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Touchdowns and Tailgating

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

Fire up the grill for football season

For a dedicated group of RV enthusiasts, the prime location for enjoying their traveling home is the parking lots of their favorite college or NFL stadiums. Hours before the kickoff happens, dedicated fans will be setting up their grills, smokers and pop-up tents. You’ll see them starting the fires, trimming their steaks and having the time of their life. For many, they forgo the tickets of the game and stay out in the parking lot eating good food, tossing the ball around and making their parking spots an oasis of outdoor fun.

The keys to making a tailgating event work smoothly are being prepared, having everything in its place, and knowing how to work your outdoor cooking equipment. Companies like Weber, Blackstone, Camp Chef and Pit Barrel Cooker are the cooking equipment of choice for the dedicated tailgater.

Choosing Your Grill

Hands down, charcoal and propane are the kings of the fuel source while tailgating. Using an electric smoker, grill or griddle means powering up the loud generators, and unfortunately, some stadiums will not allow the use of generators in their parking lots. The exception would be a generator system that is integrated into your RV.

Charcoal Grill

KUDU Grill

Nothing compares to the rich, smoky flavor of a high-quality charcoal grill. Manufacturers like Weber, PK Grill, Kamado and Lodge corner the market with the die-hard tailgaters. They safely deliver simple, portable, easy to clean, secure cooking designs. Grilled steak, chicken wings, shrimp, vegetables and pizzas are just a few options to be had.

Propane Grills

grill on grass with burgers and buns

If you want the ease of grilling but don’t want, or are not permitted to have, an open fire, then a portable propane grill is exactly what you need. Using a propane fuel source such as those small, green propane bottles, your RV’s propane supply or bringing a 1-gallon portable propane tank will easily get the fire going and keep it good and hot. Companies like Coleman, Weber, Char-Broil and Cuisinart corner this market mainly because of their design, ease of cleanup, and nonstick surfaces. Your kebabs and skewers cook up in a minimal amount of time as well as flank steak, sausages and grilled quesadillas.


Blackstone 22” Tabletop Griddle holding sausages and burger patties

Talk about the star of tailgating! There is an absolute dedicated following for anyone who rolls out one of these cooking tools. With cooking surfaces ranging from 17 to 48 inches, anything is possible from burgers, stir-fry and cheesesteak sandwiches, to fajitas, potatoes and blackened shrimp.

The Menu

Believe it or not, the most important decision you have to make about tailgating is the cleanup. Are you serving food that needs forks, knives, platters, plates? Or can you create a menu that is focused on delicious mouthwatering finger food? My plan has always been to keep it simple and avoid dishes at all costs because there are not enough trash cans in a stadium parking lot and that means if you pack it in, you pack it out.

Plate of uncooked chicken drumsticks with seasoning

Chicken drumsticks are an all-time favorite protein for any tailgater. First, it’s a finger food, so that means no dirty dishes! Second, it’s a cut of chicken that is all dark meat meaning it is full of delicious flavor and the chances of that meat drying out while you are grilling it is very slim. Now, to help keep all that beautiful chicken flavor and lessen your chance of the drumsticks drying out, try wet brining them a few hours before grilling. You can do this at your home the night before and then remove the drumsticks from the brine and place them in your ice chest just before you head to the fun.

The fantastic bit about chicken is that it will take just about any spice, herb or marinade you put on it from basic salt and pepper to a 16-ingredient homemade curry powder, it’s all up to you. I have created a sweet, spicy and delicious Asian-style marinade that will be the perfect main dish for your tailgating experience. Some suggested grilled sides would be: grilled broccoli, onions, zucchini, green onions, bok choy and edamame. If you want to break out the plates and cutlery, then pair with a cold Asian noodle salad, smashed sweet-and-spicy cucumber salad or even a mango coleslaw. Enjoy this recipe and experiment with it. I love marinating pork tenderloin, flank steak, skirt steak and turkey breasts with it. It makes an amazing dipping sauce for kebabs, pot stickers and sauce for fried rice.

Plate of cooked chicken drumsticks and salad with silverwear

Asian Citrus, Cilantro and Spice Grilled Drumsticks


1½ to 2 pounds trimmed chicken drumsticks (about 10 to 12)


1 cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1  1-inch piece of ginger, finely chopped

6 garlic cloves, chopped

1 shallot, finely chopped

½ cup water

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup honey

4 limes, 2 zested and juiced, remaining 2 limes halved for grilling

1 serrano chili sliced in fine rounds, do not remove seeds

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

In a medium-sized bowl add in all the ingredients and mix well, remove ¼ cup of the marinade and place in the fridge. This will be your glaze while cooking the chicken.

In a large zip-top bag add all the chicken drumsticks and carefully pour the marinade over the chicken. Seal bag and place on a sheet pan or in a baking dish and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.

Preheat grill for an indirect cooking method, scrape down the grill grate and lightly oil before placing the chicken on for cooking.

Remove chicken from bag, pat dry with a paper towel and discard marinade.

Place chicken on the cool side of the preheated grill, place lid on the barbecue and open all vents. After 15 minutes remove the lid, move the drumsticks to the hot side of the barbecue and grill for 2 minutes, turn chicken over and grill 2 minutes. Do this step two more times for a total of 8 minutes.

Move the drumsticks to the cool side and baste with reserved marinade. Close lid and cook for 10 minutes. With your instant-read thermometer, check internal temperature for doneness. Insert the probe in the thickest part of the meat; you are looking for an internal temperature of 165 to 170 degrees. If they are not at temp, close the lid of the grill 10 more minutes, test the temp again and continue to cook until the desired temperature is reached.

Baste the drumsticks one more time just before moving them onto a clean platter, give them a 10-minute rest and enjoy.

Woman holding sheet of baked bread smilingKate Dunbar has always had a passion for food. Growing up in a farming family, she took the statement “love your farmer” to heart. Now a published cookbook author, Kate has a mission is to show how delicious and simple outdoor cooking can be. Spending time at the campground started with her grandparents and now continues with her family as they travel all over the United States in search of food, fun and the joy of the open road.


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