, and choosing simple recipes make all the difference when you are trying to catch the first quarter."
World champion quarterback and restaurateur, Joe Theismann, says he has spent some of his favorite game days in his own backyard. "Tailgating at home gives you the ultimate home field advantage," said Theismann. "The grill is always going, the glasses are always topped off, and there is always room for a quick game of pickup football between family and friends."
For an even more authentic game day experience, create a menu featuring recipes that incorporate the flavors and ingredients of each team's hometown. When the University of Notre Dame takes the field this year, Theismann will be firing up Luck O' the Irish Lamb Chops to honor his alma mater. Meanwhile, Alabama native Lilly will grill Smoked Chicken With Alabama White Sauce over a bed of Kingsford Charcoal while cheering on the University of Auburn.
For more ways to bring the tailgate home, including additional tips and game day recipe match-ups, visit www.MealsTogether.com. While there, share your go-to plays, including charcoal grilling recipe secrets and strategies, for a chance to win great prizes during college football season.
Winning Game Plan
For a successful backyard tailgate, execute the following key plays:
- Score an Early First Down. Marinate meat the night prior to game day, using a large Glad Storage Bag for even and easy coating.
- Create a Burger Blitz. For a better game day burger, poke a small hole in the center of the patty. This will stop the meat from rising in the center, allowing for a delicious, evenly-cooked burger. For extra flavor, try adding a bit of KC Masterpiece Barbecue Sauce.
- Avoid Pass Interference. Make sure there is a radio or small television by the grill and in the kitchen so you don't miss any of the action.
- Pack the Stands. To really draw a crowd, add a bit of Kingsford Charcoal with Mesquite to your grill - neighbors won't be able to resist the rich, earthy smell of the charcoal fire. Before you know it, your yard will feel a bit like a stadium parking lot.
- Take It Into Overtime. To really regulate cooking temperature, use two grills: on the larger grill, create hot and cool zones to rotate your meat from searing to indirect cooking; on the smaller grill, create a normal fire and cook hors d'oeuvres and desserts.