When Steve Huff, local epicurean and lawyer at Marlow, Woodward & Huff, Prof. LLC, thinks about his ultimate tailgate recipes, he knows what tops his list.

“It’s kind of cool outside and we are getting deep into football season,” he said. “Chili, hot dogs and finger foods are just great for tailgating. They just fit the mood for this time of year.”

Recently, Huff dusted off his chili recipe and prepared some of his fixings for Gourmet Guys, a local fundraiser event featuring an evening of fine food, relaxing music, and great conversation at the Yankton Community Library.

“I went with chili for that event because it’s pretty people friendly,” Huff said. “It’s accessible to make and doesn’t require a ton of ingredients, but it’s also tasty and almost better when you reheat it.”

During the last 15 to 20 years, Huff has scoured tailgating events, perfecting his chili recipe along the way. From Colorado to Iowa, he has honed his recipe and field-tested it at local sporting events.

“When I first moved to Yankton, I actually won the annual chili cook off at United Church of Christ,” Huff said. “There were people there with engraved chili pots, ladles and awards, but I decided to throw my hat in the ring. There were people all dressed up with fancy booths, but I was focused solely on the chili, and people seemed to enjoy it a great deal. I actually won with basically the same recipe I did for Gourmet Guys.”

However, it wasn’t the first time that Huff had found his chili to be agreeable with a large amount of people. During his time at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), Huff and his debate buddies represented their school at the collegiate national debate tournament and chili cook-off.

“The largest tournament in debate at the college level is held at UNI and they would do a chili cookout as a fundraiser,” Huff said. “There were teams from Stanford, Harvard and Baylor that would come to the event. We got this cooking station going and people just lost their minds over our chili. They were showing up hours in advance to get a bowl of it. By the time we were seniors, we were known as the guys from UNI with the good chili that everyone wanted to hang out with.”

While Huff’s chili recipe is already good enough to win over the hearts and minds of tailgaters across the nation, he claims that part of the fun of cooking chili is sampling other recipes and perfecting your own.

“I just love chili,” Huff said. “It is one of those things where it doesn’t matter if you’re at church, a family picnic or formal potluck, chili always seems to be there and people are always looking forward to it.”

Huff recommends pairing his chili with Steiner’s hot dogs, pickles in a blanket, and an amber beer.


Cooking equipment: crock pot, frying pan, can opener, wax paper (optional), cooking sheet (optional)

Ingredients: Sausage, Beef, or both; black, pinto or chili beans; can of beer; Tabasco Chili Starter; red or white onions (optional); green peppers (optional); jalapeno brine (optional); whole tomatoes (optional); crushed garlic (optional); salt (optional); olive oil (optional).While there is a lot of room to play with any chili recipe,

Huff recommends a jar of Tabasco Chili Starter as the base for his recipe. He also recommends following a 1 to 1 to 1 ratio for mixing ingredients: For every pound of meat in the recipe, add one jar of Tabasco Chili Starter, one can of beans and one can of beer.

“At most grocery stores, they sell tabasco sauces, but Tabasco also has a chili mix kit you can buy,” Huff said. “It comes in a glass jar and makes one quart of chili. It’s basically tomatoes, peppers and veggies blended together.”

Chili enthusiasts can get started by browning their meat of choice in a frying pan. If peppers and onions are desired for the recipe, Huff recommends sautéing them in the leftover grease from the browning of the meat before adding them to the crock pot. Combine the meat, veggies, beans, beer, chili starter and pickled jalapeno brine (optional) in a crock pot and let it simmer together for about an hour, or until the beans are heated through.

“I recommend using black or pinto for the beans and Sam Adam’s Oktoberfest or Sam Smith’s Imperial Stout for the beer,” Huff said.

For a thicker chili with a fire-roasted taste, Huff recommends oven-roasting some fresh tomatoes and blending them into a tomato paste to be added to the recipe.

“Take some fresh tomatoes from the store or your garden and cut them into slices about quarter-inch think,” Huff said. “Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Then put some parchment paper down on a cooking sheet and lay out the tomato slices. Top them off with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add crushed garlic to taste, and roast for approximately 40 minutes. Then scrape them into a blender and add to the chili.”

Huff also recommends shredded cheese, sour cream and crackers as welcome additions to any chili bowl. Leftover steak or brisket can also be added to the dish.

Steiner Hot Dogs:

Cooking equipment: smoker or grill

Ingredients: hot dogs, buns, pickled jalapenos (optional)

Any hot dogs can be used for this recipe, but Huff recommends going with precooked hot dogs from Steiner’s Meat Locker in Yankton. Brown them off on the grill or in smoker, and serve them up with chili and cheese or pickled jalapenos on top.

Pickles in a Blanket:

Cooking equipment: spreading utensil, toothpicks (optional)

Ingredients: corrugated pickle slices, sliced ham, cream cheese, tabasco sauce, pickled jalapeno brine (optional).

“I start by mixing the cream cheese, tabasco sauce and jalapeno brine together,” Huff said. “Then I dry off the corrugated pickles with a towel so that the spread sticks better, and apply the cream cheese mixture. Then I top it all off with a stack of sliced ham.”

A toothpick can be stuck through the middle of each pickle in a blanket to better secure the toppings.Beer Recommendations:“I’m a beer person for this one,” Huff said. “If you are going to go down the beer road, I recommend Mexican beers or pilsners as a good match.”

Huff recommends Negro Modelo, Pacifico and Sam Adams Oktoberfest.