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This football season, score rave reviews from family and friends by firing 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 saved in GLAD® containers – 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, eliminate undesired flavors by applying a moderate amount of fluid, lighting immediately and letting the coals burn until they are white-hot (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 Light charcoal.

• Bet the House(cleaning). Spice up a tailgate party by letting your competitive spirit out with a friendly wager on the game. No money should exchange hands; rather, the losers are responsible for tackling the dishes when the party is over.

• Pass It On. No backyard tailgate is complete without a halftime game of tag football. Hand off your football wisdom to your littlest tailgaters by teaching them the art of the perfect pass – the release and follow through are the most important elements and can be the difference between throwing a wobbly “duck” and a perfect spiral.

• Skewer the Competition. Grilled kabobs are a guaranteed crowd pleaser. When grilling those that incorporate strips of meat, chicken or even individual shrimp, make sure the skewer goes through the food twice so each piece will stay in place rather than rotating. Or, cut the meat into cubes and spear once for an even, easy cook. Also, be sure to soak wood skewers in water before placing them on the grill, as dry skewers will burn.


• Level the Playing Field. A typical chicken breast is thicker on one side than the other, which can make it difficult to cook them evenly. To solve the problem, simply press the heel of your palm firmly against the thickest part of the breast until even with the rest of its surface before placing on the grill.

• Make a Fourth-Down Conversion. When applying sauces to ribs, such as KC Masterpiece® Barbecue Sauces, be sure to do so in the last 10 to 15 minutes of cook time. Applying any sooner will likely result in an unwanted caramelization of the sauce – not to mention a sticky mess!

• Solid Defensive Coverage. When applying a dry rub to chicken pieces, it’s often hard to keep that rub affixed and it’s even more difficult to keep the chicken’s original, golden color. Try painting chicken pieces with yellow mustard prior to applying the rub. Not only will the rub stay in place, your final product will be visually appealing – without any trace of mustard flavor.

• Blitz for Burgers. To achieve a perfectly grilled burger, only flip once. This is essential! Look for a pooling of natural juices in the center of the burger – that’s when you know it’s time to flip to the other side.

• Play It Safe. When it comes to grilling, safety comes first. A good rule of thumb in cookout clean-up is to wait at least 12 hours before emptying residual ash, as it’s more than likely that glowing embers remain in the grill for quite some time.

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