Tempting Tailgate Foods

Tailgating has evolved around the “bratwurst,” and we need to bow our heads for a moment of silence and praise the brat, an item of perfection by itself. When pairing food with standing, drinking beer and watching football, the brat is where it’s at. Add a little onion, ketchup, mustard or kraut and you are filled up Wisconsin style, ready to cheer your preferred team to victory – Go Pack Go!

For those who love the brat but need to change up their diets throughout football season, here are some BBQ recipes to enjoy surrounded by friends and family. (Both sauces can be can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for at least a week and make 1 pint. You can use the sauces interchangeably on the meat recipes here, as well). I recommend having lots of napkins and a container of Wet Naps on hand.

Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce

2 tablespoons canola oil

1/4 cup green onions (white part)

2 cloves garlic minced

3 tablespoons fresh ginger (1 tablespoon for sauté and remaining 2 just before you remove the sauce from the heat)

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 cup ketchup

1/8 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons Sriracha (hot chili sauce)

1 star anise

1/3 cup honey

Juice of one lime

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup chopped green onions (green part)

Zest of one orange

Heat the oil in a saucepan, sauté the green onions, garlic and 1 tablespoon of ginger until wilted. Stir in rice wine vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce and Sriracha. Constantly stir until it comes to a soft boil. Toss in the star anise and honey. Stir for approximately another minute and remove from the heat. Add to the sauce the fresh-squeezed lime juice, cilantro, green onion greens, remaining ginger and orange zest. Salt and pepper to taste. To adjust the “heat” add more or less Sriracha.

Katie Sikora, chicken leg






Grilled Chicken Drummies in Sweet and Spicy BBQ

Marinate approximately 20 drummies in orange juice 2 to 4 hours prior to grill time. Using a basting brush, slather each drummy with BBQ sauce (there will be extra sauce left for later use).

Chicken has a tendency to flare up on the grill, so keep the temperature low (200˚F). Spray the grill with non-stick spray before placing the meat on the heat. Because they are sauced they will want to catch fire, do not leave the grill unattended. Turn the chicken every 5 to 10 minutes, adding more sauce throughout the cooking process. The chicken drummies take about 30 minutes to grill. To test if they are done, cut into a drummy. If the juice is clear they are finished, if still pink grill longer.

Laura’s Chocolate Chipotle Bourbon BBQ Sauce

1 tablespoon rendered bacon fat or canola oil

3/4 cup onion minced

1 dried chipotle pepper – minced

1/2 cup bourbon

1 cup ketchup

1/2 cup dark honey, sorghum syrup or molasses

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Heat the bacon fat in a saucepan, sauté the onion until translucent. Add the chipotle pepper and stir. Add the bourbon, but do not inhale the steam at this stage – bourbon and chipotle pack a punch (nose burner!). Stir in the ketchup and simmer for about 2 minutes. Add the honey, syrup or molasses, cocoa powder and black pepper. Stir and simmer for a couple more minutes and remove from the heat.

Katie Sikora, baby back ribs






BBQ Baby Back Ribs in Bourbon Chipotle Chocolate BBQ

An awesome rib prep trick I learned from my mom:  place the ribs elevated in a baking dish (I used my cookie cooling rack) with a bath of water and 3 tablespoons white vinegar. Cover with foil and bake in the oven at 200˚F for up to 3 hours. This ensures the meat is super tender and falls off the bone. You can do this a day in advance. One full rack of ribs is a good portion to share between two people.

Slather the cooked ribs with BBQ sauce on both sides. Place on the medium hot grill; remember to spray the grill with non-stick cooking spray before you place the meat on the heat. Do not leave the ribs unattended, frequently turn and sauce until done. You will know when to remove the ribs because the sauce will caramelize on the meat – be careful not to burn them. The meat is already cooked before you place it on the grill, so the ribs do not take long to finish, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Katie Sikora, muffin






Corrine’s Cornbread Green Onion Muffins – Stuffed with a Curd

Makes 12. Preheat oven to 425˚F

You will need a bag of cheese curds.

Mix these dry ingredients in a large bowl:

1 cup stone ground cornmeal

1 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Mix these wet ingredients in a medium bowl:

2 eggs, beaten

3 tablespoons melted butter

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup milk

Add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture.

Fold in:

1 cup frozen sweet corn

1/2 cup chopped green onions

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Spray the inside of the liners with non-stick spray. Spoon the batter to fill each muffin half full. Place a cheese curd in the center of each muffin. Spoon more batter to fill each muffin liner almost to the top. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with paprika.

Bake for 15 minutes.  

These can be made a day in advance, so to reheat on the grill, wrap the muffins in foil and place on the cool side of the grill while grilling the meat, turning often. Best if served warm. Enjoy!

Photography by Katie Sikora.