As the Tailgate Empire grows so does the realization that we only have four more games left to enjoy at Empire Field. We won’t miss the bleacher seats or the tiny scoreboard. We won’t miss the portable toilets or the luke warm hotdogs either. We will, however, eventually see the sun set on what has become a tailgate location unrivaled above the 49th parallel.
All the more reason to make the most of every opportunity to scrape off the grill and get cooking in the sunshine and beauty of East Vancouver. Our empire of tailgaters has settled into an excellent spot in the North parking lot of Empire Field. Under the trees and on the grass we cook our meals and enjoy our beverages.
We were all treated to a great football game on Friday night. Big plays on both sides of the football and a potential game winning kick at the end. Alas a victory for the home club was not meant to be, but that would not spoil a great evening of fun for the Tailgate Empire. Unfortunately, this particular setting will eventually close its doors.
There has been a trend of less than stellar attendance at New Empire that may suggest that a downtown retractable roof stadium is exactly what the people of the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley covet. That and maybe a winning football club. As much as Empire has been a boon for tailgaters, it obviously does not have the benefits that a centrally located, state of the art stadium would. The lack of transit options as well as hotels and restaurants has obviously hurt the appeal of Empire, but tailgaters have definitely benefitted from the experience. Let’s hope that these experiences help to foster an enhanced outlook for local tailgaters in the parking lots surrounding a new BC Place Stadium.
On the Tailgate Empire grill this week we cooked up a devastating meal! Fall off the bone ribs with a homemade BBQ sauce. We also had grilled veggies, and a warm potato salad that I am still dreaming about. Others around us were grilling in style as well. There were various meats on a stick, a Greek salad that would have made Zorba jealous, some very colorful shish kabobs as well as the usual fare of burgers and dogs. Some of the very best meals being served today are coming out of the back of a truck in a dirty old East Van parking lot!
When preparing ribs we usually like to use the boiling technique. This should be done at home the night before. First we slice up an onion and a head of garlic and add it to a stock pot full of water. We like to season the water with garlic powder, salt and pepper and Mrs. Dash. Bring the water up to a medium boil. You’ll need to be sure to remove the membrane from the ribs. This is the silver skin on the underneath portion of the ribs. We then place the ribs in the stock pot and boil at medium for about 90 minutes. Let them cool and these ribs will be “fall off the bone” and will be ready for the BBQ sauce and the grill.
We made a homemade BBQ sauce. It is really easy and you can use most anything that you have in your fridge and pantry. We used 1 cup of ketchup, 1/3 of a cup of honey, 1/3 of a cup of corn syrup, 1 cup of red wine vinegar, 2 ounces of Sailor Jerry’s Rum, some Tabasco sauce, some garlic powder, and some salt and pepper. Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil while whisking. Once it is boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 40-45 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Let it cool and it is ready for ribs.
We like to give the ribs a generous coating of sauce and place them on the grill. The best way we’ve found is to place aluminum foil over the grill surface and cook the ribs on indirect heat. Remember, the ribs are already cooked, and we are just trying to warm them and sauce them. Cook them for 10-12 minutes and then flip and re-sauce. Another 10 minutes or so and they’re good to go!
Our vegetable intake was fairly standard. Some onions and white mushrooms cooked in a foil pack with some seasoning and butter, as well as some peppers julienned in foil packs with Mrs. Dash. We also had a warm potato salad that a fellow member of the Empire cooked up. He didn’t give me the recipe, but it was a cheesy, creamy, bacony mixture of potatoes and corn. Absolutely decadent!
It was another fabulous meal cooked in a parking lot. We had a great meal and enjoyed some top notch football! Check back next week to see how we made out, or by all means grab a bbq and some grub and join the Empire!!