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The Interpretive Art of Tailgating

Parking lot delights for every occasion

Story & Photographs by Rose Shewey

Tailgating in the South, in all its splendor and glory, shouldn’t be confined to stadium parking lots before football games or auto races. You can enjoy camaraderie and shared meals under the open sky at concerts, steeplechases, or most famously in Moore County, the traditional Blessing of the Hounds — all of which call for truck beds or car boots filled with delectable spreads. Regardless of your reason for gathering together, there are must-have foods at every tailgate. If you want to be the envy of Lot D (for delicious), we have you covered with some simple twists on classic pre-game fare that have the potential to be the envy of the RV crowd. Goodbye fast-food wings and budget brews, we’re bringing our A-game.

Irish Stout Cheese Dip

Beer and cheese go together like pumpkins and pie, but instead of spiking your dip with the popular choice of a hoppy IPA, try a creamy Irish stout with a mixture of cheddar and Gruyère cheese. To boost the flavor, add minced garlic to the roux (or if you’re simply melting your cheese into a dip, add garlic powder) and store in a thermos to serve warm on chilly autumn days.

Honey-Apple Cider Glazed Chicken Wings

Wings are undeniably a fabulous addition to any tailgating spread. In the spirit of the season, and for the love of apple cider, change it up with an autumn-inspired sweet and savory glaze that has heaps of umami thanks to a generous splash of Worcestershire and soy sauce (try coconut aminos in place of soy sauce, but adjust the amount of honey to balance out the sweetness). Add a pinch of cinnamon to warm up the flavor and truly ring in the cold season.

Shepherd’s Pie Soup

Instead of a classic chili, try this hand- and heart-warming soup combining all key ingredients of a shepherd’s pie. In place of minced lamb, consider beef (or a mixture of mushrooms and French lentils for a vegetarian take) and add it to your mirepoix. Tip: If you puree about half of the potatoes going into the soup, you’ll get the best of both worlds — a creamy base with hearty chunks, all in one.

Charcuterie to Go

Portable charcuterie, also called “Jarcuterie,” is a natural progression of a meat and cheese board for all those who can’t imagine a holiday or festivity without this classic (and classy) spread. Combine your favorite cheese, meat, nuts and fruit in a jar for easy transportation and serve on location. For a fall-themed selection, add grapes, figs, blackberries and roasted pumpkin seeds or walnuts. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary to add a splash of seasonal color.

Butterscotch, Pear and Walnut Turnovers

Don’t forget to add a sweet treat to your lineup. Fall inspired turnovers are a handy and welcome tailgating snack. These stuffed puff pastry pockets can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer, to be baked the day of your big event. Fragrant pears paired with silky-smooth butterscotch sauce and chopped walnuts make for a spectacular filling and, best of all, these baked goods are kid-approved, for all the youngsters in attendance.

German native Rose Shewey is a food stylist and food photographer. To see more of her work visit her website at