Tigers pitch new ballpark food: brisket-stuffed muffins and more
Tickets are still available for the Detroit Tigers’ opening game. Also available once you get inside Comerica Park, and new for the 2018 season: a brisket and cheddar-stuffed cornbread muffin.
You’ll also find coney dog pizza when the Tigers face the Pittsburgh Pirates at 1:10 p.m. next Thursday. But that’s a holdover from last year — unlike, say, Justin Verlander.
What’s new and enticing, like Miguel Cabrera’s pain-free back, are a Sy Ginsberg corned beef sandwich and the Ode to Detroit dog, a natural-casing frank smothered in brisket chili, drizzled with habanero queso cheese sauce and topped with green onions.
The Tigers held a coming-out party at noon Friday for the latest culinary rookies from executive chef Mark Szubeczak.
Szubeczak said his main objective is taking "real" food that is trendy and current in the food scene and restaurants and bringing it to the ballpark with high standards in mind.
"Bringing great quality food, no scrimping on quality," he said. "We're working with the best from local farms, working with Sy Ginsberg corned beef, the best of the best ... I'm afforded to be able to use whatever I like to make our creations, so that's the beauty of it. We have no limit on the quality of the foods that we do."
Szubeczak says the other side to that is bringing that quality to a large volume of people.
"We have to feed it to tens of thousands of people all at one time, so we have a huge market," he said, adding that they smoke 1,000 pounds of meat daily. "That's just what keeps it fun, creative and diverse so that kinda keeps the spark for us to bring more to the table."
The Detroit Tigers Friday also revealed details about this seasons themed events and packages, like Princess Day on May 27 when fans can get a Old English "D" tiara. Bachelors and bachelorettes can party at Comerica Park with group packages that include T-shirts and a special goblet for the engaged.
Back to the munchies. In the food court, at various snack stands and in the grab-and-go section, you will come across:
■Halal knockwurst, even if that sounds like an oxymoron.
■A porchetta sandwich with smoked porchetta, queso fresco, pickled onion and scallion chimichurri, even if most people don’t quite know what porchetta, queso fresco and chimichurri are. (In order: Italian pork roast, a mild, milky cheese, and a South American sauce with parsley and garlic.)
■A power greens salad with broccoli, kohlrabi, kale, Brussels sprouts, golden beets, some other stuff and poppy seed dressing, even if that sounds more like Ferndale than Fenway Park.
■New dessert offerings include an ice cream sandwich doughnut and Nutella egg rolls dusted with powdered sugar
Price tags for these new items weren't immediately available.
Historically, most of the Tigers’ new food items have flamed out like Jim Walewander. (Don’t remember him? That’s because he flamed out.)
Two years ago, for instance, there were pork rind nachos and the brat pop, a flattened, grilled bratwurst patty dipped in pancake batter and deep-fried.
In 2015, there was a hot dog topped with potato chips and French onion dip. The year before that saw the poutine dog, forgotten by all except the handful of people who ordered one and then wondered why.
It’s all part of the fun of going to the ballpark and the excitement of spring. The Tigers have a new manager for 2018, Ron Gardenhire, and a flock of promising youngsters.
If they don’t hold your interest, there’s always the ultimate Southern burger, with jalapeno pimento cheese, crispy fried green tomatoes, lettuce and country ground mustard.
From various other compass points, Comerica Park will offer a New Orleans-style muffuletta sandwich, an Italian grinder, a wet burrito Caprese salad and Buffalo cauliflower, which is exactly what it sounds like — cauliflower bites tossed in spicy red buffalo sauce, accompanied by celery sticks and blue cheese dipping sauce.
Throw in pimento cheese and pretzels, a cheese blend served with pretzel crisps, and the nacho burger, topped with cheddar cheese, cotija cheese, tortilla chips, salsa and jalapenos on a brioche bun, and that’s the Class of 2018.
There’s still no Verlander, but look at all he’s missing.
Melody Baetens contributed