By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Aug 31, 2013 at 5:07 AM

As the embers of one tailgating season begin to cool in Milwaukee, others are just bursting into flame up in Green Bay.

We all know how to slap some burgers and brats onto the hot iron, but what if you want to take your stadium grilling to a new level?

Well, we asked barbecue chef extraordinaire, Zachary Rosen, who helms the kitchen at Big Daddy’s Brew & Que at Bayshore Town Center for his advice on how to score a touchdown at every tailgate (or backyard grilling session).

"Ribs are a perfect tailgate food because they are easy to prepare, but definitely not what guests expect at a tailgate," Rosen says. "You want to cook something simple that everyone will love and be surprised with."

Remember to plan ahead. Whether you’re making ribs or steak or brats, make sure you do your advance prep work in, well, advance. Marinate your meats with whatever spices or sauces you plan to use. That way, you’ll have time to cook and enjoy your food before kick-off.

Advance planning is also key when it comes to ribs, says Rosen, who suggests adding your favorite rub and then smoking, roasting, braising or simmering the ribs.

Braise or simmer the meat using a four-to-one mixture of beer, water and salt. For every four cups of water, use one cup of beer and a pinch of seasoning salt to bring out the flavor. Chefs can also roast the ribs in an oven set to 250 degrees for about two hours.

When cooking is complete, rub lemon juice on the ribs and season to taste. Then wrap the ribs in plastic wrap and head out.

"Lemon juice enables your favorite seasonings and rubs to stick to the meat better," Rosen says. "By allowing the seasonings to soak into meats, guests will be able to taste bold flavors throughout."

When you get out there, fire up your coals. Rosen prefers charcoal grills and suggests a mix of charcoal and wood lump to create a bolder flavor.

Place charcoal in the grill on one side. Put your smoke box with a bit of hickory and applewood on the other side. If you don’t have a smoke box, wrap the wood in aluminum foil. Poke a few holes in the foil so smoke can escape. Light the coals and allow them to heat for 15-20 minutes. Coals that are too hot will cook the meat too quickly. If they’re not hot enough, you’ll still be out in the lot cooking at halftime.

While the coals heat up, brush the ribs with your favorite barbeque sauce. When the heat is ready, cook the ribs for just four minutes per side over the coals to warm them up and get the juices flowing.

Then move them over to the smoke side for about 15 minutes to allow them to finish cooking without burning.

When they’re ready, pull them off and slice them apart every few bones.

"Make sure to make enough food for your crew and a little extra for the neighbors next to you, or your ‘new best friends’ as I like to call them," Rosen says.

As for sides, Rosen recommends chips and dip, potato salad and baked beans and, of course, a nice, cold drink.

Chef Zachary’s Tailgate Ribs

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 cup of beer
  • ½ teaspoon of seasoning salt

Other Ingredients:

  • Rack of ribs
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

For Smoking:

  • Season ribs with your favorite rub.
  • Smoke.
  • Wrap in plastic wrap.

Braise or Simmer:

  • Combine marinade ingredients and add to pan.
  • Braise/simmer.
  • Brush lemon juice onto ribs. Add seasonings.
  • Wrap in plastic wrap.


  • Set oven temperature to 250 degrees.
  • Add marinade ingredients to a large oven pan.
  • Place rack of ribs in pan. Put in the oven, cook for two hours.
  • Remove ribs from oven. Let cool for five-to-ten minutes.
  • Brush lemon juice onto ribs. Add seasonings.
  • Wrap in plastic wrap.

Grilling Directions:

  • Add charcoal to one side of the grill, the smoke box to the other side of the grill.
  • Place ribs on the grill over charcoal.
  • Add favorite barbeque sauce.
  • Cook each side for four minutes.
  • Push ribs to the side of the grill where the smoke box is housed.
  • Continue cooking for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from grill. Slice and serve.