PITTSBURGH — Soccer followers like to throw tailgates each massive and small earlier than video games. Whether or not it’s a humble unfold of chips, dip and hen wings out of a automobile trunk or a catered smorgasbord feast, the purpose is similar: to have a very good time whereas cheering on the house staff.

Such is the power of a tailgate that it’s typically the backdrop for different necessary celebrations, just like the bachelor social gathering Dave Brandon, of Georgetown, Beaver County, threw for his cousin, Daniel Mackall, on the Steelers’ preseason sport in opposition to the Detroit Lions on Aug. 21. Organized on the final minute, it featured a easy menu of grilled bratwurst, hen and shrimp from Costco with loads of Miller Lite beer to clean it down.

“It’s a enjoyable time. I like to entertain and cook dinner,” says Brandon, principal at Western Beaver Junior/Senior Excessive Faculty in Trade.

A couple of spots down the car parking zone, North Facet native Lamont Copeland additionally was taking it comparatively straightforward with a pre-season menu of scorching canines, hamburgers and chicken-on-a-stick. His menu stood in stark distinction to the grilled shrimp, steak and crab legs Marissa Corradini of Somerset was feasting on.

“It’s my first time [tailgating], so I wished to essentially expertise it,” she says.

Then there are individuals like Johnny Dusch, who approaches his pre-game events with such vigor that you just would possibly name him a tailgate fanatic.

The Greenfield resident and volunteer diving coach on the College of Pittsburgh, the place he was a standout diver in 1984-87, has been throwing tailgates ever because the late Nineteen Eighties, when the Steelers nonetheless performed at Three Rivers Stadium. It wasn’t till 2009 that he discovered how one can do it proper, after working right into a College of Pittsburgh tailgater partying out of the again of a Winnebago.

“He confirmed me how one can do it with class,” he says.

Dusch then purchased a retired Nineteen Eighties ambulance and turned it into the Pittsburgh-themed Cellular Tailgating Unit. Upgrades included a 20-inch flatscreen TV and onboard restroom contained in the cabin. The car with a customized paint job paying homage to Metal Metropolis sports activities groups shortly grew to become a fixture at Steelers and Pitt Panthers tailgates in Crimson Lot #6 close to PNC Park.

It’s obtained such a wow issue that it’s been featured on the NFL Community and KDKA TV’s Fan N’ATion. The forged of “Rock of Ages” additionally visited when the present was on the town a number of years in the past. In 2011, the Cellular Tailgating Unit earned him a spot because the Steeler’s rep within the Tailgating Corridor of Fame, a company of premiere tailgaters from throughout the nation.

Dusch created a second MTU in 2013 after crashing the unique right into a wall Downtown and totaling it on the way in which to a sport. “However we tailgated anyway,” he says, noting how all of the meals and provides had been transported in buddies’ vehicles to Heinz Subject.

Whereas the previous MTU was a classic ambulance made to seem like a field truck, the brand new unit is a brand-new field truck made to seem like an ambulance, with a swing-out again door that enables for straightforward motion of a gasoline grill. A facet door offers entry to a two-room lavatory tent. “And we add new particulars yearly,” he says, pointing to the names of the Pirates, Penguins and his numerous sponsors. He retains it parked on the road in entrance of his hilltop home on Montclair Avenue.

However what actually makes the Cellular Tailgating Unit particular is the meals Dusch dishes up in it earlier than every sport. For the Steelers’ first house sport, he plans to serve his 50 friends 5 – 6 fundamental programs, together with grilled lobster and steak and mac ‘n’ cheese with both shrimp or lobster. Per custom, buddies can even nosh on Dave McIntyre’s legendary pulled pork, which he smokes the evening earlier than, and slices of Mineo’s hand-tossed pizza (he’s been buddies with co-owner John Mineo since they had been children).

“And we’ll have two big containers of essentially the most beautiful desserts you’ve ever seen” from Joe Porco’s Lincoln Bakery in Bellevue. “A marriage could be jealous,” he says of the cupcakes, cookies and different pastries.

Dusch, who’s a human useful resource director at a plastics firm, additionally repeatedly serves pierogies, kielbasa and different dishes that pay homage to town’s sturdy Polish roots.

He likes to go all out on tailgates, he says, as a result of nothing beats a very good social gathering. And the individuals who come collectively earlier than video games at Heinz Subject “are a blast.”

“It’s the ambiance. We’re all like a giant staff, serving to one another out and having a good time.”

The moratorium on tailgates in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic was a bummer, he notes with a sigh. “We couldn’t do something, and it was horrible.”

There’s just one Cellular Tailgating Unit and few of us share Dusch’s ardour and/or cooking expertise. However anybody can create a fairly nice tailgate unfold with a number of good recipes. We provide 4 which can be straightforward to organize, style nice and will be transported from the kitchen to the car parking zone with out an excessive amount of bother.

As my niece Amanda Jandrokovic, who equipped the taco salad recipe, famous, “The ambiance of Steeler Sunday is just too thrilling to not tailgate. Everyone seems to be overvalued, and it at all times offers us an opportunity to see and join and social gathering with the opposing staff.”

Who doesn’t love crunching on a taco and never having to fret that it’ll crumble in your hand? This straightforward salad has all of the flavors of a hardshell beef taco however will be eaten with a fork.

“We like it as a result of it’s straightforward to throw on a plate with Doritos, or eat alone,” says Jandrokovic, whose husband, Phil, has made it for each Steelers tailgate since he took over his father’s tickets 5 years in the past. “We take it in a crockpot so it’s straightforward to move.”

In the event you like your tacos slightly spicier, merely add salsa or scorching sauce. Different optionally available toppings embrace diced avocado, chopped cilantro, bitter cream or corn. I made the taco seasoning from scratch however there’s no disgrace in utilizing a pre-packaged combine.

1½ teaspoons floor cumin

½ teaspoon crushed crimson pepper

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

1 head of iceberg or romaine lettuce, chopped

¼ cup sliced black olives

¼ cup chopped inexperienced onion

1 15-ounce can pinto or black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup Catalina or vinaigrette, bottled or do-it-yourself

2 cups tortilla chips or Doritos, crushed

Make taco seasoning combine: Measure out all of the components in a small bowl. Combine effectively. Style and alter salt or spices as desired.

In a big skillet, cook dinner beef over medium warmth 6-8 minutes or till it’s now not pink and breaks into crumbles. Drain and stir in taco seasoning and water; convey to a boil. Scale back warmth and simmer, uncovered, for 4-6 minutes or till thickened, stirring sometimes. Cool barely.

In a big bowl, toss lettuce with tomatoes, olives, inexperienced onions, beans and cheese. High with beef combination and crushed chips; drizzle with dressing and toss to mix.

— Philip Jandrokovic, Brighton Heights

If there’s one given at a tailgate social gathering, it’s that somebody will convey Buffalo hen dip. Some make it with canned hen (ugh!) however I wouldn’t dream of it; my go-to is shredded rotisserie hen.

For a handheld twist on this previous favourite, I stuffed the dip inside a refrigerated pie crust, creating an empanada-like deal with. I additionally tucked in a little bit of chopped cilantro and a pickled jalapeno for some further zip, with blue cheese dressing for dipping. (In the event you’re not a blue cheese fan, substitute ranch.)

I used two dough rounds per empanada, however you additionally may reduce the circles slightly bigger and fold them over to make it simpler.

Whereas I’ve made this dip numerous occasions with Frank’s Crimson Sizzling sauce, I found Hank Sauce “Cilanktro” this spring in Sea Isle, N.J., and have become a fan. It contains cilantro together with scorching pepper and garlic.

3 cups shredded rotisserie hen

6 ounces (3/4 package deal) cream cheese, softened

6 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

¼ cup blue cheese crumbles, optionally available

1/3 cup blue cheese or ranch dressing

1/3 cup of scorching sauce, or extra to style

2 packages refrigerated pie pastry

Chopped cilantro and pickled jalapenos

1 egg overwhelmed with slightly water, for wash

Blue cheese or ranch dressing, for dipping

Preheat oven to 450 levels.

In a big bowl, combine collectively shredded hen, cream cheese, cheddar and blue cheeses, blue cheese dressing and scorching sauce. If it’s not saucy (or spicy) sufficient, add slightly extra scorching sauce.

Unroll a pastry sheet onto a calmly floured floor. Utilizing a floured 3-inch spherical cookie cutter positioned midway on the sting of the pastry, reduce dough into circles, or if you wish to get actually inventive, 4-by-3-inch soccer shapes. Repeat with remaining dough, chilling and rerolling scraps as wanted.

Switch half of the cutouts to greased baking sheets. Place a spoonful (about 2 teaspoons) of hen combination within the middle of every one and flatten along with your finger, being cautious to go away room on the sides.

High with slightly chopped cilantro and a pickled jalapeno. Brush edges of pastry with egg. High with remaining cutouts and press edges with a fork to seal. If utilizing soccer shapes, reduce slits within the tops to resemble soccer laces. Brush tops with egg wash.

Bake 8-12 minutes or till golden brown. Take away from pan and serve scorching, or enable to chill to room temperature. Serve with ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping.

Makes about 3 dozen empanadas.

— Gretchen McKay, Submit-Gazette

Each social gathering wants some type of dessert, and brownies match the invoice for a tailgate. These get the black-and-gold remedy with the addition of yellow M&Ms. It’s a ache to type them from the bag, however they add a colourful house staff contact. I added chopped pecans, however you would sub in walnuts or almonds.

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for pan

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1 ounce semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

¼ cup and a couple of tablespoons cocoa powder

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2/3 cup pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped, or extra to style

¼ to 1/3 cup gold or yellow M&Ms

Preheat oven to 350 levels.

Butter 8-by-8-inch baking pan. Line backside with parchment or wax paper, leaving an overhang on two sides. Butter paper; set pan apart. In a medium bowl, whisk collectively flour, baking powder and salt.

Place butter and semi-sweet chocolate in a microwave protected bowl, and warmth in microwave, 10 seconds at a time, till easy, stirring sometimes. Stir in cocoa powder and oil. Add sugars, eggs, vanilla and flour combination; stir to mix effectively. Stir in M&Ms and pecans, if utilizing, then switch batter to pan with a spatula.

Bake 30-35 minutes or till a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs hooked up (or sooner to verify they’re gentle). Cool fully earlier than slicing into squares.

Retailer in an hermetic container at room temperature for as much as three days. These additionally freeze effectively.


A season opener requires a very nice cocktail. This pineapple jalapeno margarita provides an ideal steadiness of candy and warmth, and better of all, serves a crowd.

For pineapple jalapeno syrup

9 ounces cointreau (or any orange liqueur you favor)

750 ml bottle of tequila (I just like the peppery notes in blanco tequila)

Put together pineapple jalapeno syrup.

Mix juice and sugar in a saucepan and gently warmth till sugar is dissolved. Don’t boil. Take away from warmth and add sliced jalapeno. Let steep for 10 minutes, longer for extra warmth. Cool to room temperature.

Mix 3 ounces of pineapple jalapeno syrup with cointreau, lime juice, water and tequila in a container (sufficient to carry 57 ounces) and stir to mix. If time permits, chill the components. Since you aren’t shaking the cocktail, there isn’t any dilution so including water is necessary for the cocktails to be balanced. Seize a crimson solo cup — it’s for a tailgate in any case! — fill with ice, garnish with a lime wedge and revel in!

Makes roughly 15 4-ounce cocktails.

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