With the NFL preseason well underway, and what’s arguably the best first week of college football in history set to kick-off next week, it’s time to start thinking about tailgating.
In the South, that mostly means barbecue and sides. But what about snacks and dessert that can go on the grill, too?
With that in mind, we asked Jonathan and Justin Fox of Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q to help us come up with a game-day plan.
We thought that was fitting because the Texas-raised identical twin brothers not only co-own and operate one of Atlanta’s most popular restaurants and catering businesses, but Fox Bros. is the “Official Bar-B-Q of the Atlanta Falcons” with a location in the Georgia Dome.
And though they’ve been known to bring some barbecue to the James Beard House, they started out as home cooks, hosting backyard parties and tailgating to test out their recipes.
“Tailgating means you’re getting there before the game starts,” Justin said. “But you don’t want to be cooking the whole time. You want to relax and have fun, too. You need to keep it simple, prep things ahead, and be ready to Rise Up.”
“You want it to be easy, but you also want it to be good,” Jonathan said. “Keep it innovative and rotate your menus. A lot of our original recipes started at our house during football season. Our smoked wings and wing sauce were created that way.
“Barbecue just goes with football. But we like to play with it and use it in other ways. You can use pork or brisket that you have left over to make some fun, imaginative finger food. And, of course, we’re from Texas, so we like to play with Tex-Mex stuff.”
One of those things is queso fundido, made on the grill with Mexican cheese and charred green onions, then loaded onto grilled flour tortillas and folded together with salsa.
“Everybody thinks of queso or cheese dip, but this is different and better,” Jonathan said. “It’s a different kind of cheese that’s nice and stringy and buttery, it’s easy to make, and people love it.”
Another new favorite is a Tex-Mex variation on the Fox Bros. famous Frito Pie, made with saucy pork green chile instead of brisket.
“Frito Pie has become our No. 1 seller,” Jonathan said. “Going into the fall, it’s green chile season, and Hatch chiles have become pretty readily available, so doing a pork green chile is a nice little twist on the recipe. And you can top it with all kinds of good stuff.”
The surprise recipe came from Justin in the form of an upside-down cake that’s cooked on the grill in ramekins. Dubbed the Dirty Bird, it’s layered with fresh raspberries and blackberries to emulate the Falcons colors.
“That one was a punt, but it worked out pretty well,” Justin said. “It’s a recipe that I tried before using a Big Green Egg, but I kind of gave it a Falcons theme. If you’re already grilling on a Big Green Egg, you can hold the temperature and it’s like an oven. So you can make a sweet little Dirty Bird ending to a day of tailgating.”
These tasty tailgating recipes for snacks and dessert from Jonathan and Justin Fox of Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q focus on fun stuff to nosh before and after the traditional game-day barbecue feast.
Grilled Queso Fundido With Charred Green Onions
You can do this recipe on a gas grill, but the grilled onions work best on a charcoal grill. Once your coals get glowing hot, add the grill grate and get to work on this Tex-Mex favorite.
24 ounces Oaxaca cheese, diced
16 ounces Chihuahua cheese, grated
1 large bunch green onions
juice of 1 lime
1 package good quality flour tortillas, heated
salsa to taste
Preheat grill to glowing hot. Brush the green onions with olive oil, giving them a light, even coating. Place on the grill to char, turning as needed.
Once the green onions have a nice char, remove them and place them on a sheet of foil, squeeze the lime juice over the onions, then season with salt. Wrap in foil for 5-10 mins, until the onions are tender and cool, and dice them.
Spray a cast iron skillet with cooking spray. Add the cheeses and green onions and mix together until combined.
Place the skillet with the cheese mixture on the grill, and cover with a lid for 5 minutes. Check periodically during this time depending on the heat of your grill. When the cheese is melted and bubbly, remove from heat. Spoon cheese onto hot tortillas, add your favorite salsa and enjoy!
Additions: Add cooked chorizo before melting. Or make it boozy by pouring on a shot of Tequila once the cheese is melted and off the grill. Light it on fire to make Queso Flameado!
375 calories (percent of calories from fat, 74), 23 grams protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, trace fiber, 31 grams fat (19 grams saturated), 90 milligrams cholesterol, 539 milligrams sodium.
Pork Green Chile Frito Pie
This easy dish for a tailgate is a different take on the classic Frito Pie the Fox Bros. grew up with and serve at their restaurant. You can make the chili at home ahead of time and either take it hot and ready to serve or cold to reheat on the grill at the game.
1/4 pound butter (one stick)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 cup diced white onion
1 jalapeno diced (with or without seeds)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup masa corn flour to make a roux
2 quarts chicken stock
1 1/2 cups chopped roasted green chiles, such as Hatch or Anaheim, fresh or canned and drained
1/2 pound rough chopped smoked pork (Fox Bros works best here!)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup masa flour mixed with warm water to form a slurry
12 2-ounce bags of Fritos
shredded cheese, diced onions jalapenos, sour cream, pico de gallo, guacamole or
other toppings to taste
In a heavy bottom pot over medium heat, add the butter and allow it to melt. Add onion, garlic and jalapeno, season with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder and saute until softened. Add 1/4 cup masa, work it into the mixture and cook for 1-2 minutes maximum. Add the 2 quarts chicken stock and 1 1/2 cups chopped roasted green chiles. Stir until well incorporated. Bring to a simmer and add the 1/2 pound rough-chopped smoked pork, 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, 1/2 tablespoon black pepper, 1/2 tablespoon onion powder, 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder and 1 teaspoon cumin.
Bring to a boil, add the masa slurry to finish, and stir until smooth.
To Serve: Cut open a 2-ounce bag of Fritos, top with green pork chile and add toppings to taste.
502 calories (percent of calories from fat, 50), 18 grams protein, 51 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 30 grams fat (8 grams saturated), 34 milligrams cholesterol, 1,166 milligrams sodium.
Dirty Bird Upside Down Cake
This easy, do-ahead tailgate dessert works well on a Big Green Egg or a kettle grill with a lid. The cake batter can be prepared the morning of, poured into an airtight container and stored inside a cooler. If you do that, remove the batter from the cooler 30 minutes before finishing on the grill or add 5-10 minutes to the cook time. Double or triple the recipe to make more cake.
For the berries:
1/2 pint raspberries
1/2 pint blackberries
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons brown sugar
For the cake batter:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Prepare 4 6-ounce ramekins with 1/2 tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of brown sugar and set aside.
In a bowl, mix the raspberries and blackberries with the sugar, zest and juice of lemon, salt and vanilla and set aside for a few minutes. After they have marinated, divide about 3 of each berry between the ramekins.
In a bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. In a separate bowl mix the sugar, vanilla and buttermilk and then add the wet mix to the dry mix and whisk till it’s just combined like pancake batter. Pour the batter over the berry mixture in the ramekin to just under the top.
To grill, move coals to one side of the grill and bring temp up to 350 degrees.
Place ramekins on the opposite side of the coals and bake with the lid closed for 30-35 min or until internal temperature of cake is 190 degrees. Remove from grill and let rest for a few minutes, then place a plate upside down over the ramekin and turn over to remove cake.
Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
Per cake: 471 calories (percent of calories from fat, 12), 3 grams protein, 101 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 7 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 17 milligrams cholesterol, 423 milligrams sodium.
The Fox Bros. Four Rules of Tailgating
1. Get your barbecue from Fox Bros. catering.
2. Make snacks, sides and desserts ahead of time.
3. Offer your guests plenty of cold beverages.
4. Have fun.
Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, 1238 DeKalb Ave. N.E., Atlanta. 404-577-4030, foxbrosbbq.com.