As freezing temperatures hold steady across Minnesota with no sign of relenting, outdoor baseball might not seem like a plausible weekend option. Fans of the St. Paul Saints, however, saw things differently this weekend at the second annual Crispin Cider Iceball Adventure Series.
They gathered early to listen to the sounds of the Spectaculars while heating grills for cooking (and much-needed warmth). The smell of tailgating delicacies permeated the air and the camaraderie of the crowd made thoughts of any frozen fingers and toes retreat to the back of most people’s minds. The Heavy Table’s Ashley Laflin had the good fortune to judge the tailgating competition; she teamed up with co-judge John Schumacher, director of food and beverage for the Goldklang Group, which manages the St. Paul Saints. As the dishes neared completion, the two made the rounds to taste and judge participants’ creations.
Tailgaters prepared everything from chili dip to kobe beef sirloin to beer-battered venison. The dish that came out on top, however, was the reuben-inspired Al Franken Brat created by the Wood family (recipe below). The brat was wrapped in bacon and grilled to perfection; it was then topped with sauerkraut, homemade Thousand Island dressing, and a sprinkle of Swiss cheese. The tang of the dressing and sauerkraut complemented the rich, smoky bratwurst. This winning combination will be served at a St. Paul Saints exhibition game in May. Both Bob Roth and Jim Mansfred came away with honorable mentions – Roth for his shrimp in Crispin coconut sauce and Mansfred for his caught-fresh-that-morning fish battered in Summit.
As the tailgating festivities came to a close, fans moved into the stadium to watch the Saints battle the St. Croix Base Ball Club in a gloveless baseball game. Fun and zany activities and competitions, a staple of St. Paul Saints games, punctuated the innings.
The crowd at the game exemplified the Minnesotan spirit – warm, friendly, and generous, even amid sub-freezing temperatures. While the game provided a much needed dose of fun to winter-weary fans, it provided something even more important to the surrounding community: Proceeds and donations collected during the event went to Second Harvest Heartland, the fourth largest Feeding America-member food bank in the United States. In addition, fans also donated jackets and other clothing to Joseph’s Coat.
The “Al Franken” Reuben Brat
1 c sauerkraut
½ c mayonnaise
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp malt vinegar
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp sweet pickle relish
1 tsp yellow onion
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Fine sea salt and pepper to taste
6 fully cooked Von Hanson’s bratwurst
16 oz pkg hardwood smoked bacon
8 ct pkg hot dog buns
Shredded Swiss cheese, to garnish
Place sauerkraut in a cheesecloth and squeeze out juice into a bowl.
Combine the mayonnaise, ketchup, vinegar, sugar, relish, onion, and salt and pepper. Add the sauerkraut and stir until mixed well. Allow to chill for at least one hour.
Wrap each brat with 1-2 strips of bacon.
Start the grill and cook brats over medium heat, so the bacon does not blacken.
Place brats in the buns, spread with the reuben topping and sprinkle with Swiss cheese.