When it comes to gearing up for football season, Jeff Newman of Blue Door Smokehouse knows a thing or two about how to make your football tailgate great.
Newman, a University of Kentucky fan, used to love to tailgate with his friends. Then, he and Jon Rigsby opened their popular Lexington barbecue joint and Saturdays began to blur with every other day of cooking meat.
His suggestions for tailgating as best he can remember?
“It’s all about being low and slow, and having fun,” Newman said. “Whether you’re going to do barbecue or something else, be prepared; don’t come out and realize you forgot charcoal.”
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Newman has some tips on how you can make your tailgate enjoyable.
▪ Make a plan and then delegate. If you’re doing the meat, then have someone else do the sides, the utensils, the drinks, etc.
“That way you don’t end up with all this food and no forks to eat it with,” Newman said.
▪ If you’re committed to cooking, he said, don’t make it too complicated. The secret to Blue Door’s succulent beef brisket is that they smoke the fattier part of the meat with the leaner, so it self-bastes and doesn’t dry out.
You want to be able to enjoy your Saturday, not be glued to the grill tending to something that takes all your attention. Instead of grilling expensive steaks, which can be unforgiving to the inattentive cook, cook burgers and brats.
And they keep the meat seasoning simple: just salt and pepper, which lets the beefy flavor come through.
If you want something you can put on the grill and forget, go for chicken thighs, he said. “You can go catch the game, come back out and they’re still OK,” Newman said.
▪ If you aren’t wedded to doing it all yourself, get a tailgate package from a local restaurant and focus on presentation. Blue Door has one. But so do many other Lexington restaurants and groceries.
Want a delicious cheese and meat platter? Try The Mousetrap in Lansdowne Shoppes at 3323 Tates Creek Road. Looking for crawfish etouffee? How about Gumbo Ya Ya at 1080 S. Broadway or 294 E. Brannon Road in Nicholasville ?
Hot chicken what you’re looking for? Try Joella’s Hot Chicken at 101 Cochran Road and don’t forget to pick up some banana pudding.
Just pick up the food and take it all to the stadium, or to Keeneland, for that matter, if you’re heading to The Hill before the races.
▪ This year’s go-to accessory for tailgating: the UK Crock-Pot. It’s six quarts, programmable and has a locking lid so it can be carried to the stadium. You can cook in it and then keep your food warm while you watch the game.
It’s about $50 and available from Walmart, Target, Amazon, Macy’s and Kohl’s, according to a news release.
▪ Another tailgating option would do it all for you: New this year with the sponsorship of the University of Kentucky football stadium, Kroger is hosting the Kroger Tailgating Experience.
Before each home game at Kroger Field, Kroger will have a free VIP experience on the lawn next to Bluegrass Technical and Community College for customers who spend more than $100 the week prior to the game.
Present your receipts at the entrance and you will get entry for up to four people; the area will have free food and drinks but it’s open only for the first 500 fans.
Inside Kroger Field, free water will be available to fans on both the lower and upper concourse; there will be four larger water tanks and fans can fill up cups. Concession stands at Kroger Field also will offer Kroger Meal Deal packages of fan favorites and new healthy snack options from Simple Truth.
And you can get priority entry into the stadium at Gate 6 with canned goods that will be donated to God’s Pantry Food Bank.