During the long winter months, and sweet, sweaty summer naps, we all reminisce about tailgates past and future football festivities to come. [dreaming Mexican meme] Everyone also knows the best part of these tailgates is the food… the carne cornucopia that spews from grills, pits and smokers. Juicy grilled pub burgers, plump hot dogs, and wings are the standards we’ve all come to love. Some folks even BBQ ribs or smoke briskets (not me, I don’t do drugs). Hell, even if you’re sitting at home watching the game there’s nothing like 15 ice cold Special Exports, a few chili cheese dogs, and chips.
Yes indeed! With a few simple dishes, you can turn your tailgate from heaven on Earth to a south-of-the-border food utopia. I’m talking about having your cheese filled bratwurst and eating it too… con salsa!
Lets begin with the starter, in this case, the delicious dip. Every self respecting person knows the next step after cracking open that first beer is reaching for a chip and diving headlong into some dip like the “Split Face” video guy. Beans, guacamole, 5-layer (and any exponent thereof) or just some simple nachos… it doesn’t matter. If you can scoop it up with a tortilla chip and shovel it into your mouth, it’s all good.
Well sports fan try this:
The easy translation for queso fundido is “Virgin Queef”… just kidding. It is “cheese fondue”, or just “fondue”. The Mexican version is a delicious combination of cheese, chorizo, onions and jalapenos. Basically the Beatles of Mexican ingredients (with onion being Ringo).
It however doesn’t dip like fondue, which is more of a sauce. Queso fundido is made to scoop with chips, or better yet, to be served on a nice warm tortilla. The consistency of the cheese is more like that of a pizza right out of the oven.
But the real beauty of queso fundido is how simple it is to make. It’s like the tailgate gods created queso fundido specifically for dudes cooking while 5 Bloody Mary’s and a Bourbon chaser deep. It can be done in a crock pot, cast iron grill pan and even microwave (aka the Trifecta of Drunk Cooking Methods). The ingredients are simple as well:
– Mexican chorizo (beef or pork)
– Chihuahua, Asadero, or mozzarella cheese, shredded (Chihuahua will melt like a boss, but sometimes I like to throw in some mozzarella for consistency.)
– Small onion, or three Mexican bulb onions, finely chopped
– Clove of garlic, finely chopped (When I say finely chopped, I’m talking baby food mush. No consistency, just flavor.)
– Diced jalapeno (If you can handle the heat, do two. If you need to take it easy, and cant grow facial hair, go ahead and use half. Just don’t get any Mikes hard lemonade in the fundido.)
I didn’t include portion sizes because it is really up to you, and men don’t follow precise directions. Just keep in mind that chorizo is spicy. My own rule of thumb is two parts cheese to one part chorizo.
I prefer my fundido baked if possible, but when tailgaiting a pan over the grill is best. Preferably in a cast iron pan on the top rack of your grill, over indirect heat.
Direct heat fry the onions, garlic and half of the jalapenos in just a couple of drops of oil.
Drain them of oil and mix in the chorizo, lining the bottom of the pan with the chorizo like you would a pie pan with crust. If you have enough to go up on the sides of the pan, even better.
Throw your shredded cheese over the top, like a pizza, and then the rest of the jalapenos.
Cover it and let it sit in indirect heat until the cheese melts and chorizo cooks through.
Serve it with chips, tortillas, tostadas, and if no one is looking, spoon it straight into your face.
Where’s the beef you say? Me too, sometimes when I sleep. Yet there are not a great deal of traditional tailgating foods that soothe my aching beef molar. Numerous times I’ve been eating my 6th cheeseburger and I think to myself, “You know what would be good? Some carne asada.” And why not? It’s delicious. Well, as good as carne asada is, for a tailgate this is better…
Yeah, that’s right, beef tacos. I am talking juicy chunks of beef, not that seasoned ground BS that I eat ever Saturday night. Not shredded beef either. I am talking diced and seasoned beef shank in a warm corn tortilla.
Just like the street vendors in Juarez, minus the risk of decapitation via lawn care equipment or explosive diarrhea.
Preparation for beef tacos begins at home. Any cut of meat will work, as long as you can get cubes about the size of your thumb fingernail. Don’t be afraid to leave a little fat on the meat for flavor. You’ll be drinking your liver into oblivion and smoking like Aaron Hernandez’s gun at the tailgate, so a bit of fat is no big deal.
When you’re done cubing it, place the meat in a plastic container, season with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper, a squeeze of lime and a few swigs worth of beer. Don’t get carried away with the beer so you don’t lose all of the beefy goodness.
Throw in the fridge until tailgate time.
This serves as a platform to cook the meat, and have a place to warm tortillas, breads or even the a fore mentioned carne asada. For us drunken tailgaters our options are a bit more limited. You could buy your own disc, or disco, which is a shallower looking wok with a propane tank attachment.
Or you could just take a large cast iron pan from your kitchen and cook over your grill, and use the money you saved to buy another bottle of Crown Royal. Well, I love Crown and Coke, so you know which way I went.
The beauty of these beef tacos is that you can cook the meat all at the same time, or cook to order. Leave the container in a cooler, and when the mood strikes, throw a spatula worth in a hot skillet with a bit of oil. 1 spatula of meat equals roughly one taco (corn tortilla size limits us, not our meat imagination).
Since we did not thoroughly season the meat, this is the time to do it. Cayenne, chilli powder, cumin, or even just some Sazon or taco seasoning. Let your palette be the judge.
As the meat is starting to brown throw a tortilla over the meat to warm.
Once its all cooked then follow regular taco procedure by inserting meat in taco (as you wink at the chick in the tailgate next door).
Add pico de gallo, squeeze of lime, and/or salsa. Perhaps some fresh cilantro and onion, with lime. Or be a damn gringo and top with crema, lettuce, tomato, and cheese.
Besides the obvious, of just being delicious, hot dogs and burgers serve another very important tailgating purpose. They provide the breads that soak up the orgiastic amounts of alcohol all throughout the day. In other words, they save lives folks. Well, we have you covered, meet our good friend…
What some mistakenly call a Mexican sandwich, is actually more of a sub. It uses the baguette like bolillo roll, sometimes also called “pan frances” (French bread), and is filled with many of the same ingredients as a sandwich or burrito. Tortas can be as simple as a ham and cheese affair, or can have any plate of food squeezed between two buns. They can be smeared with re-fried beans, covered in cheese and broiled, or just mayo, mustard, bologna and cheese. For our tailgate I suggest two ways.
The first involves the meat from the beef tacos, prepared in the same manner.
Instead of warming a tortilla, we cut a bolillo in half and toast both sides cut side down on the grill.
When the bread is toasted, it is then smeared with re-fried beans like you would mayo on a sandwich
Add one or two, hell three, tacos worth of meat
Topped with shredded cheese of your choice.
It is then finished off with pico de gallo, guacamole, crema, salsa and/or pickled jalapenos.
The second is a shout out to a tailgate blue-blood. The OG of pregame festivities, the Cadillac of meats. The venerable hot dog.
The choice of link is yours (I don’t believe any man should ever tell another what wiener he should ingest).
Whatever dog you choose, wrap it in bacon.
Grill over indirect heat until bacon is crisp.
Instead of being cut in half, our bolillo will be opened on its side and degutted in a Braveheart like fashion, making a pocket or sorts.
Now we have reached a fork in the road. You could go traditional and do the re-fried beans, bacon dog then mayo mustard and cheese.
Or you could have fun with it. With bacon dog in a toasted bolillo, the time to break out the nacho cheese and chili is here.
Jalapenos, diced onions and tears of joy top of this beauty.
I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do, as they are a new take on a long ‘Merican tradition. If you don’t like them, I’m sorry.
No… no I am not.
These recipes are sure fire hits for any man with a love of football and cooked meats.