4 easy recipes for tailgating this fall
With tailgate season now in goal line formation, it’s time to raise our grilling game.
Weber Culinary Director Jamie Purviance, a graduate of Stanford University, has hosted his share of tailgate parties. So we asked the world-renowned grilling expert to share a few of his helpful hints along with some bold-flavored recipes from his latest grilling guide, “Weber’s Ultimate Grilling: A Step-by-Step Guide to Barbecue Genius” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019).
“There’s a certain competitiveness among tailgate parties,” Purviance said in a phone interview from his home in El Dorado Hills. “Some people come and bring the sandwich platter from Safeway - they are considered inferior. Then there are the guys with the big roasts and cuts of steaks - this helps you qualify as a legitimate, big-time tailgater.”
In his new cookbook, Purviance helps readers up their game through the four T’s of grilling - temperature, timing, technique and tools - then puts their acumen to the test with his 10 BBQ Genius Recipes, which tackle the most popular grilled foods, from chicken wings to rib-eye steaks, along with nearly 100 other recipes.
“It’s essentially a technique book in the guise of a recipe book,” he said. “Every recipe is meant to be an illustration of a technique that is worth knowing. The best way to do that is to lay out step-by-step photos.”
Kim Laidlaw of Petaluma, who served as project manager for the book, did some recipe testing and set up the photo shoots, including hundreds of “how to” photos as well as finished food shots.
“This is my 17th book on grilling and barbecue, so it’s been a pretty deep dive,” Purviance said. “In the course of writing all the other books, I kept hearing ‘We really want the pictures. … We want to know the finer details of how the techniques work, both on and off the grill.’ ”
After graduating from Stanford, Purviance worked as an English teacher for several years, including a gig in Jakarta, Indonesia, where his fascination with grilling really took hold.
“Most homes have a giant hearth outside, fueled by wood or charcoal,” he said. “I was totally drawn to it. … When I came back, I wanted to go into it and learn how to do it well, so I went to the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park.”
For many years, Purviance and his wife held season tickets to the Stanford Cardinal football games, where he was able to practice and refine his tailgating strategy before the games.
His most important first tip for wannabe grillmeisters is to do 80% of the work at home and leave the other 20% for the stadium, where you don’t have the space or the convenience of a home kitchen.
“You basically want to bring everything in coolers to the stadium, ready to put on the grill,” he said. “That lends itself to a much more enjoyable experience.”
His other rule of thumb is to always have something to serve your friends when they arrive at the parking lot, your own backyard or your driveway.
As a welcome dish, Purviance suggested grilling off his Maple-Bourbon Chicken Wings in advance, then wrapping them in foil and having them ready to go or ready to quickly reheat. For this “genius’ recipe, he explains the importance of controlling the heat with both direct and indirect areas.
“A lot of people do wings entirely over direct or indirect heat,” he said. “You either get burned wings if you do it over direct or flabby chicken skin if you do them over indirect.”
Instead, Purviance starts the wings over direct heat to get the skin crispy, then finishes them over indirect heat, where he can brush them with sauce and not worry about the sauce burning.
Another appetizer that is a game changer is his Grilled Onion and Sour Cream Dip with potato chips, a crafty update of the classic onion dip that gets dumped out of an envelope into a bowl of sour cream.
“The key here is to use a big grill pan so you can get the onions in a single layer,” he said. “The caramelized onion flavor is another level above. … It feels homemade and less chemical. There’s a little more texture to it.”
For the main entree, Purviance suggested going for the end zone. His recipe for Porterhouse Steaks with Board Sauce provides an easy technique for upping the flavor of the deluxe steak, which features a New York strip on one side and a buttery filet mignon on the other.
You can make the sauce in advance - a Mediterranean mix of shallots, capers, lemon zest, basil, rosemary, olive oil and balsamic - then dump it out on your cutting board.
“When the steak comes off the grill, you just coat the surface with the sauce and turn it back and forth as it rests,” he said. “Then you cut into it, and it’s ready to go. … It definitely makes a statement.”