It never fails: as soon as school starts, my house goes into full football mode.
Being the mom of a varsity football player, we do a lot of tailgating. In fact, at Heritage Hall, all the fans tailgate before every away game. No matter if we are in Cushing or Kingfisher, we roll out the grills and tables. These tailgates are all about fellowship, football and, of course, food. You can find almost any food: homemade dolmas to stroganoff. So I use this captive audience many times to try out new recipes.
I’ve found that one staple of a good tailgate is the slider – small, portable bites that hit the spot yet allow for enjoying other food, too. Therefore, I’m always trying out new and fun twists on the classic burger. My latest favorite is what I like to call the Charger Burger. It’s a blend of ground chuck and pork sausage topped with a pepper jack cheese and bacon; the kicker is my Sassy’s Secret Burger Sauce. It’s simple to make and adds a powerful punch to any burger.
Another favorite is fried cheese curds. I have loved to get bags of this “squeaky” cheese for years, but once I had them fried, I was in love. It’s a hybrid of sorts, where a hush puppy meets a grilled cheese sandwich in one bite. All I can say is once you make them, be ready to make more – so addictive, and I have yet to find someone who doesn’t love them. Experiment with your cheese curd
1 pound ground chuck
1 pound pork sausage (hot or regular)
2 teaspoons seasoning salt
pepper to taste
sliced pepper jack cheese
1 package potato slider buns
½ pound bacon, cooked crispy
fresh tomato, sliced
► Preheat a grill to medium-high heat. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the ground chuck and sausage. Divide the meat mixture into 12 balls and form into burger patties. Right before grilling, sprinkle the burgers with seasoning salt and pepper. Place on grill and cook to desired temperature. Five minutes before the burgers are done, top them with the pepper jack cheese slices and cook until melted. Remove from heat, and place on the slider buns with a dollop of my secret sauce on the top bun, then build your burger with bacon, tomato and lettuce.
Sassy’s Secret Burger Sauce
¾ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons Wickle’s Pickle Relish
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon minced onion
1 teaspoon white vinegar
► Mix all of the ingredients in a small bowl and store in an airtight container
for future burgers and sandwiches.
Fried Cheese Curds
Vegetable oil (for frying)
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1 (9-ounce) package fresh cheese curds, room temperature
► Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or fryer until it reaches a temperature of 375 degrees. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, milk, egg, sugar and seasoning salt. Add cheese curds and place a scoop of dough into oil, then fry until golden brown. Drain the cooked curds on a wire rack and serve warm.