Whether your tailgate includes a custom grill setup and team color-coordinated tents or a simple picnic on a well-worn blanket, no pre-game ritual is complete without the spread. This is one party that’s as much about the food as it is about fans and football.
This past weekend, I was in Minneapolis tailgating with friends for the University of Minnesota’s homecoming game against the Northwestern Wildcats. We arrived at the parking lot Saturday morning around 8:30 to party before the 11 a.m. kickoff.
Our host, Chad Jaeger, started the festivities with a hearty breakfast chili -- rich and creamy, it was packed with crumbled bacon and sausage, beans, cheddar cheese and diced egg. Perfect for a chilly, 45-degree morning.
Every time I turned around, he’d set out another plate of food -- all conveniently bite-sized -- for the gang. Peanut butter chicken bites, Dusseldorf meatballs, “sweet and sassy” fajita bites, spicy Sichuan green bean dip -- the menu easily included more than a dozen items, which Chad continued to cook up even after the game for the all-day event.
A seasoned tailgate pro, Chad started planning and prepping early in the week (Tuesday) for Saturday, and he must’ve cooked for around 40 people. At one point, I asked him about the largest tailgate he’s ever hosted (he’s cooked for as many as 80), and what got him started (he received a portable grill as a birthday present around 10 years ago, and it spiraled from there). As for all those dishes? Chad likes to come up with his own original recipes.
I finally asked if he’d mind sharing his breakfast chili recipe, since that’s something I’d love to serve at my own early morning tailgates in the future. He did, and you can find the recipe below.
In the Saturday section, we share 25 great tailgate ideas, whether you’re thinking main course or sides. Twenty-five not enough? Try this photo gallery with 40 ideas, with links to each and every recipe.
Finally, I’ve received some great emails from readers sharing their tailgate traditions and recipes. Drop me an email, or better yet, comment below and let me -- and other readers -- know what you’re cooking!
Chagermeister’s breakfast chili
Total time: About 30 minutes, plus overnight cooking time
Servings: 6 hungry adults
Note: From Chad Jaeger.
1 pound breakfast sausage, browned and crumbled
1 pound bacon, fully cooked and crumbled
9 hard-boiled eggs, diced
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of cheddar soup
1 soup can’s worth of milk (about 2 cups)
1 (15.5 ounce) can navy beans
4 green onions, minced
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles, drained
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
The night before serving, combine the sausage, bacon, eggs, cream of chicken and cheddar soups, milk, navy beans, green onions, chiles and cheddar cheese in a large slow cooker. Mix well and season to taste. Set the slow cooker to low heat and cook overnight; the chili will be ready to serve when you wake up in the morning. Serve in a bowl with crumbled crackers, over hash browns or toasted English muffins.
*This recipe has not been formally tested by the Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen.