How to Tailgate — New Orleans Style Slideshow

Ambiance Music

Get a little background music with Dixieland jazz, Pete Fountain, Louis Armstrong, and The Neville Brothers. "You want to touch all the senses and music is an easy way to do this," says Cahn.

Go on a Journey

Go to a travel agency and ask for (or print out from the Web) some New Orleans-themed posters to hang on the wall.

Mardi Gras Theme

Since the Super Bowl is happening so close to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, invoke the Carnival season by decorating the table with beads and masks. On your invitation, feel free to ask guests to bring their own throws and masks either to wear or to help decorate.

Be Mindful of Your Home

iStock/Beverly Vicital

Since February often brings inclement weather, bring the tailgating party inside. Since you won’t be partying on asphalt, keep in mind your carpets — you’ll want to serve food and drink accordingly.

Commercials are Important!

Don’t think of hosting a tailgating party as Thanksgiving dinner. And don’t bring out food at halftime: The commercials are almost as big of a deal as the game

Think Small

Serve small portions of foods that aren't cumbersome to eat. Make a pot of jambalaya. Serve small plates or bite-sized portions so people don’t spill. For each party, you might serve two to three varieties of chips in individual baggies (it’s flu season!) with two to three dips. 

Seafood Soiree


Serve shrimp, oysters if you can get them, cocktail sauce, and crackers. Or, opt for Angels on Horseback.

Go Local

If you have a Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, a popular chain in New Orleans, grab a box of boneless chicken. "There’s nothing worse than finding chicken bones in a planter the next day because your guests didn't know where to throw out the bones," says Cahn.

Skip the Burgers and Hot Dogs

Instead of hot dogs and hamburgers, get three to four varieties of sausages (include one veggie sausage) and cut them up into bite-sized pieces and serve on toothpicks with three to four types of mustard (don’t forget Zatarain’s Creole Mustard). 

Party Nuts

Get a few different kinds of nuts like pralines and cashews and serve in individual bowls each with a spoon (or, to make it even simpler, serve nuts in individual cups or Ziploc bags) instead of one big bowl. "At some of these parties, you don’t know how many hands are in the bowl," points out Cahn. 

No Crystal, Always Plastic

Don’t use your best crystal. This is football! Make it easy on yourself and serve drinks in plastic cups. Write your guest’s name on each cup so there’s less waste and no confusion later. "We’re not having a debutante ball here," says Cahn. 

Hurricanes are a Must

In addition to beer, serve a New Orleans-inspired drink, like the classic Hurricane from Pat O’Brien’s bar. To simplify even further, just add a healthy pour of rum to fruit punch. "It’s like a hurricane with no wind," says Cahn.

Colorful Desserts

For dessert, opt to order a New Orleans classic, the King Cake, which can be found online at or  If you can’t obtain one in time for your tailgating party, Cahn suggests getting donuts and sprinkling green, purple, and yellow colored sugar (Mardi Gras colors) on each for a similar effect. And since King Cakes contain a plastic baby, slip a small plastic toy or coin into one of the donuts. According to New Orleans tradition, whoever finds the toy hosts the party the next year. "It’s a great way to perpetuate the party," says Cahn.

Be Responsible

Make sure you know going into the party who the designated drivers will be, and offer several nonalcoholic drink options for them. In addition, offer a cab service to guests going home.

Host/Hostess Gift Ideas

If you’re not hosting the tailgating party, give a great gift to the host or hostess, such as a gift certificate to Stanley Steamer or a housecleaning service the next day. Or: Buy a football along with a few Sharpie pens. Have everyone at the party sign the ball and give it to the host or hostess at the end of the party. It makes for a nice keepsake.  "After all, they’re the MVP for having 30-some people in their house on game day," says Cahn.

Click through for NOLA recipes! 

Joe’s Jambalaya


“This is my favorite recipe because you can put just about anything in it,” says Cahn. “If it walks, crawls, swims or flies, it can be thrown into jambalaya. Everything goes into one pot so clean-up's a breeze.” (12 to 15 servings)

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs. sausage cut in 1/4-inch slices
  • 5 cups chicken stock or water flavored with chicken bouillon
  • 1 tbs. minced garlic
  • 4 cups long grain rice
  • 2 tbsp. Kitchen Bouquet (browning agent)
  • 2 tbsp. seasoning salt
  • 2 cups chopped green onions
  • 4 cups chopped onions
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 cups chopped green bell pepper

Season chicken with salt and pepper; brown in hot oil in 8 quart Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add sausage; cook 5-to-7 minutes. Remove chicken and sausage from pan; set aside. Add onions, celery, green peppers and garlic; cook, stirring 7-10 minutes or until vegetables begin to wilt. Stir in chicken stock, reserved chicken and sausage, seasoning salt and Kitchen Bouquet. Bring to a boil. Add rice and return to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 10 minutes; remove cover and quickly turn rice from top to bottom completely. Replace cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Stir in green onions.

For brown jambalaya, add 1 heaping tbsp. brown sugar to hot oil and caramelize, or make a roux, or use Kitchen Bouquet. For red jambalaya, add approximately 1/4 cup paprika or use 1/2 stock and 1/2 tomato juice or V-8 for your liquid. For seafood jambalaya, add cooked seafood when rice is cooked. If using an electric stove, reduce cooking time by 3-4 minutes.

Recipe Courtesy of Joe Cahn 


Angels on Horseback

  • 6 slices smoky bacon
  • 12 large oysters

Stretch the bacon slices on a rack atop a baking pan and put it about four inches under the broiler at 550 degrees. Broil for about two minutes, until the fat in the bacon begins to turn opaque and some of the fat has been rendered out. Remove and drain the bacon. Leave the broiler on.

Cut each slice of bacon in half. Wrap a half slice around each oyster, and attach with a toothpick. Place the oysters on the rack under the broiler and broil for about 2 minutes, turning once, until the edges begin to crisp.  Makes 12. 

Recipe courtesy of NOMenu


  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 6 tsp. butter
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans (roasted, optional)

Combine all ingredients and bring to soft ball stage (238-240), stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir until mixture thickens, becomes creamy and cloudy, and pecans stay suspended in mixture.

Spoon out on buttered wax paper, aluminum foil or parchment paper. Makes 1 to 50 pralines, depending on size. When using wax paper, be sure to buffer with newspaper underneath, as hot wax will transfer to whatever is beneath.

NOTE: To roast pecans, bake them on a sheet pan at 275 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until slightly browned and smell permeates.

Recipe courtesy of Joe Cahn