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Terrific tailgating: Fans get tips for safe gridiron grub


Jan Swoope



With about 72 hours left on the SEC season count-down clock, tailgate pros and red-shirt rookies alike are looking forward to major game day munchies. For many, a game is not a game unless a tailgate spread precedes it.  


While the Mississippi State University Bulldogs run through final drills for their match-up Saturday in Starkville against Jackson State University, and the Ole Miss Rebels prepare to take on Memphis State in Memphis Sunday, the tailgate nation is planning menus. 


Bulldog tailgaters now have a new way to share their culinary creations, according to Harriet Laird, associate director of MSU University Relations.  


By logging on to the MSU Facebook site at, gurus of the tailgate grill can post their favorite recipes. Just click on "Discussions," follow the link to "Tailgating Recipes" and share away. 


Brent Fountain, of the MSU food science, nutrition and health promotion department, shares several food preparation tips and other helpful hints to keep in mind when firing up for football festivities. 


"Remember that tailgating is an event, and for many it''s bigger than the game itself," the assistant extension professor said. 


To go along with team-themed serving dishes, logo-stamped glassware and decorations, Fountain suggests these "do''s" and "don''ts" for flawless fun. 








  • Plan ahead. If there are foods that can be chilled or frozen ahead of time, do it. They''ll stay cooler longer and help keep other foods cold. 


  • Separate foods that are raw and uncooked from ready-to-eat foods to prevent cross-contamination. For instance, if you''re planning to grill chicken, don''t place the cooked chicken on the same plate that held the raw chicken. 


  • Bring a thermometer. A simple bimetallic stemmed thermometer (not glass) can be purchased at most grocery stores and is a good thing to have if cooking on the grill or checking temperatures of foods left on the buffet. 


  • Bring a fruit salad with fresh fruit. Fruit is perfect on hot days and is a great source of water, vitamins and minerals. By adding lemon or lime juice along with other citric foods like oranges, this can be a safe food to have for your tailgaters throughout the event. 


  • Bring anti-bacterial hand sanitizer. It isn''t a substitute for handwashing, but bathrooms may be difficult to get to and poorly stocked. Hand sanitizer will at least reduce the risk of pathogens. 


  • Bring something for discarding trash and garbage. Keep the area around you clean. 


  • Coordinate with others who share your tailgate space. It''s not necessary for one person to carry the load, and it isn''t much fun if everyone brings the same thing. 


  • Make everyone feel welcome, visiting team included. You may not have enough food for everyone that stops by, but be sure to be courteous. Many times you are the first impression and sometimes the only impression they may have of your favorite team. 


    "Tailgating allows us to spend time with those we may not see on a regular basis and with some we may never see again, but it allows us to be part of an event through the foods we bring and share," Fountain said. 


    To impress family, friends and even visitors rooting for the opposing team, he said the "don''t" list is just as important as the "do''s." 










  • Allow foods to sit out for extended periods of time unless they don''t pose a threat to food safety. Foods like chips or certain cookies and cakes are fine to leave on the table, but cover them to protect from insects. For foods that are potentially hazardous, like meats or egg dishes, be sure to keep them out of the temperature danger zone (40-140 F) as much as possible. 


  • Be careless with ashes or coals from your grill. It''s unsightly to see burn patches on Monday morning and can be dangerous. 


  • Allow guests to over-consume alcohol at your events if it is present. This can lead to a difficult time for you and everyone at your tailgate. Have a plan to restrict alcohol if you think this could be a problem. It could ruin your day and be dangerous as well. 


  • Judge what other people bring to the event. You can avoid this by planning ahead and making sure that everyone understands what is needed. 


  • Block walking aisles with your tent unless you''re willing to let people cross within your tailgating area. Try to be accommodating and understanding. 






Green game days 


MSU tailgaters are urged to embrace a new initiative called "Keep It Clean: Green Game Day, Sustainable Season." The program developed by the athletic department and the school''s Environment Colaborative Office is aimed at recycling aluminum, plastic and glass and reducing tailgate trash. 


While many universities charge tailgating fees to defray the costs of extensive post-game cleanups, MSU does not, observed Athletic Director Greg Byrne. The school depends on fans to do their part by bagging tailgate trash and recycling whenever possible, he added.  


Typically, maroon and white trash receptacles are located throughout campus on game weekends. For the first time this year, green recycling boxes also will be provided by MSU''s ECO and the Mississippi Department of Transportation. 


Byrne said, "Our fans have shown over time that they''re a big part of creating a great game day experience at Mississippi State. ... ''Keep It Clean'' reinforces our commitment to providing the best college football experience possible throughout the season." 




Tailgating recipes abound on the Internet.You can scout them at sites such as and  








1 pound package Jack cheese 


Two peeled tomatoes, diced fine 


Six to eight black olives, chopped 


Salt and pepper to taste 


1/4 cup chopped green chilies 


1/4 teaspoon garlic salt 




  • Grate the cheese and mix with diced tomatoes, chopped chilies, black olives and spices. 


  • Chill for one hour and serve with tortilla chips.  


    (Recipe courtesy of 








Makes 24 pieces 




24 chicken drumettes 


2 tablespoons olive oil 


2 teaspoons sugar 


1 teaspoon salt 


1 teaspoon garlic powder 


1/4 teaspoon pepper 


1/3 cup Dijon mustard 


3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 


1 teaspoon dried oregano 




  • Rinse the chicken with cold water and pat dry. 


  • Stir together the oil and next four ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken, tossing the pieces to coat thoroughly. Arrange the chicken in a single layer on a wire rack in an aluminum foil-lined jelly-roll pan. 


  • Bake at 450 degrees for 30-35 minutes. 


  • Combine the mustard, lemon juice and oregano in a large bowl. After removing the pan from the oven, carefully add hot chicken to the mustard mixture. Toss to coat. Drain and discard any accumulated fat from the pan. 


  • Place the mustard-coated chicken in a single layer on the rack in the jelly-roll pan and bake at 450 degrees for eight to 10 minutes more, or until done.  


    (Recipe courtesy of Southern Living) 










One box Jiffy corn muffin mix 


One egg (per Jiffy box) 


1/3 cup milk (per Jiffy box) 


Three regular hog dogs  




  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 


  • Lightly grease a mini muffin pan. Prepare the corn muffin mix according to box directions. Divide the batter between the 24 mini muffin cups (just less than 1 tablespoon per cup.) 


  • Cut each hot dog into eight equal pieces and poke a hot dog piece into the middle of each batter-filled mini muffin cup. 


  • Bake for approximately 12 minutes, or until the tops are golden and crispy. Gently remove the poppers from the pan and serve with mustard and ketchup. 


    (Recipe courtesy of 



Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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