Is the Ford Ranger Raptor the perfect vehicle for a tailgate BBQ?
It's a FoodTribe/DriveTribe crossover
I have to confess that, as a boring English person, the whole 'tailgating' thing has always sounded more like the act of following the car in front too closely rather than hanging out with your friends and having a party out the back of a pickup truck.
But FoodTribe Editor Rachael Hogg has assured me it's a thing, and that we should try it. I raised an eyebrow (over Slack), and she went off to source what she thought was the perfect setup for trying it. Her contacts in the Ford Press Office had a Ford Ranger Raptor delivered to my house, and she convinced the people at Kamado Joe to deposit 35kg of ceramic cooking implements to her house.
We met up in Surrey and went about our incredibly wild party. I'll explain why the Raptor proved a most excellent choice, then hand over to Rachael who can talk about the bit where we made ourselves smell of burnt wood.
The location for our tailgate party-for-two was a remote spot in the Surrey Hills that I know from my various YouTube car reviews. Sadly the recent storms have made the narrows lanes to reach this remote spot somewhat… filthy. Excellent. Because if the Raptor does one thing well, it's storming through mud and mess with a sense of total invulnerability.
As we turned off the B-road and hit the farm trails, I stuck used the Raptor's wheel-mounted buttons to stick it in Baja mode. I got flashbacks to the truck's launch event, when I got to drift and jump the thing around the sand dunes of Morocco. It was just as entertaining on the lanes to the shoot location, drifting gently and easily through mud-caked corners and splashing through deceptively deep puddles. While Rachael followed gingerly in her long-term Honda Civic, I stormed onto the verge for the shoot at about 30mph, with the Raptor's off-road spec Fox shocks soaking up the bumps as if nothing could stop me. Luckily the brakes did.
Once Rachael had emerged from the childish mist of mud and grass in my wake, we set up for lunch. With the Raptor's Mountain Top roll cover slipped back, the load bed made the perfect place to sit for grub. The truck's enormous (for Europe) ride height meant we even got a decent view over nearby hedges so we could chat to cows while we, erm, barbecued some.
Speaking of food, over to Rachael.
The ultimate tailgate barbecue: Kamado Joe Jr and the Ford Ranger Raptor
I think my attempts of convincing Tim that a tailgate barbecue is an ideal way to spend an afternoon/few days has gone well.
I mean, I got him a Kamado Joe Jr and a Ford Ranger Raptor to play with, so he can’t complain with that setup right?
Well, I guess he can complain, if he doesn’t have any delicious barbecued meat to go on his awesome barbecue and eat standing in the back of his awesome car.
I wanted to keep it relatively simple, because you don’t have access to a huge amount of stuff in the wilds of Surrey, so it was smash burgers, barbecued butternut squash chucked directly on the coals, finished off with a whole roast chicken – because why on earth not.
I spatchcocked the chicken before we headed out, drizzled it with olive oil, and rubbed it with dried thyme, dried basil, dried rosemary and lemon zest. You need your grill a bit cooler for the chicken (around 150C), with indirect heat, so we popped the chicken on last and left it to cook for an hour and a half. I even got Tim to eat some salad with it, although he did cover it in barbecue sauce first (the chicken… and the salad).
We started out with smash burgers, which are super simple and can release all that pent up aggression you might have from trying to drive a Ranger Raptor down some tiny Surrey lanes.
Here’s how to make ‘em.
And the butternut squash? Just chuck it directly onto the coals, whole, and turn it occasionally so all the flesh is burnt. It’ll take about an hour.
The Kamado Joe Jr weighs just 31kg, so you can heave it around with you wherever you go. You won’t want to be doing a marathon while carrying it, but popping it in your car/truck/van for a trip away will be no bother at all.
Do make sure you’ll be staying in the same spot for a while though. The thick-walled ceramic body of the Kamado Joe locks in heat (which is a huge plus point), but obviously staying hot means you need to be in the same place. That was my excuse to be out the office for the whole day anyway, rather than just an hour or two...
And find out which would be perfect for you.