Don’t bruise the bourbon, and other tailgate party advice
Zoe and Dan Barron, of Wilmette, mix up Apple Pie Drinks before a Northwestern Wildcats game. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Bourbon Baked Beans
(From Marietta Paynter)
4 16-ounce cans baked beans
¾ teaspoon dry mustard
1 cup chili sauce
1 tablespoon molasses
½ cup bourbon
½ cup strong black coffee
1 16-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Combine all ingredients in a 4½-quart casserole. Bake uncovered for one hour at 350 degrees. Stir once or twice. Any more stirring and you bruise the bourbon.
Updated: November 8, 2012 9:16AM
It’s a sure sign of fall when trails of grill smoke rise above the parking lot of Ryan Field in Evanston on certain Saturday afternoons.
It’s tailgate season, and Northwestern University Wildcats fans have back-of-the-truck football party foods tackled. One group of about 50, many of them alum, has huddled in the same spot in the west lot before every Northwestern home game for decades. Their party menu can be just as exciting as a Cats game in overtime.
Glenview resident Marietta Paynter joined them a few years ago with her son John and and daughter-in-law Bonita Paynter. Marietta has attended NU home games for 63 years. Her late husband, Northwestern University alum John Paynter, was the director of the NU Marching Band from 1953 to 1996.
Marietta wasn’t able to participate in the group’s tailgate picnic on Sept. 22. But it was her family’s annual day to host, so she made her daughter’s Bourbon Baked Beans and sent them to Ryan Field with Bruce and Bonita. “Mom couldn’t make it, but her beans did,” Bruce said.
The recipe, which is her daughter’s, is one that Marietta contributed to Willie’s Wildcat Cookbook (Northwestern University, 2011, www.WildcatCookbook.com). Her daughter-in-law Bonita produced the front cover layout and design of the 358-page paperback collection of recipes from NU alumni and friends.
Marietta’s contributions to the cookbook could raise eyebrows. Who would think to include strong black coffee in baked beans? “My theme was recipes with unusual ingredients,” she said. “You wouldn’t think of putting coffee in a crock pot of baked beans, but it works.” The same is true of the bourbon, which, in a nod to James Bond, the recipe warns against bruising by stirring too much.
Bruce made brats poked and soaked in beer and his Atomic Cabbage to accompany the beans. He enhances the cabbage slaw by mixing in red cider vinegar dressing while it is boiling. “The dressing seems to attach to the cabbage and onions better when it is added while boiling,” he said. “It seems like it activates everything.” He topped the slaw with a colorful sprinkle of paprika.
Soups and other foods were also prepared in the group’s kitchen tent. With so many appliances going, a Boy Scouts troop is hired to watch over the group’s microwaves, grills and crock pots during the game.
Another tent serves as a living room. “We lost our area rug, but that was okay because it was getting old,” Wilmette resident Zoe Barron explained with a laugh. She and her husband, Dan, have partied with the group for years.
Dan’s Apple Pie Drink, another cookbook favorite, makes frequent appearances at Ryan Field. Barron boils one gallon of apple juice; one half gallon of apple cider three cups of sugar; and eight sticks of cinnamon. He refrigerates the mixture overnight and adds a fifth of grain alcohol on game day.
“Because of the grain alcohol, you don’t realize you are drinking alcohol at all. You think you’re eating a piece of apple pie, but then all of a sudden you can’t stand up,” Zoe Barron joked.
Willie’s cookbook highlights tailgate advice, but in her good humor, Barron offers what is perhaps the best recommendation to new tailgaters: “Have a good time and bring lots of wet wipes.”
Proceeds from Willie’s Wildcat Cookbook go to the Wildcat Fund, benefiting all 19 Northwestern athletic teams. The cookbook is available at several Evanston locations including Let’s Tailgate, Beck’s Bookstore, Perennials, Foodstuffs, Folkworks and the Norris Center Bookstore.