WASHINGTON — Only three things are guaranteed to start an argument: politics, religion and chili.
Since the only one that really matters at a tailgate is the chili, I’ll limit my remarks to that.
There are as many styles and flavors of chili as there are chili cooks. But the truth is when it is cold at a tailgate, there is nothing better.
An old fraternity brother of mine has a pot that hangs off a tripod and has a hot green chili recipe that is second to none. He sets it up over a wood fire and cooks it in the parking lot. It has a great smell and a great taste, but is a lot of work.
I would lean more toward bringing a sealed pot of chili cooked the day before and reheating on the grill. As I said, there are thousands of different flavors and styles. I think the more basic you go, leaving lots of options open, will please the most.
Personally, I like having ground sausage, ground beef and chili beans in my chili. Some like it thick and many here in Indiana put spaghetti in a more thin chili soup. I say make it basic, and let people doctor it up the way they like.
If you have some cut up onion, two kinds of shredded cheese, cut up jalapeno, hot sauce, oyster crackers and or Ritz crackers, then in essence you have created a chili bar that will satisfy everyone. You want more heat? Add more hot sauce.
Have plenty of styrofoam cups and plastic spoons on hand, because you will draw a crowd. If it is less than 60 degrees outside, chili is my first choice.
Drink of the Week
For the drink this week, I have picked one that I first had at the “Oyster Bowl,” a game played between Virginia Military Institute and William and Mary at Old Dominion Stadium in Norfolk back in the mid-80s.
It is called a Rocky Mountain Oyster Bowl cocktail:
Squeeze about an ounce of prepared (shrimp) cocktail sauce into a glass, shuck in one fresh raw oyster. Squeeze a little lemon in and add 12 oz. of Coors (hence, the Rocky Mountain part of the equation). Drink it slowly until you get to the oyster and sauce and then do it like a shooter.
If oysters are hard to come by (and for the most part they are around here), you can substitute cooked shrimp to roughly duplicate the flavor, but it is not the same.
Tips for the Week
• The Swiss Army knife. There are a million things that can go wrong at a tailgate and the Swiss Army knife can help you fix most of them. Hey, there is a reason no one wants to fight the Swiss Army. Have one in the pocket and one in your glove box.
• You don’t have to spend a ton of money on cornhole. If you are handy, you can build a really nice board that will cost a lot less than some of the cheaply made “officially licensed” boards. It is a good idea to have extra cornhole bags on hand. I know some people who have had the same well-made boards for 25 years.
• Don’t forget about breakfast foods. Cinnamon rolls, coffee and bacon will give you the best smelling tailgate, especially if it is an 11 a.m. kick off.