Friday, March 11, 2011

Tailgating at Bristol Motor Speedway: Bristol Bash 'em Up Paninis

Racing at Bristol Motor Speedway has been compared to "flying fighter jets in a gymnasium" because of it's short track, steep turns, and high traffic. 

The Bristol NASCAR race is next weekend so I wanted to come up with an easy and tasty tailgating idea.  Since that race involves a lot of rubbing, bumping, and outright crashing,  I couldn't think of a more appropriate item than panini, where everything is smashed together! 

To give it a taste of East Tennessee, I revved up this panino with a "hi-octane 'cue sauce" by simply mixing in a little moonshine (now legal!) with a commercial bbq sauce.

I wanted to make sure this was easy enough to do at the track so I made it on a completely portable,  14.5 inch, $30, throw in your trunk Weber Smokey Joe.  I'm not kidding, I bought this grill at our grocery store. 

Bristol Bash 'em Up Panini
source:  NibbleMeThis

1 10" loaf of french bread
2 cups cooked chicken
1 to 2 TBSP of BBQ Rub (I used Albukirky Rub tonight)
3 slices bacon, cooked
3 slices pepper jack cheese
1 sweet onion (vidalia, Texas sweets, etc) sliced into 1/4" slices
4 slices pickles
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 oz Apple Pie Moonshine
1 brick wrapped in foil

Set up your grill for medium high heat.  Place the foil wrapped brick on the grill and allow it and the grate to preheat for about 10-15 minutes.

Whisk together the Apple Pie Moonshine and the barbecue sauce.  The apple and cinnamon seem to enrich the flavors of the barbecue sauce while the "shine" gives it a twang or kick.  TIP:  For tailgating, do this at home and toss it in a cheap squirt bottle.

NASCAR, BBQ, and moonshine share common roots.

Grill the onion slices for a few minutes per side until tender.

Grill the pickle slices for about 2 minutes per side.  Yes....grill your pickles.  No, I'm serious.

Assemble your sandwich as follows
bbq rub
Hi-octane bbq sauce
second round of Hi-octane bbq sauce

If you are a visual learner, here you go....


Cut the sandwich in half.  Place on the grill and top with the brick.  Grill for 45 seconds or long enough to toast the bottom.

Flip, top with the brick and grill another 45 seconds.

We loved this one.  It was a fantastic use of leftovers (bacon and chicken), easy to put together, and did I mention, FAST?

Speaking of fast, if you are heading up to Bristol next weekend, here are some tailgating tips from Kingsford.

NASCAR®  Tailgating Tips for the Track
NASCAR®  racegoers are among the most loyal fans and are legendary for their ability to tailgate in style. To ensure a memorable race weekend, fire up the grill in the infield or cheer on your favorite driver in your own backyard with a few  Kingsford® charcoal tailgating tips.

Pre-Race Check List: The first step to a successful tailgating party at the track is to create a list of what you need to bring. Write down everything from condiments to containers to avoid serving hamburgers without anything to put on them. Plus, buy all supplies, especially food, snacks and drinks, before hitting the road, as prices near the track will likely be higher than at home.

Fill Up Your Fuel Tank: Since you will be transporting food and drinks, invest in a second cooler. Separate raw meats and cooked foods in individual containers and layer with ice to keep them preserved and away from each other. Organize the cooler with drinks on one side and food on the other. Don’t forget to place appetizers on top to avoid digging for the first course.

Secure an Early Lead: Chips and dip make great appetizers for any tailgate party. Try paring tortilla chips with world champion pitmater, Chris Lilly’s, coal-fired pico de gallo for an instant fan favorite. Give tomatoes, peppers and onions a quick turn on the grill before combining with cilantro, garlic, salt, sugar and lime juice to taste.

Speedway Sizzle: Add gourmet taste to grilled favorites like burgers and chicken with marinades. For ultimate flavor, let meat soak in a GLAD® food storage bag in the refrigerator or cooler for a few hours before the festivities. Seafood and vegetables should marinate for no longer than an hour, chicken and pork for two to four hours, and beef can marinate for 24 hours. Try new KC Masterpiece® Buffalo marinade for a great way to add flavor to grilled chicken or pork.
Don’t Over Steer: To ensure a more uniform doneness, let the meat come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before grilling. Also, the internal temperature of most meats will spike at least five degrees after you remove it from the grill. Let it sit or “rest” undisturbed for 10 to 15 minutes before serving to allow the temperature to equalize and reabsorb the internal juices.

Turn Left: When cooking steaks or burgers on the grill, turn the meat just once. For steaks, turn them when the juices start to bubble on the uncooked side (the clearer the juice, the more well-done the meat). Your burgers are ready to flip when you can you lift the patty from the grate without the meat sticking.

Party With the Pit Crew: Tailgates are not only a time to celebrate with friends and family but also a great way to meet new people. Bring extra food and share with others. Be courteous to those around you, clean up after your party.

Instant Replay: Be sure to bring a camera with you.  Having a small tailgating party before a NASCAR® race is a fun experience, one that you will want to document with pictures. Your NASCAR®  race weekend, is an event that you will likely never forget.

Extra Laps: One of the perks to hosting a tailgate party at the track is enjoying the leftovers. Make food that you can cook once and eat twice, so you have enough leftovers to create another meal. From chicken tacos to Philly cheese steak sandwiches, there are limitless options for what you can fix with the meat your guests don’t eat.


  1. This looks great and I love the video portion where it is actually getting stacked. LOVE Nascar. I currently don't have a favorite driver, though. Used to be Kenny Wallace (he's from STL). Edwards is from Columbia, MO (about 1 15 minutes away) but is too arrogant for me.

    Have a great time!! I'm sure those sandwiches will be a big hit.

  2. That animated photo is pretty cool! Sandwich looks pretty good too!

  3. awright smartie did you do that "visual learner" sandwich building slide show? Love it. Everytime I see one of those little grills, I think I should pick one up. Great little size. I still have never purchased a panini grill machine. My grill or grill pan and a foil wrapped brick work great...and the brick takes up alot less room. :-)

  4. The photo is an animated gif. In Elements, stack the photos as layers then click file>save for web and check the animate button.

  5. OK, even though it's related to Nascar, I'm still loving this sandwich :) I also love the sequential picture you put up showing it all stack up! The BH's technician got us some homemade moonshine the other year-- I didn't enjoy it, but everyone else sure did :)

  6. Wicked good animation, great post. Gotta try the brick trick.

  7. Oh wow, love the video!! That's way too cool, lol. Paninis are great, I love how you can put just about anything on them and once you grill them, all the flavours just meld together. I want to make these, they have all my son's favourite ingredients. You need a print option on your recipes. *Sigh* I guess it won't kill me to just copy and paste...:o)

  8. this is like the perfect sammich. love the dummy-proof slideshow :)

  9. Look at you & your visual effects... you are too cool for words my man.

    The panini looks fantastic, especially with the tasty grilled onions.

  10. You, kind sir, are a master of the grill! Love, love,love the video stack. I watched it about, oh, 10 times before I had to go grab some cold grilled chicken and throw some BBQ sauce on it to keep my tongue from licking the screen :-)

  11. I love the animated photo! You do the coolest stuff on this blog! I am going to give the grilled pickles a try; if you say it is good, I know it must be.

    Have a great weekend!

  12. Looks awesome Chris - how can you beat a BBQ panini - and I like your high tech press - much like mine.

  13. Used to go to Watkins Glen (NY) for an annual car race, but I was too young to do anything but eat whatever I was given.

  14. Why is it so hard to get that paninI IS ALREADY PLURAL?????????? PaniniS is redundant. PaninO is singular! One panino, two panini, three panini, four. Hate NASCAR anyway. LOL!!!

  15. Hey. You're up in my old stomping grounds. My family is from Cedar Bluff so not far from Bristol. Small world. Good looks great!

  16. Anon - Probably because I have never seen the singular word "panino" listed on a menu anywhere in the US. Thanks for the education.

    PS: Relax.

  17. i love the visual learner! it just keeps getting better and better. paninis are the best!

  18. Nice post, Chris. And a great tie-in to tailgating.

    @Lea Ann - FWIW, I've made some nice paninos (chuckle) on my George Foreman Grill.

  19. Excellent photographs and grill marks. I am now in the mood for a pannini.

  20. What a great panini! I'm addicted to KC Masterpiece and have to try this! Good deal on the Smokey Joe and the animation is just too cool!

  21. Love the animation, Chris! My Chris' brothers are into NASCAR big time..I'll have to send them this link :)

  22. Chris - That photo in the middle is downright awesome! Look at you go! That is an amazing panini and I love the thought behind "smashing" everything together. Brilliant.

  23. Awww. I just love all those barbeque marks on the sandwich! And I must commend you too for having on of the best best tailgating accessories I have seen so far.


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