(Family Features) - It's that time of year when sports fans across the country gather every weekend, at home in front of the big screen or in a stadium parking lot, to celebrate the gridiron battles of the season. The biggest play of the game? What to eat!
"Tailgating is a long-held tradition where the menu's starting line-up can create a winning experience, whether your favorite team wins or not," said Chef Ray Lampe, author of the newly-released "NFL Gameday Cookbook." "By picking a versatile and great-tasting 'Pro'- tein like pork, there are many easy ways to create crowd-pleasing dishes."
A recent survey by the National Pork Board found that 42 percent of sports fanatics put pork (sausages, ribs, tenderloin and pulled pork) on the grill for tailgate celebrations more often than other meats.
To add a kick to game day dishes, Lampe suggests throwing flavorful twists onto basics. For example, spice up pork chops with sweet and fruity flavors like coconut and pineapple juice. Make unexpected plays with healthful ingredients like pork tenderloin, which is as lean as a skinless chicken breast.
Affectionately known as "Dr. BBQ," Lampe is a celebrity chef who has won more than 200 barbecue cook offs over the last 25 years and currently serves as executive chef at Southern Hospitality in NYC.
Whether you are a pro tailgater or a second-stringer, Lampe's tips will help you score a touchdown at any gathering this season.
- Plan an All-Star menu with a variety of foods - from chili to sandwiches to dessert - so there's something for everyone.
- Bold and spicy flavors are always a hit. Pre-made marinades and spice rubs are a simple and quick strategy for adding kick to spare ribs.
- Relax post-game. Use as many disposable and recyclable items as possible to make clean-up easier.
Everyone can be an MVP this season. Through December 1, visit TheOtherWhiteMeat.com for a chance to win two tickets to the 2009 Fiesta Bowl and a VIP tailgate party with "Dr. BBQ" himself, Ray Lampe.