It’s almost that time of year again. And this year, more than usual, fans are eagerly anticipating the beginning of football season.
But what will football look like during this pandemic? Will fans even be able to cheer in the stands? There are still more questions than answers, and the protocols may change by the month.
Regardless of what happens, the tailgating menu, at least, must go on! Whether you’re able to gather on campus before the games we assume will be played, or pregame under the carport or in the outdoor kitchen, a festive and delicious tailgate menu will keep everyone well fed and happy. This menu is also easy to prepare as individual servings, which is conducive to our new normal of socially distant gatherings.
ON THE MENU:
• Baked Caramelized Onion and Bacon Dip
• Boudin-stuffed Sliders with Cajun Burger Sauce
• Sweet and Sour Refrigerator Pickles
• Individually Wrapped Brown Butter Cookie Bars
Recipes by Tracey Koch
BAKED CARMELIZED ONION AND BACON DIP
A warm and cheesy dip is the perfect appetizer to serve at any tailgate party, and this decadent dip is truly a favorite. It is filled with cream cheese and Swiss cheese along with caramelized onions and bacon. The tangy, creamy base along with the sweet caramelized onions and smoky bacon is a delicious snack on a crisp fall afternoon. This dip was originally written to be made in a 9-inch pie pan; however, we changed it up for individual ramekins, which makes it easier for guests to enjoy their own personal servings.
4 to 6 slices of bacon
2 cups sliced sweet onion
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
8 ounces softened cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1. In a heavy nonstick skillet, fry the bacon strips until golden and crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan, and place it on a paper towel to drain. Once the bacon is cooled, crumble and set aside.
2. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the bacon drippings in the pan and discard the rest. Set the pan on medium heat. Add the onions to sauté.
3. Sprinkle in half the black pepper and half the salt and continue to sauté the onions, stirring frequently, until they become soft and are golden in color. Turn off the heat and allow the onions to cool.
4. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and spray 8 (3- to 4-ounce) individual ramekins with cooking spray.
5. In a mixing bowl, cream the softened cream cheese and mayonnaise. Fold in the caramelized onions, the crumbled bacon and half the grated Swiss cheese. Season with the remaining salt, pepper and hot sauce.
6. Divide the onion dip between the ramekins. Top each with the remaining Swiss cheese. Bake the individual dips for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Allow to cool slightly before serving with crackers and fresh veggies.
Note: This dip can be made a day ahead of time and then baked before serving. If you prefer making one large dip, bake in a 9-inch pie plate for 40 to 45 minutes.
BOUDIN-STUFFED SLIDERS WITH CAJUN BURGER SAUCE
Grilling boudin and burgers are a staple at many tailgates, so we decided to combine the two and make a boudin-stuffed slider. The result is a delicious, juicy burger stuffed with rich, savory boudin. We decided to make the burgers into sliders for an easier tailgate addition, but feel free to make these full sized. We topped the burgers with a quick refrigerator pickle and a spicy, creamy Cajun burger sauce. The tangy, crisp pickle combined with the creamy sauce bring this slider to a whole different level. To keep up with our new social distancing tailgate theme, these sliders are easy to serve individually wrapped.
Servings: Yields 16 sliders
To assemble the slider patties
2 pounds smoked boudin
4 pounds ground round beef
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
16 slider buns
1. Remove the boudin from the casing. Crumble it into a bowl.
2. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the ground meat along with the remaining ingredients. Mix well until all is combined.
3. Divide the ground meat into 16 quarter-pound patties. Break each patty in half and reshape to form 32 slider-size patties.
4. Place a spoonful of the crumbled boudin on top of half of the slider patties. Place the second half on top. Pinch the edges of each one to seal. You will end up with 16 stuffed-boudin patties.
5. Heat your grill or skillet to 400 degrees. Cook the sliders 4 to 5 minutes on each side, or until the juices run clear.
6. Dress the sliders with Cajun burger sauce and refrigerator pickles between your favorite slider buns.
For the sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon hot sauce
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon Creole seasoning
3 teaspoons water
1. In a mixing bowl, whisk the ketchup, rice vinegar and sugar together until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Stir in the mayonnaise and remaining ingredients until well blended.
3. Cover and chill until you are ready to use. This sauce is better when made a few hours ahead of time. It will keep in the refrigerator for a week.
Sweet and Sour Refrigerator Pickles
These quick homemade pickles work great on the sliders, but can also be part of a charcuterie spread. The tangy flavors and satisfying crunch are so refreshing on these hot late summer days, we also wouldn’t fault you for snacking on them right out the jar.
Servings: Yields 2 cups
1 ½ cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Stevia
½ teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 large English or seedless cucumber, sliced thin
¼ cup thin sliced red onion
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, salt, Stevia and pepper flakes until the salt and Stevia are dissolved.
2. In a 2-cup container with a tight-fitting lid, layer the cucumber and red onion slices.
3. Pour the vinegar mixture over the cucumbers and onions and close the lid.
4. Place this into the refrigerator for several hours or overnight, making sure to turn the container over occasionally so that the cucumbers are evenly covered in the solution.
INDIVIDUALLY WRAPPED BROWN BUTTER COOKIE BARS
The perfect way to round out any party is with a little something sweet. Tracey’s daughter Maggie has perfected these brown butter cookies, and they have quickly become a favorite in our families. We have made these cookies with dark chocolate chips or butterscotch chips and a combination of both. All versions are equally delicious. The brown butter adds a wonderful nutty hint to the cookie bars, elevating their flavor to the next level. It’s also a great dessert that can be wrapped individually.
Recipe is by Maggie Koch.
Servings: Yields 24
2 sticks salted butter
1 ¾ cups flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 cups dark chocolate chips (butterscotch chips can be used instead)
½ cup toasted chopped pecans (optional)
1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Continue to heat the butter over medium heat, swirling the pan gently until the butter turns golden brown and smells nutty.
2. Transfer the melted brown butter to a glass or metal bowl and place this bowl over an ice bath to cool. Place the cooled brown butter into the refrigerator to cool completely and become solid around the edges.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate mixing bowl use an electric mixer to beat the eggs, white sugar and vanilla for 1 minute.
4. With the mixer going, add the brown butter and brown sugar until all is incorporated.
5. Turn the mixer to low and carefully add in the flour mixture until it is just coming together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in the chocolate chips. Continue mixing on low until everything is combined.
6. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and press the dough evenly into the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.
7. Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan and then allow it to cool completely. Cut the cookies into squares and wrap them individually with plastic wrap. These may be made one day ahead.
This article was originally published in the August 2020 issue of 225 Magazine.