Pigskin tailgating and pulled pork

Chef BrettOur Town Eats

It’s football time in Tennessee!

Those are five of my favorite words, and I know it is fall when I hear them.

With our beloved football season officially underway, it’s time to settle in on Saturdays and cheer on our Tennessee Vols (or your favorite team).

Growing up in Knoxville, I know that Volunteer football isn’t just about a game. What makes the football experience so enjoyable is having your friends and family around to watch as you jump up-and-down and scream at the television with no guilt.  It’s a passion very few of us can control, and I love every minute of it.

Because it is a whole experience and not just a game, tailgating in some form or fashion is almost as crucial as the players on the field. If you are lucky enough to have tickets, showing up to Neyland hours before kickoff is a must-do.

Personally, it has been a part of my life since I was a kid and continued with me as a student at UT and into parenthood. For our wedding, the rehearsal “dinner” was a tailgate party in Circle Park. The wedding was Sunday because Saturday is for football!

With social distancing and the unusual year for all sports that 2020 has decreed, we must now get creative as we share our day with friends. Pictures from last Saturday’s opener revealed some very creative Vol fans having socially-distanced tailgating parties in their driveways and front yards.

Serving the right foods at these shindigs is an essential part of being a good Southern host.  I recommend having a signature dish and a signature cocktail to put your stamp on your tailgate. It is easy to elevate your menu without too much effort.

Here is my favorite game day main course: Pulled pork sliders with creamy coleslaw and bread and butter pickles.

To stay out of trouble with my friends the Bennetts and Masseys, I must say a word about barbecue. I know we Southerners take our barbecue seriously. Nothing is better than the pork pulled from an all-night roasting over a pit or in a pig-spit roaster. This recipe, however, is built for convenience and is not a substitute for real pit barbecue. This is for the home-cooks who want to offer a delicious meal without breaking the bank or taking hours of your time.

The menu:

  • Ginger-Braised Pulled Pork (Recipe 1)
  • Coleslaw Cabbage Mix (Store bought is fine) with Coleslaw Dressing (Recipe 2)
  • Brioche Slider Buns
  • Bread and Butter Pickles

Good luck. And Go Vols!

Recipe 1 Pulled Pork

Recipe 2 Honey Mustard Coleslaw Dressing

Brett Gardner Howell grew up in Knoxville and now lives in Seattle with his wife and two children. He has been an Executive Chef for the better part of his career and continues to work in culinary arts across the country. Reach out to Brett with questions or comments on Instagram @tableside_chef.

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