Tailgating has come a long way. I'm no tailgate historian but earlier on a simple Hibachi grill or Weber Smoky Joe was good enough to get the job done. Throw in a cooler full of beer and that was that. At times we still grill the simple brats and burgers when time is at a minimum such as after Gunstock. Other times sub sandwiches are fine. On very special occasions (when we gather with my blog buddies for instance) we like to recreate what we do in our backyard at the stadium parking lot.
(Blurred image due to low light and no tripod)
Lately I have seen some very elaborate tailgate cooking set-ups. Some have pickup trucks where an entire kitchen slides out and unfolds from the bed making any backyard griller jealous. Others bring an RV to the game. It all comes down to personal preference, how deep your pockets are and how many will be present for the pre-game feast.
To me, ballpark and stadium food has always been tasteless, overpriced crap I don't want in me belly. Funk Dat. In modern times most franchise owners have glammed up their stadium offerings quite a bit. Most newer stadiums have exclusive clubs where the food has come a long way and the prices compare with casual city restaurants and those ever-present trendy “Irish Pubs” you find on every street corner in downtown Chicago.
Comiskey Park has such a club and Carl supplied us with a few passes. We checked it out for the first time during the last two innings of Sunday’s game. The Stadium Club is operated by The Levy Restaurant Group and they are at the top of the game when it comes to stadium-style dining. Check them out.
The Stadium Club in the upper right field deck at Comiskey Park has a very clubby atmosphere and best of all, it’s air conditioned. On a hot humid day like last Sunday it was a welcome relief to end the game up there. Wrigley Field has nothing to compare. Here’s the view.
Me? I would rather tailgate before the game in the parking lot. It’s casual, not that much work and drinking cocktails before the game allows me the time to sober up before driving home. Who needs to spend a paycheck eating crap in the stadium when entering the game with a belly full of lusciousness? Besides, it’s good for observing other people and much more festive as well. Me and the bro love the challenge of making good grub out of the back of a truck under a pop-up canopy providing relief and shelter from the elements.
This year he went one better. He brought this portable gas grill from Cabela’s using his loyalty points when a sale was underway. With the deal it cost him less than most full size Weber kettles and best of all it collapses, flattened to fit in the back of most SUV’s with plenty of room leftover for coolers, chairs, canopies, etc. The grill has a 2’x3’ cooking area (a guess) with three burners.
This is how it appears when collapsed for transport.
The only disadvantage is the lack of a lid but when grilling for a tailgate feast there’s no time for serious southern-style BBQ so ribs and pulled pork are off the menu. To paraphrase H.S.T., When the grilling gets weird, the weird turn pro.
This time all our food was skewered k’bob style except for his home-smoked salmon appetizer. Prep time onsite was at a minimum, only leaving the skewer duty, grilling and a quick clean up. Before we left Indiana for the ballpark we had prepared wild turkey breast strips and marinated them in a thai-style sauce, leg of lamb cut into strips marinated in a Greek garlic lemon oil with fresh rosemary and oregano from my herb garden, real gulf shrimp (we won’t be seeing those for a while) marinated in a chipotle-butter sauce, placed them all in separate plastic containers with lids and tossed them in a cooler. What’s not to like? Is this easy or what?
One tailgate menu item we tried for the very first time was grilling fruit skewers that were basted with a bourbon brown sugar and butter glaze while cooking. Hawww! I never grilled fruit before but this will definitely be on the permanent tailgate menu after tasting it. Awesome stuff, simply decadent, and I am not a sweet dessert type of guy. It’s so sweet and so good I will make this at home again and even more often once the wife has a taste. It's so simple and easy even a caveman like me can make it.
Being busy grilling, drinking and talking I only have this image of the shrimp cooking with the uncooked fruit skewers waiting on the right.
The bro invited some friends at the last minute (he seems to always know others attending the same games we go to) and I didn’t think we had enough for all. I was wrong. There were very few leftovers and a lot of pleased people.