Note: You can win a free tailgate drop from Man Crates just for leaving a comment under this story. Be sure to leave your Twitter handle in the comments section between the time this story appears at 2 pm Sept. 21 and noon on gameday (Sept. 22 vs. UAB) and you can win this. Be sure you leave your Twitter handle so we can reach you if you win. If you aren’t on Twitter, you’ll have to leave your email address for us to reach you. I’ll randomly draw the winner at kickoff and post the name. Man Crates will send you your prize! Good luck.
It’s week four of the 2012 Ohio State football schedule and it’s time to get you ready for tomorrow’s clash with the Blazers of the University of Alabama-Birmingham. The city of Birmingham is in the central part of the state, less than 60 miles northeast of Tuscaloosa, where the more famous college football team from the university system plays, and where our own fearless leader Vico lived before his escape back to the Midwest. Birmingham is in the heart of the Deep South. As such, it is not as culturally devoid as you may think. It’s possibly more so. Sorry, I don’t mean to denigrate our southern neighbors, and if you are from Alabama and reading this column, “denigrate” means “to put down.”
The state of Alabama embraces traditional southern cuisine, leaning heavily on comfort food and soul food, but there are also Gulf delicacies galore. The Gulf of Mexico produces some of the best shrimp available anywhere. Alabama’s nickname is “The Cotton State,” but agriculturally the region yields larger outputs of eggs and poultry, cattle and peanuts. That’s a lot of good eats right there, so let’s get started on our tailgatin’ for UAB.
We already mentioned that peanuts are a prominent crop in the state of Alabama. More than 400 million pounds of peanuts are harvested there annually, generating over $100 million per year for the state’s economy. Only Georgia and Texas grow more peanuts. Obviously, this week’s Tailgatin’ starter is the wonderful peanut. Feel free to indulge in your favorite kind, whether shelled or not, honey-roasted, or mixed with various other nuts. These legumes make a great pre-meal snack on game day, as well as a terrific source of protein. If you’re partying indoors, you may want to go with the already-shelled variety, which are widely available. However, if you’re tailgating outdoors, there is something very satisfying about cracking the shell and digging out the goodies inside. The salt will give you a good excuse to drink more, too. Gotta stay hydrated.
To honor Alabama’s poultry industry, we’re making a cookout favorite today: beer can chicken. This dish sounds intimidating to some, but the linked recipe in the previous sentence will take you step-by-step through the process. If you’re using a small, portable grill, it’s likely that you won’t be able to stand your chicken upright to cook it. If this is the case, you can lie the chicken down and pour beer into the bird’s cavity periodically to get a similar effect. Don’t skimp on the cost of the brew. Nobody wants chicken that tastes like Milwaukee’s Best or Natty Light. Darker beers can give the chicken a richer flavor. Make sure the bird’s temperature rises to 175 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh. We don’t want anyone to get sick on game day.
Embrace the Deep South by rustling up some collard greens and cornbread to go with your chicken. Although she’s from Georgia and not Alabama, Paula Deen is about as southern as they come. Here’s her take on the collards. We’ve got you covered on the cornbread too: this is a good jalapeno cornbread recipe.
Your backup plan this week is simple. If you’re pressed for time or just can’t be bothered to cook, simply grab a bucket of chicken from the local drive-through of choice. Personally, I like Popeye’s spicy chicken when doing the fast food version, but good old KFC original recipe works well in a pinch. Many chicken places offer up collard greens or green beans as a side dish. Biscuits and baked beans are also welcome additions. Remember, lay the foundation. It’s an early game, but you’re not stopping after the final whistle, are you?
Alabama has some decent smaller breweries, but this may present a challenge in finding their products in your area. If you happen to be in Alabama, you might be able to find products from Birmingham’s Avondale Brewing Co. If so, there is not a more appropriate product in their line for a football game than their Battlefield IPA. Ratebeer.com lists Birmingham brewery Good People’s Coffee Oatmeal Stout as the state’s highest rated beer. Coffee and oatmeal are breakfast staples, so this is a natural fit for our purposes, but you will be unlikely to find it outside Central Alabama. Elsewhere, just go with your favorite India Pale Ale for this week’s beer selection.
This week’s cocktail is the Alabama Slammer. A potent concoction of vodka, Southern Comfort, amaretto, sloe gin, and orange juice, this drink will do the job while providing your body with important vitamin C. It’s another noon game, so the orange juice almost makes this drink breakfasty. Almost.
Two American Idol winners and two of the show’s runners up have come from Birmingham, Alabama, which tells you all you need to know about the musical history of the place. They didn’t even give us any of the less sucky Idol winners; instead delivering the likes of Taylor Hicks, Reuben Stoddard and Bo Bice. Yes, Bo fucking Bice. Rapper Gucci Mane is also from Birmingham, so it’s clear that we’re going to have to declare this state a federal musical disaster site and move on. We’ll have to be a bit more creative.
Classic albums are usually considered such for a reason, and the 1967 self-titled debut album from The Doors is definitely a classic album. If you grew up listening to FM radio (or “classic rock” stations, for you younger folken), you’ve heard at least seven of the 11 songs on The Doors. One of those is “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar),” which is how we’re creatively tying this album into this week’s UAB tailgate party. The album contains the band’s breakthrough hit, “Light My Fire,” a song which Ed Sullivan asked them to change for their television appearance. Ed didn’t want them to say “girl we couldn’t get much higher.” The band nominally agreed, but then Jim Morrison sang the original lyrics on the show anyway and even slightly emphasized the word “higher.” The Doors were subsequently banned from appearing on the show thereafter. Ah, rebellious youth.
Eight months after its release, The Doors climbed to No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart in September of 1967. It went multi-platinum and is No. 42 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Simply put, it’s a fantastic collection of vintage rock. Aside from the previously mentioned songs, the album contains the sublime “The Crystal Ship,” one of the truly under-appreciated gems from the band’s catalog. The album also includes the band’s guttural cover of Willie Dixon’s “Back Door Man,” plus “Twentieth Century Fox,” “Break on Through (To the Other Side),” and their creepy, psychedelic masterpiece, “The End,” which featured prominently in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 classic Apocalypse Now, where it fit exquisitely. Below you’ll find “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar).”
One drawback to The Doors is that it’s a very short album, clocking in around the 45-minute mark. So you’re going to need more tunes to get you through the morning, leading up to kickoff—at least if you’re tailgating correctly. You’ve always got the green light to listen to Akron’s The Black Keys, but this week we’re specifically recommending you revisit their 2011 release, El Camino. Just crank up the stereo and rip the knob off for “Lonely Boy.”
Enjoy your tailgate party and have fun watching the Buckeyes destroy UAB.