When I was a kid, hot dogs, peanuts, and, yes, boxes of Cracker Jack were the standard concessions at every baseball game we attended, from the local AAABA team to the Big Leagues. These days, ballparks are falling all over themselves to provide fireworks with their food options, supersizing everything from pretzels topped with crab dip to pulled pork sandwiches with pierogies nestled inside the bun. All of those in-stadium concessions are most definitely a draw for a traveling eater like myself, but it adds up.
As much as my husband and I love heading across the river to spend an afternoon watching the Mets and stuffing our faces with meatball sliders at Citi Field, sometimes it's much more relaxing and enjoyable to watch a game at home with a few friends and a maxed-out spread of our own.
This menu riffs on a few favorite baseball foods — both past and present — but with a grill-friendly focus that makes it easy to tailgate from your car, your backyard, or wherever you want to get a group together to watch this year's All-Star game. I've included a number of make-ahead components that come together as a buffet of make-your-own dishes. Come game time, you'll be able to kick back and root, root, root for the home team — and maybe play a little catch after the game if you're not too full.
My All-Star Baseball Menu
- Main: Grilled Beer & Maple Bratwurst with Red Pepper Relish
- Nibbles: Grilled Nacho Platters
- Drinks: Cherry-Vanilla Soda
- Dessert: Rum & White Chocolate Caramel Sundaes
Your Party Plan
What to do ahead:
- Make the cherry-vanilla syrup and caramel sauce up to one week ahead.
- Make the red pepper relish up to three days ahead.
- Marinate the bratwurst the night before the party.
What to do the day of the party:
- Prep the nacho topping components — shred the cheese, make guacamole, pico de gallo, or lime crema, if desired, and place all toppings in serving bowls for guests to serve themselves.
- Pre-toast the bratwurst buns, if desired.
- Bring the red pepper relish and caramel sauce to room temperature before serving.
Your Shopping List
To buy at the store:
- Sweet cherries (1 pound)
- Red bell peppers (1 pound, or 2 large)
- Chile pepper, like Fresno or jalapeño (1 medium)
- Fresh oregano (1 small bunch)
- Heavy cream (1/2 cup)
- Cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
- Monterey Jack cheese (8 ounces)
- Precooked bratwurst sausages (8)
- Hot dog or hoagie buns (8)
- Tortilla chips (1 16-ounce bag)
- Dark beer (1 12-ounce bottle)
- Spiced rum (2 tablespoons — optional)
- Seltzer or other soda (1 liter)
- Vanilla bean (1)
- White chocolate (6 ounces)
- Maraschino cherries (1 jar — optional)
- Ice cream (1 quart)
- Any extra optional toppings for nachos (see recipe)
- Kosher salt
- Olive oil
- Red wine vinegar (2 tablespoons)
- Balsamic vinegar (1 tablespoon)
- Maple syrup (2 tablespoons)
- Sugar (1 3/4 cup)
- Light corn syrup (2 teaspoons)
- Stone-ground mustard (3 teaspoons)
- Bay leaf (1)