One-upmanship can be defined as the art or practice of successively outdoing a competitor. In our case the competition is not the opposing team, rather it’s the other tailgaters in our parking lot. Way back in 1992, I remember when a man attached a flag pole and flag to his minivan. His flag, sporting the team name and logo, waved in the fall breeze. The next game, another tailgater had a larger flag on a higher poll. Week after week the “war of the flags” rose to higher levels. Finally after all parties had taken things up to the highest level money could buy, one man arrived and dealt the coup de grâce. He brought an inflatable mini blimp, in team colors. He filled it with helium gas and let it rise to the sky, easily more than 100 feet. The blimp was tethered to his vehicle by a long rope and on the rope hung a huge team flag. The war of the flags was over!
So much for one-upsmanship, right, or should I say “yeah right!” To try to make one’s tailgate set-up bigger and better is a natural male urge that must be allowed to run its course. Eventually, after accumulating tents, canopies, coolers, sound systems, themed vehicles, and bigger and better grills, each tailgater will start to realize that a tailgate party is a social event, not a competition. It’s a time to relax. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still fun to watch rookie tailgaters compete with one another, but for now, when we speak of competition it’s about having better food.
Here’s a great cold weather dish that will stand out as the best food in your parking lot. It’s called bœuf bourguignon, or Beef Burgundy.
2 to 3 pounds good beef (like chuck steak) cubed
1/4 cup canola oil
10 or more small onions peeled, but whole
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound fresh mushrooms
1 bottle burgundy wine
Trim all the fat from the beef and then stir fry it in a large stew pot. Remove these pieces of fat with a slotted spoon and then add the cubed meat and oil. Brown this mixture for 20 to 30 minutes. Add the salt and onions and then cover the mixture with the wine and simmer 30 minutes. Clean the mushrooms with a brush and then slice them into thin profile slices. Add these mushrooms to the mixture and then cover with the remainder of the wine. Simmer 30 minutes longer and then take one piece of beef and taste it. If it’s tender and full of that rich wine taste, it’s done. If not tender then cook it longer.
Refrigerate this mixture overnight. Skim off the fat with a spoon. Take this mixture to the game and heat it slowly. Serve it in hefty bowls with French baguettes and Burgundy wine.