Tailgate Time is Here!

Joe Woods is a Cheat Lake resident, chef, and restaurant consultant with a lifetime of experience cooking, eating, and teaching culinary arts in Appalachia. Each month, he shares seasonal recipes, kitchen tips, and “must try” dishes from Cheat Lake area restaurants and neighbors.

As the lake season continues to wind down, our weekend focus begins to shift from sunshine, docks, and water skis- to touchdowns, goals, and cross country meets. For many, the best part of the big game actually takes place in the parking lot, during the hours leading up to the start of the contest. That’s right... it’s tailgate time!  

The history of tailgating likely traces back to ancient times when Greek and Roman leaders would toss food to spectators at Olympic competitions and gladiator games.  In America, it is widely accepted that college football is to blame for this phenomenon. Cars were scarce in the late 1800s but came of age at the same time as football. The Ivy League schools that dominated football in the early 20th century boasted wealthy alumni who were among the few who owned motorized cars in that day. The Harvard/Yale rivalry games at the turn of the century were often preceded by fans sharing picnic lunches on the hillsides around the field. As automobiles and American football grew in popularity, so grew the idea of tailgating. 
Whether you are enjoying cheering on our local players under the Friday night lights or gathering with your friends and family in WVU’s blue lot on a crisp Saturday morning... fans know that the snacks on the table and the goodies on the grill can make or break the tailgate party. So, this month, I’ve asked some Cheat Lake neighbors to share some of their families’ favorite game day dishes with all of us! If you’re looking for tailgate treats that are sure to please, look no further. These time-tested recipes are sure to make your tailgate a winner! Play and eat well, neighbors! 

Adam’s Famous Chorizo & Black Bean Chili – Adam Anderson, Four Seasons

2lbs. Sirloin or Chuck steak, cubed bitesize        
2- 7oz cans diced green chiles 
2lbs. Mexican Chorizo        
4- 15oz. Cans diced tomatoes 
1lb. Ground Italian Sausage (your heat preference)    
1- 12oz jar Goya Sofrito tomato cooking base 
1lb. Thick sliced bacon, chopped        
1- 7oz can chipotles in adobo, chopped 
1lb. Smoked sausage, chopped        
2 Sazon Goya packets (w/ coriander & annatto) 
3 small onions, diced        
Dash of liquid smoke 
3 green bell peppers, diced        
2 cans of Guinness Beer 
2 red bell peppers, diced        
4- 15oz cans black beans, drained    
1 lime, juiced        
1 bottle red wine 
-In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until rendered of fat. Remove bacon pieces. 
-Sear steak in bacon grease, until browned, and remove.  
- In the same pot, brown Italian sausage and chorizo until cooked, remove and set aside.  
- Add onions, peppers, and smoked sausage to the pot, stirring and cooking until softened, add steak to pot, and add sofrito paste stirring to coat, then deglaze bottom of pot with the red wine and beers.  
- Add back in the rest of your meats, and the rest of the ingredients to the pot and stir well to combine. 
- Simmer over medium-low heat for at least two hours, stirring occasionally or until beef is tender... or pour the chili into a slow cooker, and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Enjoy!  
Pro Tip: La Tapatia Market on Green Bag Rd usually has the Goya (and any other authentic Mexican) ingredients you’ll need. 

Slow Cooker Cowboy Beans - Mary Beth Caplan, Lakeside Estates 

* Often called “Hobo Beans,” no matter what you call them... MB’s family calls them a game day “must!”  
1lb. Lean ground beef        
2- 15.5oz cans butter beans, drained 
1lb. Bacon        
2 – 16oz cans baked beans of choice 
1 large yellow onion, diced        
2- 15.5oz cans kidney beans, drained  
¼ cup molasses        
½ Cup brown sugar 
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce        
½ Cup granulated sugar 
2 tsp dry mustard 
-Brown ground beef, bacon, and onion in a large skillet over medium heat. 
- Drain mixture of fat and add it into slow cooker on low heat.  
- Add remaining ingredients to slow cooker and stir well to combine.  
- Cook on low for 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally.   - Note: Add hot sauce to taste if spiciness is desired! 
Pepperoni Pizza Dip - Jennifer McBee, Lakeview Manor 
8oz. Cream cheese, softened    
½ Cup pizza sauce 
½ Cup sour cream        
½ Cup chopped pepperoni 
1 tsp dry oregano, crushed        
¼ Cup sliced green onion 
½ tsp garlic powder        
¼ Cup chopped green pepper 
½ tsp crushed red pepper (optional)        
½ Cup shredded mozzarella cheese 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F 
  • In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sour cream, oregano, garlic, and red pepper. 
  • Spread evenly in a 9-10 inch glass baking dish or pie pan.  
  • Spread pizza sauce over the top, sprinkle pepperoni, green onion, and green pepper over the top and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Top with the shredded cheese and bake for 5-10 minutes, until cheese is melted and browned. Serve with fresh veggies or crackers.  
* Joe’s note: this sounds like it would be delicious dipped with breadsticks or mini pepperoni rolls!  
 Texas Twinkies – Joe Woods, Hanalei  
* My most requested dish for tailgates and backyard cookouts by a large margin!
12 jalapeno peppers, topped and seeds cleaned out        
8oz cream cheese, softened 
2 lbs. Sliced bacon        
1 Cup chopped, smoked brisket (great use for leftovers) 2 Tbsp bbq dry rub, (see Aug. ‘23 “Lakeside Eats” for my recipe!)     
-Preheat smoker to 250 degrees F 
- Combine cream cheese and brisket in a medium bowl 
- Stuff each pepper with the mixture, and wrap peppers with bacon. It may take 2 slices per pepper. 
- Season the wrapped peppers on all sides with bbq dry rub seasoning, allowing 15 minutes to adhere 
- Smoke for 1.5-2 hours, turning peppers over after 60 minutes, until bacon is perfectly crisp 
- Serve as they are, or with your favorite bbq sauce for dipping, and enjoy!