Tailgating vs. Homegating: Recipes that work for either

By Beth Bower | November 1, 2022

Watermelon Bites

Tailgating is a social gathering at which an informal meal is served from the back of a parked vehicle, typically in the parking lot of a sports stadium.

Lots of fun, for sure, but then so is enjoying football, food, friends and family in the comfort of your home. And now that approach has its own name: Homegating.

Rob Bennett, a regular at Kansas City Chiefs games, is a diehard tailgater.

“My dad got season tickets when I was 10,” said Bennett, who’s now attended tailgate parties at Arrowhead Stadium for more than four decades.

Sometimes, Bennett fixes his favorite pork tenderloin recipe. “It’s so simple,” he said, “and great left over for breakfast with eggs.” On one occasion, though, he and my husband, Guy, served a formal steak dinner set up under two tents with tablecloths and real napkins. They had to arrive at the stadium at 6:30 a.m. in order to finish before the game started.

“According to a radio interviewer, it was the fanciest food in the parking lot that day,” Guy said. 

And that’s saying something, as Arrowhead is routinely cited as the best tailgating stadium in the NFL.

A Super Bowl is sort of the ultimate Homegating party. Chris Ens is known for the ones she throws.

Chris Ens

“We love hosting Super Bowl parties because our house is designed well for those who are serious football fans and those not so serious,” said Ens, who has wisely shifted her allegiance from the Denver Broncos to the Chiefs. “We can meet in the middle for great food and drink.”

Because she wants to enjoy visiting with guests rather than be stuck in the kitchen, Ens’ go-to dish is a taco and nacho bar, which allows people to serve themselves and use their culinary imaginations to make just what they want.

And as my husband points out, homegating does come with certain creature comforts that even the most elaborate tailgating parties lack, like a comfy recliner.

“I would sooner sit in the living room with the replays and commentaries and get up during the commercials to get food,” he said. 

Pork Pulled Nachos

Taco and Nacho Bar

3-5 lbs. pork butt

1 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

3-4 carrots, chopped

For serving: Herdez Green Salsa Verde (32 ounces or more depending on size of pork and crowd); red salsa, grated cheese, chips, flour tortillas, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream, chile con queso, refried beans, black olives and jalapenos

Directions: Mix cumin, salt and pepper in small bowl. Season pork with spices. In a large pan, heat oil. Brown pork on all sides.

In a crockpot, add the onions, carrots, salsa and pork. Cook on low for 8 hours or until pork is tender. Let cool, separate the meat with a fork and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Fill individual bowls with the remaining ingredients and put out with pork.

Source: Chris Ens

Black Bean and Sirloin Chili

This recipe from Guy Bower was selected for the “Seriously Good Chili Cookbook, 177 of the Best Recipes in the World” by Brian Baumgartner of  “The Office” fame. Bower is host of The Good Life with Guy Bower on KNSS radio station.

1/3 cup olive oil 

2 lbs. boneless sirloin, cut into 1/2-in. cubes 

2 cups chopped yellow onion  

2 tablespoons minced garlic 

5 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped fine (wear rubber gloves)

1/3 cup masa harina (corn tortilla flour mix) 

1/3 cup plus 1 tsp chili powder 

1/2 teaspoon cayenne 

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 

1/2 teaspoon white pepper 

2 teaspoons salt 

4 cups beef broth

½ cup red wine (optional)

2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained if canned 

1 can (14 oz.) petite diced tomatoes

Grated mild Cheddar, minced red onion and cilantro, for garnish 

Directions: In a heavy kettle, heat the oil over moderately high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Brown the sirloin in batches, transferring it as it is browned with a slotted spoon to a bowl. 

In the fat remaining in the kettle cook the yellow onion, the garlic and the jalapenos over moderate heat, stirring until the onion is softened. Add the masa harina, chili powder, cayenne, cumin, white pepper, salt and wine. Cook the mixture, stirring for 5 minutes. 

Add the broth and the sirloin and simmer the mixture, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes, or until the meat is tender. Stir in the beans and diced tomatoes. Simmer the mixture for 20-30 minutes. Serve the chili garnished with the Cheddar and red onion and cilantro.

Pork Tenderloin

¼ cup sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder

Cayenne, to taste

Olive oil

1.5 to 2 lbs. pork tenderloin

Mix first 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Coat the pork tenderloin with oil and rub spice mixture all over the meat. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 3 hours; preferably overnight.

Can be cooked in the oven but is best on a charcoal grill. Prepare coals, place tenderloin directly on grill for 10 minutes. Flip over and cook on direct heat for 10 more minutes. Move meat off fire and cook indirectly for 20 minutes and test for doneness at 145 degrees. Remove from heat, slice and enjoy.
Source: Rob Bennett.


Watermelon Bites (shown above)

To make Watermelon Bites, cut seedless watermelon into football shaped pieces, decorate with crème fraiche and garnish with mint, if desired.

Source: Jeremy Wade, Napoli.