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The Smoking Musket Tailgate Menu: A Cyclone is not a bird, but we’ll eat it?

Yinzer chicken wings on the grill!

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It’s Riot Bowl Week. One thing that annoys me about Iowa State athletics is that their nickname is the Cyclones, but their mascot is a cardinal. Now, I know it’s because a cyclone is not a real thing so they needed a mascot that was a real thing and chose the bird that has the same name as their school colors. It’s logical, but it’s still wrong.

That said, we’ll utilize this bird mascot as the protein for our tailgate menu this week! That’s right, it’s chicken wings week here on the Smoking Musket Tailgate Menu. Nothing fits the spirit of a rivalry better than cooking the other team’s mascot!

Heinz 57 Wings

Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of Heinz 57 sauce, as I have a general aversion to any steak sauce. In fact, the only reason I have steak sauce in my fridge is to use it to make barbecue sauces. But man, it’s pretty good on chicken wings!

Chicken wings are hard to truly perfect on a grill. You want the skin to be crisp, but not burn and you need to fully cook the insides. The best way to grill chicken wings is to use high indirect heat, as this will take the wings away from the actual flame and allow them to cook all the way through.

This recipe doesn’t instruct you to season the wings before cooking, but I highly suggest a dusting of salt and pepper, plus a little bit of oil just to make sure they don’t stick to the grates. Preheat one side of your grill to high, then throw the wings onto the other side of the grill. Cook for 10 minutes per side and then brush sauce on each side, cooking for another five minutes per side.

When grilling or baking wings, I love to cook the sauce onto the wings at the end of the cooking process. With the Heinz 57 sauce, it creates a wonderfully sticky finish as well. Once finished, you can toss them in the sauce again, or just take them off the grill to cool. Serve these with ranch or bleu cheese dressing.

If you have a charcoal grill, use a charcoal chimney to keep the charcoal in the middle of the grill and put the wings on the outer edge.

Parmesan Ranch Corn on the Cob

Obviously, the stereotype of Iowa is that all they eat is corn. It’s not wrong, it’s not right, but corn on the cob is fantastic, so we’ll play up this stereotype. To feed into the Midwestern jokes even more, we’re adding ranch!

For tailgating, I honestly suggest cutting each ear in half before grilling. It’ll feed more people and make more servings. But if you’re just cooking at home for your family, go ahead and treat them to a whole ear of parmesan ranch corn on the cob.

Remove the husks from the ears (maybe do this before the tailgate). Melt the butter in a saucepan on the grill, then mix in the ranch seasoning and paprika. Brush the butter on all sides of the corn, then sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. Grill them naked at a lower temperature or with indirect heat, turning until cooked, 10-15 minutes total.

Grilled Pierogi Dippers With Garlic Aioli

This Tuesday was National Pierogi Day and I really think we should celebrate. I’ve experimented with different methods for pierogis for a while and I’ve learned that grilling them is actually a very effective way.

Grilling pierogis allows them to crisp up better than if you boil or sautee them, bringing them to a perfect texture for dipping. You can use whichever variety of frozen pierogis (regular or mini, even) you want, but they need to be frozen before you throw them on the grill. This goes for homemade ones as well.

Toss the frozen pierogis in some oil with salt and pepper, then throw them on the grill flat side down (this matters!). They should take five minutes per side, but you want them to be mostly thawed before you flip them.

While the pierogis are grilling, you can whip together this easy garlic aioli. You could also make this before the tailgate, but it’s a quick dip to make. Simply mix three parts mayo with one part lemon juice and mix together with some salt and as much minced garlic as you like (so a whole bulb for me!).

Serve the pierogis alongside the aioli and either dollop it on top of them or dip them into it, whichever way you want to combine them!

As the fall weather finally comes to Morgantown, I encourage each of you to fully embrace the tailgate spirit. With the 4 p.m. kickoff, you can even go through two meals, so don’t be afraid to bring all the food and drinks with you as you win this tailgate!