Football season is once again in full swing. With two professional, numerous collegiate and hundreds of high school and amateur teams here in Southern California, fans shouldn't find any shortage of games to attend.
For many, part of the fun of going to watch a game is the tailgate picnic enjoyed prior to kickoff. In fact, dedicated tailgaters insist there's a certain magic about celebrating pregame festivities with good friends and delicious food.
These picnics can be as simple or elegant as you like. They can be fully prepared at home and simply toted to the game, or basic preparation can be done ahead and the finishing touches added just before serving. Even portable grills can be taken along if you want to do some cooking.
Franks With a Twist
Tailgate Franks 'n Beans are served in warm buns and topped with a spicy chili bean sauce, shredded Cheddar cheese, chopped tomato and sliced green onions. The sauce should be prepared in advance and carried to the game in a thermos. Toppings, too, can be assembled at home.
Grill the frankfurters and heat the buns at the game site, then add the sauce and toppings. Tortilla chips make a good accompaniment, along with some fresh fruit. With brownies or cookies for dessert guests will be off to the game with a satisfied smile.
A spinoff of traditional Italian antipasto salad, Tailgate Antipasto combines brightly colored vegetables, marinated artichoke hearts, sardines, sliced cheese and meat. Complete this picnic with a thermos of steaming, creamy tomato soup and chunks of French bread.
Wine Braised Sausage en Brioche is on the elegant end of the scale. The meat is wrapped in a delicate pastry and baked until golden. Marinated Zucchini Salad makes an ideal accompaniment to the make-ahead menu.
Crunchy Chicken Coating
Chicken is another popular picnic item. Give it a twist with the recipe for Orange-Almond Chicken. The poultry is dipped in a butter and orange juice concentrate mixture, then rolled in almonds and bread crumbs to provide a crispy, crunchy texture.
A pleasant contrast is provided with Picnic Macaroni Salad. It's a light, cool alternative to potato salad and features ingredients most cooks have on hand in the pantry or refrigerator.
Another feast with style begins with a savory smooth pate. Prepare it a day ahead to allow the flavors to blend. Serve with crackers or crusty French bread and small, tart cornichon pickles.
Pair the pate with fresh fruit and cheese. Spirited Brie is a delicious variation that is marinated in brandy and topped with powdered sugar and toasted almonds.
TAILGATE FRANKS 'N BEANS
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 (15 3/4-ounce) can chili beans
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
8 to 10 frankfurter buns, split
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 large tomato, chopped
3 green onions, cut into thin slices
1 pound frankfurters
Saute onion in butter in large skillet pan. Add chili beans, tomato sauce, chili powder, sugar, garlic and nutmeg. Cover and cook slowly 12 to 15 minutes. Transport in preheated thermos.
Wrap frankfurter buns in foil. Place shredded cheese, chopped tomato and green onions in individual plastic bags or small containers.
Place frankfurters and buns (in foil) on grill over ash-covered coals 3 to 4 inches from heat. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Heat tomato-chili bean sauce on grill, if desired. Serve frankfurters in buns. Spoon sauce over and top with cheese, tomato and green onions. Makes 8 to 10 sandwiches.
1 (16-ounce) jar pickled mixed vegetables, drained
1 (6-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts
2 (3 3/4-ounce) cans sardines in oil, drained
2 ounces sliced salami
2 ounces sliced provolone cheese
Combine vegetables and artichoke hearts with their marinade. Add 1 can sardines and toss lightly. Place in plastic bag or container. Package salami, cheese and lettuce in separate plastic bags or containers.
At serving time, line platter or basket with lettuce leaves. Arrange salami, cheese and sardine-vegetable mixture over top. Serve with remaining sardines. Makes 4 servings.
WINE BRAISED SAUSAGE
1 3/4 pounds pork chops
1/2 pound salt pork
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 shallot, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 cup red wine
1 package dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter or margarine, cut into 8 pieces
1 egg yolk
Cut meat and fat from chops. Rinse salt pork in water to remove excess salt. Cut meat, fat and salt pork into 1-inch cubes. Place in food processor fitted with metal blade and process until ground.
Place in large bowl. Add seasoned salt, pepper, shallot, garlic, parsley and bread crumbs. Mix well and chill 30 minutes.
Form sausage mixture into 10-inch long roll. Wrap in cheesecloth, then foil. Refrigerate overnight.