Posted August 9, 2011

Chef Kyle Rourke’s Tailgating Tips

Eat + Drink

Baseball season is in full swing. Matter of fact, it’s almost football time. (Summer really flies by, doesn’t it?)

Nothing beats a good sports game, especially when there’s food involved. Go beyond peanuts, popcorn and Cracker Jacks by tailgating with flair. Here to help is Chef Kyle Rourke of Red Star Tavern & Roast House in Portland. Kyle’s an avid tailgater. (The proof: He’s given his cooler a name.)

“I grew up outside of Philadelphia, so I would go to Eagles and Phillies games a lot. This was when they played at Veterans Stadium and it was pretty rowdy, but fun — as long as you were rooting for Philly,” says Kyle. “Now that I live in Portland most of my tailgating is done while camping. I have an XM radio subscription to the Phillies broadcast, so I can listen to games while I cook.”

Kyle goes on to give us the dish on his five tailgating must-haves. Once you’re equipped, try his recipe for pork hot links with piquillo peppers. We’re sure it will earn you some fans.

Weber Smokey Joe grill
“This is great for tailgating because of the size. For about 20 bucks you get an indestructible grill that fits your trunk.”

Chimney charcoal starter
“It makes life a lot easier when lighting the charcoal, because it allows you to use charcoal without getting the flavor of lighter fluid on your food. You pour charcoal into the chimney and light 3-4 sheets of newspaper underneath. It basically draws in air and lights the charcoal from the bottom. In about 20 minutes you are ready to grill.”

Kitchen tongs
“Avoid the tongs that are sold in barbecue sets or next to the grilling supplies. Pick up a pair of kitchen-grade tongs from a restaurant supply store or online for about 5-10 bucks. Look for ones that have a decent weight and are springy but not too firm.”

Folding table
“I have an old wooden folding table I found at a thrift store. It works great for tailgating to hold the grill, cooked food and beer. Newer tables tend to be made out of plastic and might melt you are not careful.”

“I always name my coolers and stencil them with spray paint. It sounds corny, but after a couple of beers, it’s fun to refer to your cooler by name. Mine is ‘The Czar.’”

Pork Hot Links with Pickled Piquillo Peppers


7 lbs. pork shoulder, boneless
12 oz. Bud Light
2 tbsp. coarse black pepper
2 tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbsp. cayenne
3 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. brown mustard seed
1 tbsp. yellow mustard seed
¼ cup garlic cloves, microplaned
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. pink salt(cure salt)
1 tsp. bay leaf
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. thyme

1. Dice pork shoulder into 2-inch pieces and place in freezer.

2. Gather all other ingredients and mix.

3. Pour mixture over pork and marinatedin freezer for 30 minutes.

4. Grind and stuff casings into 5-inch links.

5. Smoke at 225 degrees for 2.5 hours.

6. Let cool, label and date.

Pickled Piquillo Peppers


1 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. black peppercorn
1 lb. piquillo peppers, sliced thin

1. Bring vinegar, water and sugar to a boil.

2. Turn off heat and add spices. Let sit 15 minutes.

3. Pour over peppers and let sit for 8-10 hours in refridgerator.

Happy tailgating!

Let Kyle Rourke do the cooking at Red Star Tavern & Roast House, 503 S.W. Alder St. in Portland (503-222-0005 or


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One Comment

  1. Deb says:

    This sounds great! I recently got some Himalayan pink salt and organic peppercorns from Sustainable Sourcing and I’ll have to try them out in this recipe. Thanks for sharing!