By Vera Stewart | Photo by Amy J. Owen
Vera’s Tailgating Menu
Whether it’s a weekend of camping when the weather is nice, tailgating experiences at a college football game or just entertaining outdoors, planning is essential. DON’T let the food stress you out! As a veteran caterer, my goal has always been to have “nothing to do” on the day of the event but the presentation!
There’s nothing like a camper to turn an outside experience into a manageable and enjoyable outing. The folks at CSRA Camperland in Augusta, in business for more than 50 years, have every imaginable configuration. We chose one of the most popular models to showcase our tailgate.
Honey Pecan Spread
5 1/3 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tbsp. local honey, plus more for garnish
2 tbsp. pecan halves, chopped
1. With a mixer, beat the cream cheese and honey
2. Fold in the pecan pieces by hand.
3. Drizzle with honey before serving.
4. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to six days.
1. Toast round + honey pecan spread + tomato jam or relish
2. Toasted cocktail-size biscuit + honey pecan spread + fig preserves +goat cheese + crispy bacon bite
Vera’s Signature Chicken Salad
2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, raw
1/2 c. pecan pieces
1 c. green onions, sliced
2 c. Hellmann’s mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
2 tbsp. dried tarragon
1. Boil the chicken breasts in salted water for about 10 to 12 minutes until a thermometer inserted in the thickest breast registers 165°F.
2. Pulse the chicken in a food processor, leaving bigger pieces, or shred by hand to your desired consistency.
3. In a large bowl, combine the shredded chicken.
4. In a separate bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and seasonings.
5. Mix some of the mayonnaise mixture into the chicken mixture until well blended. Continue to incorporate the mayonnaise mixture until you have reached your desired consistency.
6. Store in the refrigerator and allow the flavors to meld overnight.
7. Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to six days.
Serves 8 to 10.
2 lb thick center-cut bacon
1 c. brown sugar
4 tbsp. raw honey
1/3 c. bourbon
1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with foil or parchment paper. Place a wire rack on the cookie sheets.
2. Individually arrange the slices of bacon on the wire racks. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 25 minutes. The bacon should be crispy but not overdone.
3. Using tongs, transfer the cooked bacon strips to plates lined with paper towels to drain the grease.
4. Using the same cookie sheets, add new foil or parchment paper and arrange the bacon strips in a single layer.
5. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the bacon. Whisk together the honey and bourbon. Drizzle the bourbon mixture from a spoon over the bacon covered with brown sugar.
6. Bake in the 425°F oven for 10-15 minutes. Crack the oven door slightly while cooking these bacon strips.
7. Carefully remove the pans from the oven and transfer each strip of bacon onto a wire rack that has parchment paper under it. Let cool.
Makes 24 strips of bacon.
Tips for Hosting the Perfect Tailgate
• Mix up already prepared bite size treats alongside “help yourself” suggestions
• Cut some cake slices and individually wrap, then guests could take one with them upon leaving
• Use freezable gel packs for place your salad inside another bowl filled with ice for dishes that need to be kept cold
• Place a dampened paper towel on the bread to keep the sandwich moist and the freshness sealed
• Finally, spread a thin layer of butter before you spread the filling to keep a mayonnaise-based spread from soaking through the bread
Appears in the August/September 2020 issue of Augusta Magazine.