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Ballpark food goes on the road

04/02/2013 12:21 PM

04/02/2013 11:44 PM

The Texas Rangers are bringing ballpark eats to the streets with the debut of the baseball club's new food truck. Dubbed the Ballpark Express and painted with flaming racing stripes, the 18-foot Ford F-550 features a full kitchen and an exterior flat-panel TV to display menu items.

There's already a Twitter handle (@TXBpExpress) and a Facebook page. But don't expect to find the truck at your local food park. This one primarily caters private events, from tailgate parties to wedding receptions.

"We're not trying to compete with food trucks on the street corners," said Shawn Mattox, general manager of the Metroplex office of Delaware North Companies Sportservice, the Rangers' food and beverage partner. "We want to bring the ballpark experience to your next catered event. We wanted to share what we're doing here at the ballpark with the community, whether it's the Boomstick or a ballpark hot dog."

The truck is the first for Sportservice, and Mattox said he's not aware of another food truck associated with a professional sports team. When the Ballpark Express isn't booked for home-game tailgate parties, fans could find the mobile kitchen parked nearby, providing another outlet for the ballpark's increasingly popular creative concessions.

"There's a group of us at the end of the season that brainstorms for the next year [based on] what our fans like and what are new trends in food," said executive chef Cris Vazquez, who has been with the ballpark for seven seasons and has more than 22 years of experience in corporate kitchens. He added that the ballpark's big-food craze has been a huge hit.

Truck menu items, based on the ballpark's offerings, are customizable upon booking. This year's choices include a lineup of gargantuan gourmet options. New colossal creations include the Murph-A-Dilla, a 24-inch quesadilla topped with smoked brisket that pays tribute to outfielder David Murphy, and the football-sized Beltre Buster, a 24-ounce burger named for heavy hitter Adrian Beltre. Both hefty items are $26 and can be found at the ballpark's new Texas Sized 24 concession stand.

Fan-favorite menu package ideas for the food truck include a taste of the ballpark's Taqueria stand, including breakfast tacos, pulled chicken tacos and brisket nachos, and a sampling of the Smokehouse 557 stand, which includes chopped beef sandwiches, smoked turkey legs and grilled corn on the cob.

"I'm really proud of what chef Cris and our culinary team, as well as our operational staff, does here at the ballpark," Mattox said. "We have a lot of fun with the food that we serve and I think it shows. We felt it would be neat to take that show on the road."

For fans craving a taste of the ballpark from their own kitchen, Vazquez shares the recipe for the Beltre Buster.

"You need bigger bowls for this," he advised.

Beltre Buster

1 1/2 cups Montreal steak seasoning (or desired steak seasoning)

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

4 pounds ground beef

2 eggs

1 large onion (sliced or julienned)

12 slices applewood-smoked bacon

4 extra-large hamburger buns (see note)

1 cup roasted red pepper mayonnaise (recipe follows)

12 slices pepper jack cheese

1. Preheat grill to medium.

2. In a small bowl, mix the spices together.

3. In a large bowl, mix the ground beef with eggs, using your hands to ensure the eggs are incorporated well into the beef.

4. Add in the spices, and mix well. Portion the ground beef mixture into four equal-sized round patty shapes.

5. Grill the beef patties 7 to 8 minutes on each side (for medium well).

6. Meanwhile, saute or grill the onion until caramelized, and keep warm. Fry or grill bacon slices until crispy.

7. Toast the buns, then spread roasted pepper mayo on both halves of each.

8. Place three slices of cheese, three slices of bacon and some onions on top of each patty, and serve between buns.

Note: The ballpark custom-orders challah bread from Dallas-based Empire Baking Company, and the large buns are occasionally available via special order from its retail store during baseball season (5450 W. Lovers Lane, 214-350-0007). You may also use 7- to 8-inch round loaves of paesano bread or focaccia.

1 12-ounce can or jar roasted red peppers, drained

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon oil

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1. Saute the peppers and garlic in the oil for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and let cool at least 15 minutes.

2. In a blender, combine the pepper mixture, cilantro and mayonnaise, and blend until smooth.

Roasted red pepper dressing

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