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The Smoking Musket Tailgate Menu: Kansas State at Home

Meat and potatoes… and an Asian dish?

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

With the conference opener upon us, it’s a great time to start throwing down great recipes on the grill. And, much like Dana Holgorsen and Jake Spavital will throw some unique looks at the Wildcats on Saturday, we’re going to take some traditional foods to the next level. We have some traditional grilled foods with delicious improvements and a slightly exotic food item that still pays homage to the state of Kansas.

Ranch Cheddar Burgers

As we’ve discussed before, Kansas is the country’s leader in beef production, and burgers are one of the top three go-to tailgate foods. But let’s not be ordinary. These burgers will give you an unexpected eating experience; instead of putting the ranch and cheese on TOP of the burger, we’ll put them IN the burger. Brilliant.

Now, before we begin, we need to discuss are two rules for making a burger. The first rule, you actually want fat in the meat, no less than 20 percent (80/20). The second rule, don’t manipulate the meat much, so no pressing and mashing.

Obviously, we’re breaking rule two a little here, as we’re going to have to mix the ranch, shredded cheese and meat together, but it’s worth it. These are perfect to make the night before and store in freezer bags, separated by wax paper, too, so you those flavors really get into the meat.

Simply put a pound of ground beef in a bowl, empty a packet of ranch dressing mix on top, then one cup of shredded cheddar (or whatever cheese you choose) into the bowl. Mix it around, but try not to press or squeeze the meat. Then, form into patties and store. You do want these to be about room temperature before throwing them on the grill, four minutes per side, with grill closed.

Serve these with lettuce, tomato or whatever toppings you want. Hell, throw a slice of cheese on top, too, what’s the worst that could happen?

Grilled Hasselback Potatoes

What goes better with a burger than french fries? Well, I don’t like deep frying at a tailgate because you have to use so much oil, then dispose of it. However, I really like this method of cooking potatoes on the grill because it makes them easily shared and super delicious.

Hasselback potatoes are sliced thinly, but only about halfway through the potato. This means you put the whole potato on the grill, but the top is open, allowing the heat to cook it through. I have to be honest, I didn’t know that this technique had a specific name, but apparently, it’s of Swedish origins.

These do take a bit of love. After you slice them, wrap them up in aluminum foil and put them in an aluminum tray on the grill for about 10 minutes, turning once. Take them off and brush melted butter and garlic on top, pushing some of it into the creases. Enclose the potatoes, making a pouch out of the foil, and cook for 45 minutes. Then, open the pouch and add the cheese and cook for another five minutes.

You can cut these into quarters yourself, or allow your guests to cut off as much as they want. You can even add more cheese or bacon bit on top after cooking.

Spicy Edamame

Kansas is also one of the nation’s leaders in soybean production. If you didn’t know, edamame is just immature soybean pods, so this is another nod to the agricultural strength of the Sunflower State.

The cool part about grilled edamame is that you can buy a bag of frozen edamame the night before and throw them in your cooler and they’ll be ready to cook the next day at the tailgate. Also, this recipe calls for aluminum foil, but if you can find an aluminum grill tray, you’ll have better success.

Simply toss the thawed edamame with some olive oil and grill them on medium high for about 10 minutes, turning a couple times. After, sprinkle some Japanese chili pepper seasoning (or any chili seasoning) on top and toss them again. Serve immediately with a side or soy sauce.

This menu requires a little more cooking and grill space than normal, but with a 3:30 p.m. kick, you’ll be able to cook and serve everything and spend time mingling with friends.

Remember, Mountaineers don’t lose tailgates!