Party On the Pavement
Remember that friend you had growing up, the one with the cool mom who always wanted everyone to play at your pal’s house? She usually stocked better snacks than your mom — things like homemade chocolate chip cookies in an honest-to-goodness cookie jar, ice-cold soda for the taking and enough Jeno’s pizza rolls to spoil your dinner. There weren’t as many rules at your friend’s house, either. Sneakered feet on the edge of the coffee table? No problem. That lid you left up? No one will yell at you. “Please” and “thank you” were expected, but beyond that, you could go a little rogue.
Dan Boos is the male version of that hip mom, but instead of people at his house he rallies the troops at Arrowhead on Chiefs Sundays. His band of amiable merrymakers (even when the team is down and out they’re a happy bunch) includes 40 or so lifelong friends and their wives and kids, buddies from his competition barbecue cooking team and various strangers, stadium security personnel and the curious who happen by Boos’ converted school bus parked on a strategic corner at the stadium.
“Do people regularly crash your party?” I ask, watching a threesome saunter up to the folks assembled outside Boos’ decked-out bus that’s emblazoned with the Chiefs’ logo and self-appointed slogan, “KC Super Fans.” The invited guests are grazing on huge bacon-wrapped scallops, grilled shrimp brushed with a mango jalapeño jelly and stuffed peppers; the wannabes look longingly at the ample buffet that could easily pass as a training table for hungry athletes.
“Sure,” Boos pauses, his chef obligations on hold for three seconds, glances around the bus, a soft smile saying it all. “Come one, come all.”
Dan Boos is a likeable guy with a quick smile and sparkling eyes, a human welcome wagon known far and wide in KC tailgating circles. He always has cold ones on ice and hot stuff rolling off a couple of Webers stationed in front of the bus. By the time I make my way through myriad camps of tailgaters and locate Boos, he has the appearance of slaving over a hot stove, a towel thrown over his shoulder, a beer in one hand and a well-used pair of tongs in the other that hover above the glowing grill.
“Make yourself at home,” he says, offering me a plump shrimp that’s glazed with a homemade mango jelly. I oblige, popping the little flavor bomb in my mouth.
Chris and Sandi Foster of Lee’s Summit have tailgated with Boos for years. Chris is a fellow member of the barbecue team, Midnight Smokers, with him; Sandi is nicknamed the “brownie queen” because she always brings a couple pans of her signature sweets. The Fosters are Chiefs season ticket holders, and like the majority of die-hard tailgaters support the team through thick and thin. It’s the idea of being with all of their friends, eating, laughing, swapping stories and relaxing that appeals to them.
“Sundays at Arrowhead are special,” says Chris almost reverently, reflecting on the fellowship aspect of tailgating. “Just being together with people you enjoy is better than a win.”
I pile succulent, sliced brisket on my paper plate, along with a healthy scoop of Super Potatoes and Sandi’s Greek dip. I’m getting the feeling that the only way you could overstay your welcome at the Boos camp is to refuse to eat. So I dig in, closing my eyes for a moment and partake in the communion of tailgating.
After all, it’s a sort of spiritual congregation out here on the pavement.
Most of the women in attendance today are participants in the revelry with little accountability in the cooking-palooza that’s unfolding at Boos Tailgating Central. Marc Spellman, who is sharing grill duties with Boos and Chris, says the guys enjoy feeding the girls. “It’s what we do out here, I guess,” Spellman is concentrating more on the baby fist-sized scallops swathed in bacon that are ready for a squirt of a honey mustard glaze than the conversation at hand.
That’s okay, I think. Keep that food coming, boys. Seconds on scallops, please and sure, I’ll take a bacon-wrapped Nathan’s hot dog. Hold the bun.
|Dan Boos in his KC Super Fans bus at Arrowhead Stadium.|
Passersby are inquisitive about the oversized Crown Royal sports chair set up outside the bus. Boos says it’s always an attraction, with people sometimes piled two or three deep on the chair, getting their pictures snapped on iPhones for Facebook posterity.
Take Zamir Gotta, for instance. He’s a Russian producer and broadcaster and the affable traveling companion of that swaggering, bourbon-swilling food god from the Travel Network, Anthony Bourdain. The two are often partners-in-crime during the taping of Bourdain’s show, “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” discovering what culinary passions fuel the cities they visit. One Sunday morning Bourdain and Gotta are out at Arrowhead, in town to film a show about Kansas City barbecue, and they stop long enough at Boos’ KC Super Fans bus for a chat, a Jello shot and a sampling of Boos’ wares.
Boos and Bourdain bond over the three B’s … booze, barbecue and banter. That’s practically like a pinky swear. What happens at Arrowhead stays at Arrowhead.
Da bus. It’s as much a part of Dan Boos’ tailgate as the food and friends. He owns the behemoth vehicle that transports the goods to the stadium and stands like a dutiful sentry during the festivities. The inside is permanently smoke-infused, the aroma of barbecue wrapped around the seats and the sports pictures plastered all over the interior. Boos, a man in perpetual motion, sits for a spell, quaffing a cold one and reminiscing about the good times he’s had over the years tailgating.
“It’s indescribable sometimes,” he admits. “It’s just something I love to do.”
Some of the kids in the group run in and out of the bus, blasting one of the two mega air horns perched atop the bus, sending the piercing noise into the parking lot and sparking a horn war.
Boos just flashes a contented smile that clearly says, “I’m in my element.”
The host with the most. Like that renegade mom years ago who harbored you like a fugitive while you and your buds consumed massive amounts of chips and dip and cold Cokes and candy, Boos is here to entertain and feed you. Maybe you’ll overeat a bit or regret that shot of Tequila that comes before the tailgating disbands and the party moves into the confines of Arrowhead. But come Monday, when the stress and obligations of the workaday world close in, you’ll recall your time at the party on the pavement.
And smile, just like Dan Boos.
TAILGATING TOUCHDOWN MENU
When it comes to feeding the gang at a pre-game party, there’s no such thing as too many cooks or too much food. Get your game on with this highly portable, no-fuss spread that will have the next-door tailgaters huddled around the buffet.
Dan Boos and his tailgating team are serious about two things: food and fun. It doesn’t really matter which comes first, although Boos will tell you the two are wholly interchangeable. Part of the fun of a Boos-style tailgate bash is that the food doesn’t put the chefs into overtime.
“Keep it simple,” says Boos. That means your Sunday pilgrimage to Arrowhead (or trekking on Saturdays to your college alma mater) should be streamlined for maximum enjoyment. In other words, make ahead, so all you’re doing on site is grilling and chilling.
Remember: no reservations, no cloth napkins, no fussy food. The perfect tailgating menu doesn’t require a time commitment; it’s off-duty fun for a lazy fall weekend.
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Grilled Shrimp with Mango Jalapeño Jelly
Super Bowl Super Brownies
KC Appleseed Fizz
Extra napkins strongly advised.
* * *
Mango Jalapeño Jelly
Make this jelly ahead … you’ll have plenty on hand for tailgating season to brush over shrimp or chicken on the grill.
3 cups ripe mangoes,
6 jalapenos, diced small
(leave seeds in for more heat)
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
6 1/2 cups sugar
1 (6 ounce) bottle liquid pectin
Boil five clean jelly jars while making the jelly.
Combine all ingredients except the pectin in a large saucepan and boil for 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in pectin and boil for 10 minutes or until jelled. To test, dip a metal spoon in at right angles to the surface of the jelly and lift it about 12 inches above the surface. While still at right angles, allow the drops to “sheet” off. If they do not come together and sheet off, continue boiling and test again.
Remove the jelly from heat, skim any foam off, and allow it to cool. Carefully ladle into hot sterilized jars.
Clean the outside of each jar around the top with a hot cloth dipped in boiling water. Seal.
This refreshing KC-inspired cocktail is guaranteed to snap your palate into place during the pre-game show in the parking lot.
Dylan Sly, a bartender at Manifesto in the Crossroads Arts District, founder of The Traveling Cocktail Club and a proud member of the Kansas City Bartenders Guild, played around in his laboratory and concocted this drink that could easily rival a Bloody Mary. “I like the hoppiness of Boulevard’s 80 Acre in this cocktail,” says Sly. “It’s an approachable drink that is spot-on for tailgating but can easily adapt to other party scenarios.” And the best part of this adult beverage is that you can mix ahead, batch and easily transport it to the stadium. This drink is fall, football and fun in a glass.
KC Appleseed Fizz
Batch for 10 people
20 dashes Angostura bitters
5 ounces grenadine
5 ounces lemon juice
10 ounces apple cider
15 ounces Applejack apple brandy
*10 ounces filtered water
Boulevard 80 Acre
Mix all together in a punch bowl or tub (leave the beer out). Stir vigorously after mixed and before each drink is served. Pour over ice. Top with 80 Acre beer.
Smoke these the day before your tailgate.
1 cup salt-non iodized
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
16 teaspoons chili powder
4 teaspoons MSG (Accent)
8 teaspoons cumin
4 teaspoons cayenne
4 teaspoons fresh-ground black pepper
4 teaspoons garlic powder
4 teaspoons onion powder
Ribs (quantity is your choice)
Sprinkle the rub on ribs and let sit out at room temperature for one to two hours before cooking. Smoke ribs for four hours at 225 degrees and then raise the cooking temperature to 250 – 275 degrees for one more hour. Let the ribs sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes and sit down and enjoy a slab … or let cool, wrap and refrigerate. Pack them up for Game Day!
Super Bowl Super Brownies
This dessert is addictive … irresistible, fudgy, rich, decadent. Need we go on?
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups (12 ounces) milk chocolate chips
1 package Double Stuffed Oreos or Reese’s peanut butter cups
1 family size (9×13) brownie mix
¼ cup hot fudge topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream the butter and both sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well to thoroughly combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt, then slowly incorporate into the mixer until the flour is just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread the cookie dough in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish that’s been lined with wax paper and sprayed with cooking spray. Top with a layer of Oreos. Mix together brownie mix, adding an optional ¼-cup of hot fudge topping to the mix. Pour the brownie batter over the cookie dough and Oreos. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for an additional 15-25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting — brownies may still be gooey in the middle when still warm, but will set up perfectly once cooled.
For an easier version use a log of slice-and-bake chocolate chip cookie dough.
NO-FUSS GUIDE TO TAILGATING
Some tips and tricks for fun on Game Day to make your pre-party a winner.
Just like any good coach, you need to make a plan and then execute. If you’re a regular tailgater, develop a personal checklist to keep on your iPad or computer that will make prepping and packing a cinch. Check out a couple of apps that will get you organized so you can chill and grill: Tailgating (free, iOS) and Tailgating Planner (.99, Android).
If you’re a regular tailgater, you probably have a repertoire of tried-and-true foods for the party. But if you want some fresh ideas for beef, lamb, poultry, sides, veggies and seafood, consult the Grill-It! App (.99, Android, iPhone, iPad).
Remember to keep the menu simple … the only action you want on the day of your tailgate is being the master of the flame. Choose foods that can be made ahead and transport easily.
The devil is in the details here … if you’re a frequent tailgater, consider keeping a basket full of the essentials: a cutting board and knives; corkscrew and bottle opener; paper napkins, disposable plates, cups, forks and knives; foil, plastic wrap and Ziploc® bags; paper towel and trash bags; wet wipes, a first aid kit and sunscreen; and plenty of ice. Remember your sports chairs, flags and other paraphernalia to show your team allegiance, a ball or two to throw around and games to play in the parking lot. Load the car with as much as possible the night before and check that list twice.
Line the bottom of your grill with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Stagger cooking different items throughout the tailgate so you’re not crowding everything on at once; guests love to sample throughout the party, so keep the food coming. If you’re going into the stadium, keep an eye on the clock so you have plenty of time to clean up before heading in to cheer on the team.
You’re at Arrowhead or Sporting KC or your college tailgate, but want to be informed about the results from around the league and division. The ESPN ScoreCenter app (free, iPad, iPhone and Android) will ensure you don’t miss a minute of the action anywhere with live updates.
Party Like the Pros
Great products to get your tailgate in high gear.
Chef’s 3-piece BBQ set $88.50
Diebel’s Sportsmens Gallery
Chef Matt’s Fire Roasted Hot Sauce (5 oz.) $5
Fire Wire (2-pack flexible grill skewer) $11.50
Fire Wire (4-pack double-prong skewer) $14.95
Taylor Classic Instant Read Thermometer $15.95
The Culinary Center of Kansas City
Canape plate $8.95
(100 ml. bottle olive oil/ spices) $14.95
Weber Q 220 $229.99
Red Fiestaware Baking Dish $52
Red-Checked Paper Basket Liners (24 pack) $5.99
Chef’s Casserole Warmer $20.99
CDN Instant Read Thermometer $15.99
Chiefs Pack (napkins, plates, cups) $28.50
Chiefs Collapsible Insulated Tote $44.95
Football Platter $25.50 each
Pryde’s of Westport