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Fancy-Up Your Tailgate with Recipes from Chef Josh Capon and National Tailgate Weekend

tailgating recipes
Image used with permission by copyright holder
This past Saturday, October 7 marked the second annual National Tailgate Weekend, college football’s newest (and arguably best) holiday. The event was held at Purdue University in Indiana (as they battled conference rival, the University of Minnesota), where parents, students, football fans, and people who just want to have a good time got together for food, fun, and football.

National Tailgate Weekend was created to, “Give college football fans a proper platform to celebrate a favorite pastime: tailgating.” This year, over 600 schools participated in celebrating the nation’s love of gridiron grilling.

Hosting (and whipping up his own original tailgating recipes) for this year’s showdown was Chef Josh Capon, the executive chef and partner of Lure Fishbar, B&B Winepub, El Toro Blanco, and Bowery Meat Co. in New York City. He’s also the five-time winner of the People’s Choice award at the New York City Wine Festival’s Burger Bash.

Chase McPeak/The Manual

Chef Capon served up a mouth-wateringly delicious grilled filet mignon steak sandwich along with grilled brats with red onion jam and grain mustard. He cooked right in front of us prior to the game, demonstrating how to assemble the sandwiches and giving a few tailgating tips: prepare everything you can ahead of tailgating time and have heavy objects on hand to weigh down plates, napkins, and anything else that might blow away during a winter or autumn afternoon, and absolutely don’t skimp on the beer.

Chef Capon and National Tailgate Weekend were kind enough to give us their secret tailgating recipes for the amazing eats we experienced. If you’re looking to fancy-up your tailgating and impress your friends this season, these are the recipes you need to know.

Grilled Johnsonville Brats with Red Onion Jam and Mustard Aioli (Serves 8)

national tailgate weekend josh capon
Image used with permission by copyright holder


*Grain mustard aioli

Method: Mix together and put into quart containers.

**Red Onion Jam (Yields approximately 3-4 quarts)

  • 5 lbs diced red onions
  • 0.5 cups red wine vinegar
  • 0.5  cups canola oil
  • 2 tbsp Sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method: In a large rondeau, heat oil and add onions. Caramelize red onions until golden brown on low heat, stirring often to prevent from sticking (about 30-35 minutes). Deglaze with vinegar and add sugar. Continue to cook until almost dry. Season with salt and pepper. Cool and put into quarts containers.

Assembly directions

Method: Grill brats to golden brown on all sides. (Poaching them in beer before hand is optional, but highly suggested). Place in bun and top with onions and aioli. Enjoy!

Grilled Filet Mignon Steak Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions, Horseradish Cream, and Gruyere (Serves 6-8)

national tailgate weekend josh capon
Image used with permission by copyright holder


  • 1 whole filet cleaned, tied, seasoned, seared, and cooked to medium-rare
  • 2 Italian breads
  • 1 quart caramelized onions*
  • 1 quart horseradish cream**
  • 1 lb thinly sliced Gruyere cheese

*Caramelized onions

  • 5 lb sliced Vidalia onions
  • 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 1/2 cups champagne vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper

Method: Heat a large rondeau, add oil and onions. Cook for about 30 minutes until brown, stirring often. Deglaze with vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Cook until dry. Cool and place in quart containers.

**Horseradish cream

  • 4 cups  Prepared Horseradish (drained)
  • 2 cups Sour Cream
  • 1 cup Dijon mustard
  • Salt & Pepper

Method: Add all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well.  Put in plastic quarts.

Assembly directions

Method: Slice the bread lengthwise. Toast on both sides. Put the cream on both sides and then layer the meat, cheese, and onions. Close sandwich and warm in oven or on grill. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

Chase McPeak
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Chase McPeak is the former Lifestyle Editor. Chase regularly appeared on Beards, Booze, and Bacon: The Manual Podcast where…
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