Tailgating Recipes: Rubs and Sauces for Ribs and Wings

Food for Football

You can feel the excitement in the air. Folks are breaking out their team colors, gathering up their fellow fans, and getting ready for what many think is the best time of the year: football season.

And even though fans tailgate throughout the country, no one does it quite like we do in the south. What sets us apart? The food.

Ribs, Ribs, and More Ribs

A true southern tailgate spread isn’t complete without barbecue ribs. And while you might already have your own time-tested rib recipe, here are some rub and sauce options you might want to try:

  • Most Southerners prefer their ribs dripping with sauce, but for a change of pace — and a lot less mess — try combining brown sugar, salt, black pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Rub this mixture into ribs and marinate overnight. Grill and enjoy.
  • For some spice, try a Memphis-style rub mix with black pepper, paprika, brown sugar, salt, celery salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, dry mustard, and cumin. Cover the ribs in rub and let them cure in the fridge for four or five hours before grilling.
  • Want to try something different? How about a Jamaican Jerk rub? Combine kosher salt, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, ground all spice, crushed dried hot pepper, dried chives, paprika, ground black pepper, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, dried thyme, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves. Again, rub, marinate, grill, enjoy.
  • Let’s talk sauce. Barbecue sauces vary greatly by region, and there’s fierce debate over who really has the whole sauce thing right. But when it comes down to it, they’re all pretty good. Here’s a fairly basic option for those who don’t want to debate, but just want to eat some delicious, saucy ribs: combine brown sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, rum, Chile sauce, garlic, mustard and pepper. Cover the ribs in sauce and marinate overnight.
  • Have you ever made white barbecue sauce? Combine mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, a little corn syrup, some cayenne pepper, prepared horseradish, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Don’t marinate the ribs in white sauce — just pour it over.
  • It’s widely accepted in barbecue circles that “Carolina-style” sauce is vinegar based, as opposed to tomato based. For a vinegar-based sauce, try combining cider vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, yellow mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, and a bit of Worcestershire sauce. This makes an excellent marinade as well.

Don’t Forget the Wings

While you’ve got the grill going, you might as well fire up another tailgate staple: chicken wings. Just like ribs, there are so many options when it comes to grilling up these delicious little bits. Here are a few rubs and sauces you might want to try.

  • Combine dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, sweet paprika, kosher salt, black pepper, dry sage, dry mustard, ground ginger, and cayenne pepper. Rub chicken wings with mix, brush with oil, and grill.
  • Want a bit more spice? Try paprika, kosher salt, dark brown sugar, granulated garlic, celery salt, chili powder, black pepper, onion powder, dried thyme, dried oregano, mustard powder, celery seed, and cayenne. The more cayenne, the spicier.
  • And finally, a super sauce for your grilled wings: unsalted butter, garlic, hot cayenne pepper sauce, kosher salt, onion powder, chili powder, and sugar. Grill wings with salt and pepper only, then smother them in this sassy sauce and eat up.

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