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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

/articleid/3704914/1/pictures/1811445">Photo - Steak for a tailgate cookout. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman <strong>CHRIS LANDSBERGER - CHRIS LANDSBERGER</strong>
Steak for a tailgate cookout. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman CHRIS LANDSBERGER - CHRIS LANDSBERGER

“A true Theta Burger is topped with mayo, sliced pickles, hickory sauce and grated cheddar cheese on a sesame bun — Vince was a stickler about that,” Brad said. “I am an onion lover, but it was not on the original Theta.”

Chad and Brad said you can now get true Theta Burgers at Louie's restaurants, Henry Hudson's, The Greens Country Club, Quail Creek Country Club, Les Debris and at the State Fair.

Split-T Hickory Sauce can be found at Crest Stores, Sprout's Markets, Buy For Less stores, The Meat House, Everything BBQ, Holder Brothers Beef, Jack's Fire House and American Propane.

Norman style

To talk Sooner tailgating, I spoke with Paula Barrington, who along with Pam Wiley, is responsible for The Catering Girls tailgate. Paula is famous first and foremost for her Bloody Mary. One sip and I was sold. I am historically not a Bloody Mary person, but this mix of heat and spice was good enough to eat with a spoon and call gazpacho.

Tailgaters started calling Barrington and Wiley the catering girls because of the breadth of products they bring to their tailgate. You'll find their tailgate just north of University and Boyd, near the First Presbyterian Church in Norman.

Barrington said her food secret weapon is the bratwurst, but that no one walks away from their tailgate hungry or thirsty.

As for the Sooners, she said, “I expect a national championship and nothing less every year.”

Stillwater style

Up in Stillwater, on the west side of the architecture building just south of the stadium parking lot, you'll find Laura Steen and her husband, Conner, surrounded by the same friends and their families that started tailgating while in college close to a decade ago.

“We all keep expanding our families, and the tailgate just keeps getting bigger,” she said. “It's meant our tailgate has had to adapt to having kids around.”

Steen said the go-to tailgate treat is the Walk-o Taco, also known as a walking taco or a taco in a bag. Simply cut open a single-serving size bag of tortilla chips — Laura prefers Doritos — and replace the air so kindly supplied by the folks at Frito-Lay with seasoned ground beef, lettuce, cheese, salsa, onions and whatever taco-friendly toppings you prefer.

“You can walk from tent to tent with it,” she said. “And still hold a cold beer.”

Whether you bleed orange, crimson or a little bit of both; and whether you trek to Stillwater, Norman or open up the back patio, part of what makes the fall so fun is getting together with friends for football, fellowship and flavor.

If you think you excel at any or all of those things, by all means enter the contest.

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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