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The Food Dude: It's Time Again to Tailgate

Dave Cathey: The Food Dude talks about tailgating, and how to turn yours into a championship operation.
by Dave Cathey Modified: August 28, 2012 at 6:10 pm •  Published: August 29, 2012

Two-a-days have wrapped up in Stillwater and Norman, the bands are fine-tuning their timing, cheerleaders have been chosen, and it's almost time to kickoff the 2012 college football season.

So, let the tailgating begin.

As we have for the past two football seasons, The Oklahoman will host a tailgating challenge between the two schools that will culminate in a showdown at American Propane in time for the Bedlam game, featuring the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University.

Our friendly little cook-off will henceforth be known as The Ultimate Crimson vs. Orange Tailgate Face-Off.

Different rules

The rules will be a little different this year. Entrants must submit at least one recipe to be considered. Pictures are encouraged as are videos. We will not only be looking for recipes that sound delicious, but also tailgate-friendly. What that means is, can it be toted from tent to tent? Does the dish fit in one hand so a cold beverage can be carried in the other? Be creative, show your spirit, but most importantly, have fun.

To enter, go to and fill out the form. Entries must be submitted by midnight Sept. 30.

Famous sauce

To kick off this year's tailgating, I rounded up some folks who know a thing or two about the reason for the season.

Brad Vincent and Chad O'Neal have football in their blood. Both played in college, Brad at Texas Tech University and Chad at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. So when the opportunity to revive the Split-T Grill became available back in 1994, they jumped at the chance.

But to do that, they had to convince founder Vince Stephens to let loose of the recipe for the hickory sauce for which the Split-T became famous.

Ask Brad or Chad, and they'll tell you Stephens never gave anyone the full recipe until he gave it to them. They'll tell you Stephens went to great lengths to make sure he was the only one who made the final mix.

The Split-T property was sold in 2000. Brad and Chad will tell you they work half as hard and make twice as much since they got out of the restaurant business. But they still own the recipe to that hickory sauce, which graced the No. 1, a hickory burger, and the Theta.

Theta Burger

The Theta was named when members of the sorority made started asking to have mayo added to their No. 1 burgers. Eventually, someone taking the order started noting “theta” on the ticket so the kitchen would know what to do.

Continue reading this story on the...

by Dave Cathey
Food Editor
The Oklahoman's food editor, Dave Cathey, keeps his eye on culinary arts and serves up news and reviews from Oklahoma’s booming food scene.
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Tailgating favorites

Here's a recipe for Theta Burgers and a healthy choice for gyros from Ultimate Tailgating Face-Off sponsors Homeland and the Oklahoma Beef Council.


Makes 6-8 burgers

2 pounds 80-20 ground chuck, formed into 1/4- to 1/3-pound patties

Sliced pickles

Grated cheddar cheese


Split-T Hickory Sauce

6 to 8 Sesame seed buns

Melted butter

Warm hickory sauce over low flame at least 10 minutes, Brad Vincent said he likes to go 20 minutes.

Grill burgers over medium hot charcoal or gas fire until cooked to desired doneness.

Brush bottom of buns with butter and grill until golden brown over medium to medium low flame.

Top bun with burger patty, mayo, sliced pickles, hickory sauce, and grated cheddar cheese. Condiments should spill out.

Food Dude Note: Though Vince Stephens wouldn't approve, I think diced onions are a great addition.

Source: Brad Vincent and Chad O'Neal, Split-T Hickory Sauce


Makes 6 sandwiches

3 beef shoulder center steaks, cut 3/4-inch thick (about 8 ounces each)

3 1/2 teaspoons Greek seasoning (salt-free or lightly salted), divided

1 cup finely diced unpeeled English cucumber

1/3 cup drained, chopped pitted kalamata olives

8 ounces (1 cup) plain Greek yogurt

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh dill

6 soft whole-grain bread wraps, such as naan, pita or flatbread (about 7-inch diameter)

3/4 cup chopped grape tomatoes

1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Cut beef steaks into 1/4-inch thick strips. Place beef in large bowl. Add 3 teaspoons Greek seasoning; toss to coat.

For tzatziki sauce, combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon Greek seasoning with yogurt, cucumber, olives and dill in small bowl. Cover and refrigerate.

Spray large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Heat skillet over medium heat until hot. Add half of beef; stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until outside surface of beef is no longer pink. Remove from skillet. Repeat with remaining beef.

Spread equal amounts tzatziki sauce over one side of bread wraps. Spoon beef strips down centers of wraps. Sprinkle with tomatoes and feta; roll sides of wraps over filling into cone shape. Wrap securely with parchment paper and napkin.

Nutrition information per serving: 301 calories; 15 g fat (7 g saturated fat; 5 g monounsaturated fat); 79 mg cholesterol; 402 mg sodium; 12 g carbohydrate; 1.3 g fiber; 28 g protein; 4.7 mg niacin; 0.6 mg vitamin B6; 4.4 mcg vitamin B12; 3.0 mg iron; 36.6 mcg selenium; 6.3 mg zinc; 87.8 mg choline.

This recipe is an excellent source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, selenium and zinc; and a good source of iron and choline.

Source: Oklahoma Cattlewomen's Association and Homeland Stores


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