Tailgating tastes: From restaurant menus to easy quick fix brand favorites, great game day options score big points

2013-10-09T00:00:00Z 2013-10-16T15:40:10Z Tailgating tastes: From restaurant menus to easy quick fix brand favorites, great game day options score big pointsBy Philip Potempa philip.potempa@nwi.com, (219) 852-4327 nwitimes.com

Ideal tailgating fun need not be weather temperature dependent.

At least, that's the opinion of specialty chef Erik Keever at Blue Chip Casino, Hotel and Spa in Michigan City, who is responsible for the array of sporting fun foods offered at The Game sports eatery located on property.

The ease of ordering delectable favorites by simply pointing to a menu, surrounded by large screen televisions at every turn, offers some tough competition to the traditional outdoor worries of finding a parking place and hauling all of the cuisine and entertaining needs to the great outdoors.

Keever and executive chef Patrick Higgins spent much of their summer fine-tuning a new packed menu featuring a variety of indoor tailgating specialty items in all categories from appetizers to desserts.

"We want to bring something unique to diners," Keever said.

"Just like any tailgating party, surprising your guests is part of the fun."

From Frickles, which Keever explained were pickle chips (made in-house) served with a Dijon aioli sauce to loaded nachos, featuring a pico de gallo-style fire-roasted salsa and cilantro lime sour cream there are many surprises.

Keever likes to surprise tastebuds and has made it his trademark to dream up innovative takes on traditional fare, like his PB & J Burger slathered with peanut butter and also his "bacon jam" on top of an Angus beef patty. His Reuben Hot Dog is a Vienna beef dog adorned with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing.

Jonathen Marek, 18, of Valparaiso, said tailgating and "planned provisions" when dining in a parking lot need to be as easy as possible so there are fewer distractions from the game.

"I was recently at a college football game for Oklahoma State and some people really get elaborate," he said.

"But for me, easier is always better and now, there are many quick, ready-made items to include with menus."

One area he refuses to "skimp on" are hot dogs, and lists Ball Park Angus Beef Franks as a ranking favorite.

His other favorite recent find is another line from Ball Park for  Flame Grilled Patties that are fully-cooked and available in three varieties: Beef, Beef and Onion and Beef and Cheese.

"It's a flame-grilled taste and without the grill, they can be made in a microwave for about a minute and come out as a juicy burger," he said.

"All the effort goes in how you dress up the burgers and hot dogs with toppings."

Easy Chicago Burger

1 Ball Park Flame Grilled Beef Patty

1 large hamburger bun with poppy seeds

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

2 teaspoons bright green pickle relish

1 slice white or yellow onion

1 slice beefsteak tomato

2-3 dill pickle chips

2 sport peppers

1 pinch celery salt

DIRECTIONS: Place beef patty on a microwave-safe plate and cover with a paper towel. Microwave on high power for 65-75 seconds, or until hot. Remove paper towel and let burger rest 60 seconds. Place patty onto bottom bun. Top with mustard, relish, onion, tomato, pickle and peppers. Sprinkle with celery salt. Add top half of bun. Makes a 1 sandwich serving.

Recipe courtesy of Ball Park

Nacho Hot Dogs

4 Ball Park Franks

4 Sara Lee Hot Dog Buns

1/2 cup prepared queso cheese sauce from a jar, heated

2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno peppers

1/2 cup flavored tortilla chips, crushed

DIRECTIONS: Prepare franks according to package directions. Fill each bun with a frank. Top each with 1/4 of heated cheese sauce, jalapeño peppers and crushed tortilla chips. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Recipe courtesy of Ball Park

Stuffed Ball Park Franks

1 (8 count) package Ball Park Angus Beef Franks

2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard

8 slices pre-cooked bacon

1 package Sara Lee Soft and Smooth Made with Whole Grain White Hot Dog Buns

DIRECTIONS: Preheat broiler on High. Combine mustard, cheddar cheese, Worcestershire sauce and dry mustard in a small bowl.

Slit the hot dogs lengthwise down the center, forming a deep pocket, but not cutting all the way through. Fill pockets with cheese mixture. Wrap a slice of bacon around each frank and secure both ends with wooden toothpicks. Place on broiler pan.

Broil for 4 to 6 minutes or until bacon is crisp and cheese is melted. Serve in a bun.

Recipe courtesy of Ball Park

Oktoberfest Burger

1 Ball Park Flame Grilled Beef patty

1 traditional pretzel roll (with a salted top)

1/4 cup fully drained sauerkraut

1 – 2 onion slices

1 – 2 teaspoons margarine or butter

1 slice of Swiss cheese

German style mustard

DIRECTIONS: Heat beef patty following package directions. Melt the butter in a small fry pan. Add the sauerkraut and onion slices. Cook over medium heat until the onion is soft and slightly browned and the sauerkraut is just a little brown. Place patty on the bottom of the pretzel roll, top with the sauerkraut/onion mixture and cover with slice of Swiss cheese. Spread a little German mustard on the inside of the pretzel roll top, place on top of the cheese. Makes a 1 sandwich serving.

Recipe courtesy of Ball Park

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