Tailgating: My Favorite Sport | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Tailgating: My Favorite Sport

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I wasn't raised by athletic enthusiasts, and I have never engaged in the great debate that has divided Mississippi families for decades֖State vs. Ole Miss. Yet, every year we make a pilgrimage or two to Oxford. My husband, a huge Ole Miss fan, enjoys watching the game from the bleachers of Vaught-Hemingway stadium, and I appease him because heaven only knows how many sappy chick flicks this man has had to endure over the years for my sake.

Attending a football game is complete torture for me. But while I can't appreciate the ins and outs that go into making a good game, I do enjoy tailgating. I enjoy the sights, sounds, good food and camaraderie and partaking in an adult beverage (or two).

I also have learned what constitutes a good tailgating dish and what does not. I will admit my first contribution to the spread֖some dry, dense orange marmalade and dark chocolate brownies that had not been kitchen tested prior to the game֖went largely untouched. Good tailgating food can't be overly fussy, must be eaten with the fingers, and taste just as good at the end of the day as it did in the beginning.

The minute I opened my first jar of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, I smelled barbecue and knew I had to find a reason to slather this ingredient all over chicken wings. You can adjust the amount of chipotle that goes into the sauce to your preference. For wimps like me, I prefer less hot and spicy, and more sweetness. People like my husband, who live by "the hotter, the better" creedo, can increase the chipotle for more punch. Serve the wings dry with the sauce on the side, or slather them up for gooey goodness. Just be sure to keep extra napkins on hand.

Mini mufalettas actually taste better the longer they have a chance to sit. Making them the night before gives the olive salad time to soak into the bread and infuse the meat and cheese with its salty flavor. I admit that, I have occasionally used a store-bought jar of olive tapenade. I like to use mini ciabatta rolls for a small get together. For a crowd however, opt for the more economical baguette.

Olive Salad
3 cloves garlic
1 cup green olives
1 cup black olives
2 tablespoons pimentos
2 tablespoons parsley
3/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar

Combine garlic cloves, olives and pimentos in a food processor. Pulse until ingredients are coarsely chopped. If you do not have a food processor, ingredients will need to be chopped by hand. Pour in olive oil and vinegar. Continue to pulse until oil and vinegar are well incorporated. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to stand overnight.

Mini Muffalettas
Serves 6
1 long baguette (about 24 inches)
1 cups olive salad
1 pound sliced salami
1/2 pound sliced provolone cheese
1 pound sliced ham
1/2 pound sliced mozzarella cheese

Cut baguette in half lengthwise. Spread olive salad over the inside of both lengths of bread. On the bottom half, arrange salami, followed by a layer of provolone, ham, and finally mozzarella. Arrange top half of baguette over sandwich. Cut sandwich into 3-inch sections. Secure each section with a toothpick. Arrange sandwiches on a platter, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

Honey Chipotle Chicken Wings
Serves 4
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
2 pounds chicken wings (cut)
1/2 cup honey
1 to 3 1/2 tablespoons canned chipotles in adobo sauce, pureed
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, combine oil, coriander, cumin and paprika. Stir until combined. Place wings in a large bowl or Ziploc bag. Pour spice mixture over wings and toss until evenly coated. In a separate bowl, combine honey, chipotle peppers, mustard, chili powder, salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange wings on baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Baste with honey chipotle sauce, flip, and baste the other side. Cook for an additional 15-20 minutes. Alternately, prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Place chicken on heated grill and cook for 8-10 minutes. Baste with honey chipotle sauce, flip wings, and baste other side. Cook for an additional 8-10 minutes. Coat with additional honey chipotle sauce or arrange on a platter with sauce on the side.

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