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The Smoking Musket Tailgate Menu: Matinee in Austin

Love yourself with smoky, sticky foods.

NCAA Football: Baylor at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

As much as we can rag on Texas fans and their fair-weathered support of their football team, we cannot bash the culinary scene in Austin and at Longhorn tailgates. Texas has so much good tailgate food to offer, it would be a shame to not take from them for our own purposes.

Whether you’re tailgating in Austin or having your friends and family over for a gameday party, these recipes will make you feel at home in the Hippie Haven of Texas.

Brisket Burnt Ends Tacos

When in Central Texas, eating brisket is a must. Well-smoked brisket may be one of the most beautiful sites in the culinary world, but brisket is a hard meat to smoke correctly. You can easily overcook parts of the meat, and some portions of it will not tenderize properly anyways. This is how burnt ends came to be.

Basically, brisket burnt ends are cubed portions of the fat side of the brisket, called the point. You can try to cook the brisket whole, which will take about nine or 10 hours, or you can cut the point off and cook it individually. The latter will take about six or seven hours.

Cook your brisket point at 250 degrees until it reaches an internal temp of 185 degrees. Remove it from the grill and immediately slice it against the grain, then slice it again to make cubes. You’ll hopefully see a scintillating pink smoke ring around the meat.

Put the cubes in an aluminum tray, then, pour your favorite BBQ sauce. You’ll want to put them in a 300-degree smoker (or turn your grill up higher) to finish cooking for another two hours or so, until the liquid has caramelized.

Jalapeño Cilantro Slaw

Good Texas tacos are topped with a vinegar-based slaw, but this slaw uses mayonnaise to cool down the spicy jalapeño. This will go well on top of the sweet and smokey burnt ends, all laid on top of a corn tortilla.

You can shred all of the ingredients in a food processor or just take two bags of pre-shredded slaw mix and add the julienned jalapeño and chopped cilantro. The dressing, though, could use either the honey or the suggested substitution of agave sugar.

Assembling the tacos: Throw your tortillas on the grill for about 30 seconds, until they are warm, maybe even slightly charred. Place the burnt ends in the tortillas, dash some hot sauce on top (optional), then top with the slaw.

Grilled Sweet Potato Salad

Sweet potatoes are great in the late fall. This salad will bring out the flavors of the southwest and give your guests a different angle on a potato salad. This recipe could easily be assembled at your tailgate or you can prep it the night before and finish on the grill.

Here is the split-preparation way to make this recipe:

First, slice the sweet potatoes into thin rounds, and save them in a zip-top bag. Next, add the corn, beans, bell pepper, onion and avocado to an air-tight container. Toss those ingredients a bit and then add diced avocado on top. Finally, make the dressing by adding the lime juice, salt, pepper and chopped cilantro to a mason jar, then seal.

At the tailgate, fire up your grill, then add a tablespoon each of olive oil and cayenne pepper, toss the potato rounds in the bag as the grill heats. Grill the potato rounds for eight minutes per side, then remove from the grill. Toss the cold ingredients in a bowl as the potatoes cool. Quarter the rounds and add them to the bowl. Pour in the mason jar contents and toss.

Remember, By-Godders, they may think they’re better than us, but we definitely have more fun and we don’t lose tailgates!