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This football season, you don’t need tickets to enjoy the hottest grid-iron games with friends, family and food fresh off the charcoal grill. Fire up the grill for a tailgate party with all the sights, sounds and smells of the stadium in your own backyard. Gather up the home team and consult these smart game-day strategies intercepted from the playbook of champion pitmaster Chris Lilly* and football analyst Mike Golic.

~ Feed the Whole Team. Win over guests by putting a variety of tailgate favorites on the menu, combining salads and sides with multiple on-the-grill options for the delicious smoky flavor that charcoal adds to food. Leftovers can be easily stored in GladWare® containers or GLAD® food storage bags – grilled meats make for great salads or quesadillas the next day.

~ Avoid a False Start. One of the most common mistakes made when lighting a charcoal grill is allowing the lighter fluid to soak in before lighting the coals. Instead, add lighter fluid following lighter fluid directions, lighting immediately and letting the coals burn until they are covered in ash (about 15 minutes). Or, simply light the briquets in one easy step and be ready to cook in about 10 minutes with Kingsford® Match Light® Instant Charcoal Briquets.

~ Score an Early First Down. Plan ahead and marinate meat before guests arrive. Try KC Masterpiece® Marinades, which can penetrate meat in as little as 30 minutes, but feel free to marinate longer for more flavor. Two to four hours works well to increase saturation and intensify taste.

~ Cheap Shot. Feeding a crowd doesn’t have to cost a fortune. There are many flavorful, inexpensive cuts of meat to choose from that are ideal for serving to a large group. Try grilling split halves of chicken instead of chicken breasts or go with skirt steak for a good beef option.

~ Top Dog: Hot dogs are some of the easiest and most affordable tailgate fixings available. Try taking them to next level by topping them with gourmet homemade toppings right from the charcoal grill, such as onions, peppers or a spicy corn relish.


~ Score a Turnover. Stick to tongs or a spatula for turning all food on the grill. Forks can pierce the meat allowing essential juices to escape, which can result in dryer and less favorable food.

~ Lock In a Win. Closing the lid of a kettle grill is a good tactic to lock in flavors and turn up the heat. However, grillers should only close the lid when cooking thick foods and the grill temperature must be kept low to avoid burning food.

~ Cover the Spread: Vegetable platters make great appetizers for any party. To cut costs, purchase, slice and arrange your favorite colorful vegetables, instead of buying a pre-packaged platter. Stick to the classics like carrots and cucumbers and serve with Hidden Valley® The Original Ranch® Dressing or Dips Mix for a tasty dip.

~ Keep Your Cool. Even when cooking over a single-zone fire, leave a small space unheated so there is somewhere to move food if you have a flare-up or if something is cooking too fast.

~ Play It Safe. When it comes to grilling, safety comes first. Make sure the grill rests securely on the ground and that it's located away from fences, deck railings and shrubbery that could be ignited by a sudden flare-up or flying spark.

*Chris Lilly Biography
Chris Lilly, husband and father of three children, is one of America’s best-known barbecue pitmasters. Lilly emerged on the barbecue scene in 1992 when he began working for the world famous Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q restaurant in Decatur, Ala. Recognized by The Wall Street Journal as having the best pork barbecue in the country and named the “Best Barbecue Restaurant in Alabama” by the Birmingham News, Lilly is now vice president of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q.
     Lilly also is head chef of the award-winning Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Competition Cooking Team, which has amassed 10 World BBQ Championships and six world titles at “Memphis in May” and the American Royal International Cook-Off and BBQ Sauce Competition. His first cookbook, “Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book: Recipes and Secrets from a Legendary Barbecue Joint” was published in 2009 by Clarkson Potter.
     Widely recognized as one of the top pitmasters in his field, Lilly has been a guest chef for five years running at the Food Network’s South Beach Wine and Food Festival, has served as an honorary chef at the James Beard Foundation and the American Institute of Wine and Food, and was a presenter at the Low-Country and Caribbean Food Conference at Johnson and Wales University.
     Lilly has appeared on “The Today Show,” “Live with Regis and Kelly” and “The Martha Stewart Show” as well as numerous Food Network programs, including “Cooking Live with Sara Moulton” and “Fire in the Soul - The Barbecue Movie,” and local television stations nationwide. Lilly has been featured in Food and Wine, The New York Times, Relish, Southern Living, Travel and Leisure, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
     In addition to his work at the restaurant and on the competition barbecue circuit, Lilly also lends his expertise to Kingsford® Charcoal as a national spokesperson, to The Greenbrier® resort in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. as a teacher of courses on barbecue mastery, and to the Seghesio Family Vineyards, located in Healdsburg, Calif., as a guest chef. In the summer of 2009, Lilly was named the Official Tour Pitmaster of the Keith Urban Escape Together World Tour through his work with tour sponsors, the makers of KC Masterpiece© barbecue sauces and Kingsford© charcoal.


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