This season, don’t penalize your taste buds by placing that routine, game-day pizza order when you can score rave reviews from family and friends by firing up the grill for a backyard tail – gate party with all the sights, sounds and smells of the stadium. Football analyst Mike Golic and champion pitmaster Chris Lilly both believe that game-day tastes better on a charcoal grill, and are sharing their favorite tips and recipes.
Golic, a former defensive lineman and host of ESPN’s "Mike & Mike in the Morning," knows how fun game day can be — even off the field and in his own backyard.
"Tailgating prior to kickoff is a football tradition in my family, so game days are big at my house," said Golic. "I’m about as bigof a grillingenthusiast as I am a sports fan, so any game day is a great day to be around the grill in my backyard and reconnect with my friends and family after a busy week."
Chris Lilly, champion pitmaster and author of "Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book," couldn’t agree more. He also insists that game-day grilling is one of the best ways to extend the summer and take advantage of the extra hours of sunlight provided by the extended daylight saving time period.
"Just because Labor Day weekend has come and gone, doesn’t mean it’s time to put up your grill," said Lilly. "In fact, nothing beats the unmistakable aroma of a charcoal cookout on a crisp, fall game day with friends and family. Make sure you put a variety of tailgate favorites on the menu to win over your guests — combining salads and sides with multiple on-the-grill options for the delicious smoky flavor that charcoal adds to food."
Linebacker Barbecue Potatoes Recipe created by champion pitmaster Chris Lilly, on behalf of Kingsford charcoal
Makes: 4 to 6 servings Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 1 1/2 hours
4 to 6 extra large baked potatoes
8 ounces sour cream
2 tablespoons dry ranch seasoning mix
8 ounces whipped butter or margarine
3 cups fine shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh scallions
6 to 8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
Prepare outdoor grill for indirect heat by building a charcoal fire on one side of the grill, leaving the other side void. Preheat the grill to 450°F.
Wash potatoes and wrap with aluminum foil. Place wrapped potatoes over the void side of the grill, close grill lid, and cook for 1 1/2 hours or until potatoes soften. Remove potatoes and set aside.
In small bowl, mix sour cream and ranch season – ing mix.
Cut each potato open and add butter, seasoned sour cream, cheese, scallions, and bacon bits. For added impact, try topping your overstuffed potatoes with grilled chicken, turkey, beef or pork.
Grilled Gridiron Grinders
Recipe created by football analyst, Mike Golic, on behalf of Kingsford® charcoal
Makes: 6 servings Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes
12 fresh tomatillos, peeled and rinsed
1 small yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 1/2 pounds flank steak
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1 package Hidden Valley Ranch dry seasoning mix
1 pinch dried red pepper flakes (optional)
6 hamburger buns
Salsa Verde Place tomatillos, onion and garlic on a lightly oiled baking sheet and grill over charcoal, turning often, until onion is crispy and tomatillos have burst — about three to five minutes.
Remove from grill to cool. Once cool, place ingredients in work bowl of a food processor and puree until desired consis – tency. This can be done up to three days in advance if kept chilled in an air tight container.
Steak Place flank steak on a sheet of plastic wrap large enough to cover steak once folded. Season steak with salt and pepper. Liberally dust each side of steak with ranch seasoning mix, then sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if using. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for one to two hours.
Remove steak from refrig – erator about 15 minutes before grilling over charcoal.
Unwrap steak and grill over medium heat for five to seven minutes on each side or until an internal temperature of 150°F — allow the steak to rest covered for five minutes. Lightly toast hamburger rolls. Serve steak sliced over rolls and generously topped with salsa verde. To make sure you go all the way with your backyard tailgate this fall, use these winning gameday plays from Golic and Lilly:
Avoid a False Start. One of the most common mistakes made when lighting a charcoal grill is allowing the lighter fluid to soak in before light – ing the coals. Instead add lighter fluid following lighter fluid directions, lighting immediately and letting the coals burn until they are covered in ash (about 15 minutes). Or, simply light the briquets in one easy step and be ready to cook in about 10 minutes with Kingsford® Match Light® Instant Charcoal.
Cheap Shot. Feeding a crowd doesn’t have to cost a fortune. There are many flavorful, inexpensive cuts of meat to choose from that are ideal for serving to a large group. Try grilling split halves of chicken instead of chicken breasts or go with skirt steak for a good beef option.
Top Dog. Hot dogs are some of the easiest and most affordable tailgate fixings available. Try taking them to next level by topping them with gourmet homemade toppings right from the charcoal grill, such as onions, peppers or a spicy corn relish.
Lock In a Win. Closing the lid of a kettle grill is a good tactic to lock in flavors and turn up the heat. However, grillers should only close the lid when cooking thick foods and the grill temperature must be kept low to avoid burning food.
Play It Safe. When it comes to grilling, safety comes first. Make sure the grill rests securely on the ground and that it’s located away from fences, deck railings and shrubbery that could be ignited by a sudden flare-up or flying spark.
For more ways to bring the tailgate home, including additional tips and recipes from both Golic and Lilly, visit ESPN.com/Kingsford. While there, find out how to enter to win a trip for four to football’s biggest game in Miami. Mike Golic will be there, too, to hang out with the winners at a pregame tailgate.