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How to impress at the tailgate

Tom and Thierry agree the best asset at a tailgate is the meat. (KIRO Radio/Chris Sullivan)

Now is the time to take your grilling skills to the parking lot because it’s tailgating season.

Admittedly, world renowned chefs Tom Douglas and Thierry Rautureau have never really prepared a tailgate feast, but they have a pretty good idea of what would impress your buddies.

“I think the (Jimmy Dean) sausage ball is a treat,” Katie O. starts off in this week’s edition of KIRO Radio’s Seattle Kitchen. “I think it should be enjoyed at all sporting events.”

Thierry suggests making your own sausage or meatballs. Tom says you must use a nice ground pork and add onion and cheese.

“I love when you put cheese in your meatballs because then it kind of melts … and then it browns around the outside,” says Tom.

Thierry would gratin his meatballs, even on the back of a pickup truck in the middle of a parking lot on Montlake. But as a Frenchman, he would never add cheese. Maybe a little formage on the side.

Tom, on the other hand, would skip all that and throw a big salmon on his Weber grill.

“When you’re tailgaiting, it’s a competition. It’s just like the football game,” says Tom. “You open the top of your grill and there’s a whole freakin’ salmon. Are you kiddin’ me?”

Lately, Tom is a big fan of the Korean seaweed wrap. He says he’d make some spicy mayonnaise and add a chunk of salmon inside a wrap. “Boom!” He defends the seaweed wrap as a very mainstream, popular Korean potato chip.

Forget the wrap, Thierry says he’d bring meat on a stick to a tailgate.

“I think they’re practical when they’re done well, which means one round skewer in the middle of a cube of meat never works. You have to use two (skewers.)”

Of course, marinade the meat and make the skewers before you get to the parking lot. Thierry says he’d use little pieces of lamb, bell peppers, and eggplant. Then marinade all that the night before in olive oil, garlic, and harissa.

To make it fancy, Thierry says bring along open baguettes and a little tapenade and mustard.

The bread product usually gets the short end of a stick at things like tailgates, says Tom. Nothing ruins a good sandwich like a bad bun.

“Bring a cast iron pan and little Tupperware with Jiffy corn muffin mix.”

Put that right on the grill with a little bacon fat and you have a great piece of bread to hold everything together.

If that sounds too complicated, Thierry says just throw the bun or bread on the grill for a quick toast.

Of course, it all tastes better if the Huskies win. (or Cougars)

Whole Foods Markets are a proud sponsor of Seattle Kitchen’s Ingredient of the Week.

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