Tailgating with Joe Drozda: Prepping for the homegating

Another dish that homegaters crave is sweet potato fries. (Submitted photo)
Another dish that homegaters crave is sweet potato fries. (Submitted photo)

Commentary Joe Drozda and Bob Bley

Homegating is that new word we wrote about last week which means a tailgate at home, indoors, to host a social gathering which is centered around a special football game such as the Rose Bowl or Super Bowl. As we said more than 40 million people will be hosting such “Homegates” soon. Here are some tips to make your Homegate/party successful:

  • Decorations – Have a banner/ flag and streamers to hang. Let team colors dictate your party color scheme.
  • Coolers – Have a few coolers for cold drinks like water, pop, sparkling wine and beer.
  • Ice – Keep plenty of ice on hand, more than you think you’ll need. You’ll not only want to keep your drink coolers full, but many guests will want to add ice to their beverages, too.
  • Beer – Stock up on an assortment of bottles and cans to keep everyone happy.
  • Bottle openers – Have a first class (top of the line) opener in every cooler.
  • Food – Serve a mix of items to satisfy everyone, and go mainly for finger foods that are easy to pick up and eat – think sandwiches, chips and dips, wings, veggies and deserts as well. It’s best to set up a buffet table off to the side where people can load up on platefuls of food.
  • Plates, bowls, cups, and cutlery – Use top of the line disposable stuff that can hold up to heavy fare. Don’t skimp on the quality of these items.
  • Napkins – These are necessary for wiping messy, greasy fingers throughout the night. Buy the big expensive dinner napkins.
  • Seating – Next to food and drink, this is the most essential element of your party. Make sure you have enough seats in front of the TV for everyone who’s attending and cares to watch the game. It’s far better to limit the number of guests than to rent or borrow chairs. For kids you can spread blankets and pillows on the floor as well.

Here’s another side dish that today’s Homegaters crave.

Sweet Potato Fries


Large, long, sweet potato for each three people

Coarse sea or kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, chunky

Olive oil


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Rinse and then peel the ugly parts of the potatoes. Cut off each skinny end. If they’re very large, cut the sweet potatoes in half. Now, take a half of the sweet potato, flat side down and cut it into large slices about 3/4 inch thick. You’ll then cut these slices into fries. Just throw them all on to the baking pan. Sprinkle a pinch of coarse salt over them, and then apply lots of freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with olive oil but do NOT drown them. Mix everything together on the baking sheet. Make sure you’re scooping the salt, pepper and oil from the bottom and mixing it in. They should look slightly glossy. Space out the fries on the baking sheet. Make sure they’re all evenly spaced and not touching to help prevent sogginess. Put them in the oven undisturbed for 15 minutes. Then, take them out and flip them. Put them back in the oven for 10 more minutes. Both sides should now be dark brown and crispy and spicy. To make these fries lighter reduce the cooking time slightly.

For dip recipes to go with sweet potato fries check out our dip recipes at tailgaitershandbook.com