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Tailgate snacks from local chefs

Wow your parking lot party goers + tailgate attendees with these chef approved snacks.

Epping's chicken satay dish with a dipping sauce and cucumbers

Chicken Satay from Epping’s. | Photo courtesy of Epping’s on Eastside

Table of Contents

Time to dust off the tablecloths and bust out tailgate chairs — it’s football time in the Bluegrass, Lexington. UK hosts Ball State this Saturday, Sept. 2 at 12 p.m., so we asked the pros to help us plan the ultimate tailgating experience.

Wow your guests with these four recipes from chefs at local favorites:

Chicken Satay — Epping’s on Eastside


  • 5 lbs of chicken breast pounded thin + cut into strips
  • 7.25 fl oz coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 lemongrass stalks, finely grated
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 3 thai red chilis (or two serrano peppers), minced
  • 2.5 oz fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. dry turmeric


  • Combine all ingredients, except for the chicken, in large bowl with whisk.
  • Add chicken strips and allow to sit in refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
  • Preheat grill or outdoor flat top to medium-high heat.
  • Meanwhile, skewer the strips of raw chicken with bamboo or steel skewers. Note: if using bamboo skewers, soak in cold water for 30 min prior to use
  • Season the chicken lightly with kosher salt and grill on both sides until you’e reached an internal temp of 165 degrees.
  • Allow to cool slightly, garnish with fresh herbs , and serve with a side of peanut sauce.
Lamb kabobs on a grill

Lamb Korfa from Chef Tyler McNabb. | Photo courtesy of Holly Hill Inn

Lamb Kofta — Holly Hill Inn


  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Large pinch salt
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 2 Tbsp duck or chicken fat, room temp
  • 1 cup onion, grated
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp chopped mint leaves
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground sumac
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ras-el-hanout or 1/4 teaspoon more of each of the other spices
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes


  • Combine quinoa with water + salt in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let sit, covered, for 15 minutes. Uncover and let cool.
  • In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, lamb, onion, duck fat, herbs, and spices. Mix gently, just until the spices are evenly distributed. Try not to overmix, so the kofta remains tender when cooked.
  • Pre-heat the grill or skillet with olive oil
  • Take a portion of meat in your palm and gently flatten. Place a skewer on top of the meat and close your hand, folding the meat evenly around the skewer.
  • Repeat to form more kofta. Skewers can be prepared a day or two ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. Grill the kofta until browned + cooked through for ~6 to 10 minutes. (If pan frying, shape the meat into 4-inch patties.)
Grilled cheese sandwiches featuring spiced onions and mayo.

The Duke is a Sri Lankan spin on a grilled cheese sandwich. | Photo courtesy of Tuk Tuk Snack Shop

The Duke — Tuk Tuk Snack Shop


  • 2 Tbsp neutral oil (such as avocado or grapeseed)
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp tamarind concentrate
  • 1 serrano pepper
  • 8 oz. low moisture Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2 oz sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1/4 red onion, brunoise (aka finely diced)
  • 1/2 c. Mayo
  • 1/4 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. Kosher Salt
  • pinch Black Pepper
  • 8 slices Texas Toast
  • Mayo for breads as needed


  • Stem, de-seed, and brunoise the serrano chili, set aside.
  • Prep the seeni sambol onions by sauteeing the first six ingredients above
  • Make your filling by combining mozzarella cheese, sharp cheddar, brunoise onion, mayo, brunoise serrano chili, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
  • Prep the sandwiches: Place about 3 Tbsp of the filling, top with seeni sambol onions, and close the sandwich
  • Brush outsides with mayo for color, then cook on a pre-heated griddle over medium-low heat until seared golden brown and melty — ~3 minutes each side.
A slider with a burger, fried green tomato, bacon, and cheese.

The Fried Green Tomato Slider from Merrick Inn. | Photo courtesy of Merrick Inn

Fried Green Tomato Sliders — Merrick Inn


  • 12 buttered + grilled Brioche slider rolls
  • 1 lb Merrick’s house blend of ground beef + finely minced pecan wood-smoked bacon
  • Merrick’s steak seasoning (to taste)
  • 6 slices smoked sharp cheddar cheese
  • 6 fried green tomatoes
  • 12 strips candied bacon
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Chili mayo
  • Makers Mark BBQ sauce

For the fried green tomatoes:

  • 1 thinly sliced green tomato
  • 1 cup Merrick’s Flour blend
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Oil for frying

For the chili mayo:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp chili sauce
  • 1 tsp Merrick’s steak seasoning
  • Mix all the ingredients together into a small bowl until well combined + set aside.

Directions for Fried Green Tomatoes

  • In a shallow bowl, whisk together the egg and milk.
  • Dip the green tomato slices into the egg wash, allowing any excess to drip off.
  • Coat each tomato slice with Merrick’s Flour blend, pressing the flour onto both sides of the slices.
  • In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F
  • Carefully place the coated tomato slices into the hot oil and fry until they turn golden brown, ~2-3 minutes per side.
  • Remove the fried green tomato slices and place them on paper towels to drain excess oil. Set aside.

Directions for building the sliders

  • Season the ground beef + bacon mixture with Merrick’s steak seasoning and form into slider-sized patties.
  • Grill or cook the patties to your desired level of doneness.
  • In the last moments of cooking, place a slice of smoked sharp cheddar cheese on each patty to melt.
  • On the bottom half of each Brioche slider roll, place a small amount of shredded lettuce.
  • Top with a patty, fried green tomato slice, and a strip of bacon.
  • Spread a generous amount of chili mayo on the top half of the Brioche slider roll.
  • Put slider together and serve with house-made kitchen chips + a side of Makers Mark BBQ sauce for dipping.
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