With University of Minnesota Gophers’ football back on campus this season for the first time since 1982, there’s no better way to celebrate, or tailgate, than with an all maroon and gold menu. From brunch through dinner, from corn and bacon bites appetizers to lemon curd with raspberry dessert tart-lets, the Heavy Table has it covered.
A few key ground rules established by the U of M for tailgating bear mentioning:
- Gas grills are permitted, but charcoal grills are not. If you can afford the splurge (consider it an investment), we like Weber’s Q-100 Portable Gas Grill, available on Amazon.com for $140. The grill is compact, but is sturdy, with a porcelain-enameled cast-iron grate, and uses standard, easy-to-find 14.1- or 16.4-ounce propane “camping stove” cylinders. It also uses a disposable aluminum drip-pan, which makes for easy clean-up. If you want to upgrade, you can get the version with “wings” to have a handy place to set your tongs, or your beer. You’ll want to allow a half-hour for the grill to cool sufficiently before you can put it back in your car and leave for the game.
- No glass of any kind is permitted, so break out the plastic or disposable dinnerware. Target usually has a good selection of plastic dinnerware. Williams-Sonoma has an attractive line of outdoor glassware.
- No kegs or large quantity containers of alcoholic beverages permitted. So, you’ll need to serve your cocktails out of a plastic pitcher or bring a cooler with ice to store your cans of beer. You’ll want a cooler for all your food anyway. Collapsible chairs and folding card tables are nice to have, too.
- The University provides plastic bags for recycling and for trash.
Breakfast Menu for Morning Games:
– Pineapple Orange Mimosas (mix on site; garnish with fresh raspberries or pomegranate seeds when in season)
– Coffee (prepare at home; bring in a thermos)
– Mario Batali’s Eggs in Hell (prepare mixture at home; grill on-site — see recipe below)
– Bacon (par-cook at home; reheat on grill on site)
– Martha Stewart’s Grilled French Toast ( prepare at home and soak overnight; grill on site on cast-iron griddle, cast-iron pan, or Gophers Grill Topper Block M “burger” version. Heat cast iron to high, then lower heat to medium to griddle toast) with raspberry sauce OR
– Raspberry Corn Muffins (bake at home)
Lunch or Dinner Menu for Afternoon or Evening Games:
– Lemon Crisp Cocktail (winner, creative mixology, Crispin Cocktail contest) (mix on site, garnish with fresh raspberries or pomegranate seeds when in season)
– Corn and Bacon Bites (prepare mixture at home; assemble on site)
– Piri Piri Grilled Shrimp on skewers with red and yellow bell peppers (marinate at home night before; grill on site) with Mango Puree OR
– Hot dogs or brats, prepared using the Gophers’ Grill Topper (read our review and recommendations for local sources of dogs and sausages here). (Serve with sauteed sliced onions and red and yellow bell peppers; slice at home, saute on site on a griddle or cast-iron skillet)
– Mario Batali’s “Borlotti Beans with Balsamic Vinegar” (prepare at home night before — see recipe below)
– Giada’s Saffron Orzo (prepare at home, ideally morning of) or, as the weather cools, Butternut Squash Soup with Red Pepper Puree (prepare at home night before; bring in a Thermos)
– No-Bake Lemon Berry Tartlets with fresh raspberry garnish (assemble at home or on site using either homemade or store-bought lemon curd and pre-made ready-to-fill shells. We used Clearbrook Farms’ Mini Bite-Size Sweet Tart Shells available at Lunds and Kowalski’s. )
Mario Batali’s Eggs in Hell
Adapted from Mario Batali’s cookbook “Mario Tailgates NASCAR Style,” these eggs are poached in a spicy tomato sauce. If you’re a “maroon” fanatic like me, add a tablespoon or so of blueberry juice (or blue food dye if you prefer) to turn the tomato sauce from red to maroon. Add a second pinch of red pepper flakes, and / or a shake of Tabasco sauce to compensate for the added sweetness. Cooking times vary based on the weather and your grill, so, be patient.
4 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
1 tsp (or more) red pepper flakes
3 c basic tomato sauce (we cheated and used Lunds & Byerly’s San Marzano Tomato & Basil Starter Sauce. Cheating permitted only off the field.)
Optional: 1-2 tbsp blueberry juice, additional tsp red pepper flakes, and shake of Tabasco sauce
8 large eggs
¼ c grated Parmesan cheese
(Can be done a day or two before)
- Prepare basic tomato sauce. If desired, add blueberry juice, extra red pepper flakes, shake of Tabasco to tomato sauce.
- Chop vegetables.
- Set gas grill to medium-high to heat cast-iron skillet.
- Add olive oil and heat until smoking.
- Add onion, garlic, jalapeño, and red pepper flakes. Cook about 7 minutes, until vegetables are softened and Golden Gophers golden.
- Add blueberry juice, extra red pepper flakes, and shake of Tabasco to tomato sauce.
- Add tomato sauce. Bring to a boil.
- Lower heat to simmer, then crack eggs, one by one, into the sauce.
- Cook 5-6 minutes or until eggs are set.
- Remove from heat. Sprinkle on the cheese.
- Allow to cool 3-4 minutes.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
Corn and Bacon Bites
Inspired by Katie Cannon’s Grilled Corn Salad with Bacon Relish and by Anne Burrell’s Grilled Corn, Bacon and Chile Crostini, this recipe calls for frozen corn (unless you can find some late-season sweet corn) and is served in crispy hors d’oeuvres shells for ease of serving and eating.
1½ c frozen corn, cooked according to directions on package
1 tbsp olive oil
4 strips bacon, cooked, then finely chopped
pinch red pepper flakes
pinch of sea salt
3 to 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias
Crispy hors d’oeuvres shells (we used Siljans Croustades Crispy Shells, available at Lunds).
(Can be done the night before)
- Cook corn according to package instructions. Drain.
- Cook bacon until not quite crispy. Drain grease, then chop bacon.
- In a saute pan, add olive oil and bring to medium heat. Add bacon. When the bacon is browned and crispy, add the corn and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
- Season with salt and stir in the vinegar.
- Stir in the scallions. Remove from the heat.
- Arrange crispy shells on serving tray.
- Spoon corn filling into each shell.
Batali’s Borlotti Beans with Balsamic Vinegar
Adapted from Batali’s “Mario Tailgates NASCAR Style,” this recipe couldn’t be easier. Great balsamic vinegar and fresh rosemary are musts.
2 12-oz cans kidney beans
¼ c extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
½ tsp pepper, freshly-ground
Salt, to taste
At home, the night before:
- Gently rinse beans in a colander. Drain.
- In a large bowl, combine the beans, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, rosemary, and black pepper.
- Season with salt, to taste.
- Refrigerate one to 12 hours.
Still hungry? They do serve food (but not beer!) at TCF Bank Stadium; Mayslack’s garlic roast beef sandwich is fantastic if you can bear the long line (there appear to be no cash registers at TCF Bank Stadium). There are plenty of restaurants in Stadium Village and Dinkytown eager to serve you.