Tangy beef in an Italian flatbread

Tangy beef fills Italian flatbread for an easy pregame treat.

We are now enjoying fall and for many ardent fans — football season. With that comes tailgating, and planning a special meal that you and your friends can enjoy before the game.

The tradition of tailgating goes back at least 100 years or more. There are different accounts of when the practice of tailgating really began, but one of the first is credited to when a large number of fans traveled by train to a Yale football game in 1904. The fans were famished after their arrival and having brought baskets of food with them, they set up a picnic for themselves.

One interesting statistic that shows up in research is that around 35% of the tailgaters at a sporting event don’t attend the game. Of course, no serious football fan would be counted as one of those. If you are looking for a change from your usual game food of burgers or hot dogs, try any of the following sure-to-please options, and enjoy tailgating as well as the game.

Cook up a batch of this shredded beef to use for sandwiches the day before the game, pack it along with you in a cooler, and just reheat when ready to eat. The combination of ingredients that are used to make the sauce in which the meat is cooked gives a tangy flavor that is different from other barbecue sauces. Cutting the roast in quarters gives more surfaces for the sauce to penetrate the meat.

Tangy Barbecued Beef Sandwiches


1 (3 ½- to 4-lb.) boneless beef chuck roast, fat trimmed

1 cup chopped onions

4 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons dry mustard

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1/3 cup vinegar

1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1¾ cup ketchup


Cut the beef roast into four sections; place in the slow cooker; add chopped onions. Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the beef. Cover; cook on low setting 6 to 7 hours or until beef is tender. Remove beef from slow cooker; shred meat using 2 forks. Return beef to sauce in slow cooker. Serve beef in crusty buns or slider rolls. Source: Made With Revisions from “Food for Friends,” Classic Pillsbury Cookbooks, 1995.

Make your own flatbreads to use for sandwiches with this quick and easy method that does not use yeast as the leavening agent and makes use of the food processor in mixing up the dough. A cast iron skillet is used for cooking the flatbreads rather than the oven. The Cooks magazine test kitchens developed the recipe to replicate the Italian “piadine”, a centuries-old flatbread used for sandwiches. Piadine is a popular street food in Italy where the flatbreads are filled with cheese and a variety of meats, then grilled to melt the cheese.

The recipe calls for all-purpose flour, but I make them with half whole wheat and half all-purpose. The soft flatbreads are great in place of tortillas for tacos, can be filled with a meats and cheese or other sandwich fillings, and I have also cooked them a little longer to make them crisper and then used them for flatbread pizzas. The filled and folded sandwich can be grilled to warm the filling and melt the cheese. Make the flatbreads the day before the game and just warm them before filling with your choice of fixings.

Italian Flatbreads

(Makes: 4-6 flatbreads, depending on desired size)


2 cups all-purpose flour or (1 cup whole wheat and 1 cup all-purpose)

¾ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

¾ cup water (milk can also be used)


In the bowl of a food processor combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Process until combined, about 5 seconds. Add oil and process until no traces of oil remain, about 10 seconds. With processor running, slowly add water; process until most of the dough forms soft, slightly tacky ball that clears the sides of the work bowl, 20–30 seconds (there may be small bits of loose dough). Transfer dough to counter and gently knead until smooth, about 15 seconds. Divide dough into 4–6 equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Working with one dough ball at a time, place ball seam-side down on clean counter and, using your cupped hand, drag in small circles until ball is taut and smooth. Cover dough balls loosely with plastic wrap. Let rest for 30 minutes.

Pat 1 dough ball into 5-inch disk on lightly floured counter (keep remaining dough balls covered). Roll disk into 9-inch round, flouring counter as needed to prevent sticking. Repeat with remaining dough balls. Heat 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat until drop of water dripped onto surface sizzles immediately, about 3 minutes. Prick 1 dough round all over with fork, then carefully place in skillet. Cook until underside is spotty brown, 1–2 minutes, using fork to prick any large bubbles that form. Flip round and cook until second side is spotty brown, 1–2 minutes (flatbread should still be pliable). Transfer flatbread to plate, gently fold in half, and cover with clean dish towel to keep warm. Repeat with remaining dough rounds, stacking folded flatbreads and re-covering with towel as they finish. Serve warm. Flatbreads can be stored refrigerated for up to 2 days in a zipper-lock plastic bag. Reheat in cast iron skillet over medium-high heat for 20–30 seconds per side until warmed through. Source: “Cooks Illustrated magazine,” September & October, 2019.

Onion lovers will be anxious to try this prizewinning recipe submitted by Judy Lynn Hendrickson to the 2003 Better Homes & Gardens Magazine recipe contest in the grilling category. It is the perfect topping for your grilled burgers.

Blue Cheese Vidalia Onions

(Servings: 8)


2 large Vidalia onions or other sweet onions, cut into ½-inch slices

1 tablespoon butter

4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (1 cup)

½ of an 8-oz. package cream cheese, cut up

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon dried dillweed


Fold a 36x18-inch piece of heavy foil in half to make an 18-inch square. Place onion slices in center of foil. Dot with butter. Bring up opposite sides of foil, seal with a double fold. Seal remaining edges with double folds to completely enclose onions, leaving space for steam to build. For a charcoal grill, place packet on rack of covered grill directly over medium coals. Grill for 25 to 30 minutes or until onions are just tender; turn packet once or twice during cooking. (For a gas grill, preheat a grill. Reduce heat to medium; grill as above.) In a large bowl combine blue cheese, cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce, pepper and dillweed. Use a slotted spoon to add onions to cheese mixture; toss to coat. Serve onions on grilled burgers topped with bacon, or on grilled steak. Source: Better Homes & Gardens Magazine, November 2003.

Satisfy your cravings with our weekly newsletter packed with the latest in everything food.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Bernie Mason writes the Local Flavor column for Lee Montana Newspapers. She was a Yellowstone County extension agent for 24 years. Mason grew up in Sidney in a family of German and Danish ancestry.