By Kerry J. Byrne
Cold, Hard Football Facts Tailgate Champ
There’s a great book about Alabama football that came out a few years ago called “Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer
” by Warren St. John. It’s the story of the obsession of University of Alabama football fans.
The phrase “rammer jammer yellow hammer” is part of an old Crimson Tide chant. If you saw the on-field interviews after Alabama’s 21-0 win over LSU in the national title game Monday night, you heard the rumble of the chant over and over in the background:
We just beat the hell out of you!
Rammer jammer yellow hammer
Give ‘em hell, Alabama!
One of the famous Alabama fans St. John meets in "Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer" is the Hot Food Man. He makes scorching hot tailgate snacks, including something called hot pickled ‘maters. They’re green cherry tomatoes pickled with jalapeno (or other hot) peppers. The tiny tomatoes absorb all the heat . You pop them in your mouth like candy and wash ‘em down with cold beer.
The Mighty CHFF Tailgate Team loves hot spicy flavors and was fascinated by the story. So we hunted down the author who, in turn, put us in touch with Larry Northington of Sulligent, Ala. – that’s right, the Hot Food Man himself.
We could barely understand his slow, gravelly, Alabama drawl ... sounded like Bear Bryant himself. He could barely understand our rapid-fire Yankee speech pattern compounded by all the complexities of the Boston accent.
We finally hurdled the 50-foot-high communication barrier like an Edwin Moses of ‘maters and were able to piece together his recipe.
We made hot pickled ‘maters for the first time a few weeks ago, thanks to a garden with a bounty of cherry tomatoes and unusually hot jalapenos (a type of pepper that’s not usually very hot). They came out much better than anticipated and absorbed a lot more heat than I expected. Your chili-head friends will dig ‘em. We also pickled some cukes this way, too. The picture there? Our very own hot pickled 'maters and hot pickled cukes from the CHFF root cellar. We're going to eat some today!
The Hot Food Man’s Hot Pickled ‘Maters
Mason jars with caps and lids
A big pile of green cherry tomatoes
A smaller pile of jalapeno peppers (or other, spicier pepper)
Clean jars, caps and lids according to directions that come with mason jars. Slice peppers in half, making sure to keep seeds with the peppers (the seeds have all the heat). Fill the jars with about 1 part hot peppers and 5 parts tomatoes – a few pepper halves at the bottom, a bunch of tomatoes, a few more pepper halves in the middle, and more tomatoes. Stick a couple sprigs of fresh dill in the jar.
Pour white vinegar, enough to fill each of your mason jars, in a pot. Fill another, larger pot, with water. There should be enough water to cover mason by at least an inch. Bring both vinegar and water to a boil. When vinegar comes to a boil, quickly remove from heat. Pour hot vinegar into jars filled with peppers and tomatoes, leaving an inch of room at the top of the jar. Cover the jars with caps and lids. Carefully place the jars into boiling water. Boil for about 10 minutes, then remove jars and set aside. You should hear the center of the caps snap down after a few minutes, indicating that the jars are sealed and ready. Let cool and store in a cool dark place until ready to break open at your next tailgate.