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The Smoking Musket Tailgate: Horns Down

Meandering into the afternoon kick.

Grilled stuffed flank steak.
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Homecoming week always brings back memories for me. I loved my time in Morgantown and always fondly think about the friends I made there and the fun we had tailgating as students.

This week, though, it seems that Mountaineers on campus and across the globe are remembering one specific moment in WVU Football history: the Horns Down game last November.

Let’s commemorate that event with steak on the grill.

Stuffed Flank Steak

I came across this recipe during my offseason research and wanted to try it immediately. I did and it was awesome. Two things I love about this recipe: 1) it’s incredibly customizable for whatever your taste is and 2) it is a great tailgate dish that can feed a couple of old grads or all the young lads.

Flank steak is a cheap and easy cut of beef to cook. I like to use cheese, fresh herbs and garlic, and a lot of salt and pepper, but you can kick things up if you want. You could use pepper jack cheese, fresh red chilies and cayenne powder for a spicy steak, or layer on the cured meats like prosciutto, salami and/or capicola. Whatever you want, layer it on the steak and wrap it up.

Tie the steak with twine so it doesn’t fall apart while grilling, then skewer the meat with bamboo skewers. Tip: soak the skewers in water for five minutes before sticking them in so they don’t burn on the grill.

Personally, I like cooking the whole rolled flank, then slicing into skewered sections, but most recipes will tell you to slice, then cook. Maybe a quick sear on the outside, one to two minutes per side (there are four), and then slicing to finish on the grill (again, just two minutes per side) is the perfect method?

The point is, each guest will get a pinwheel of steak, cheese and seasonings, and that’s called love.

Grilled Sweet Potato Fries

We all love meat and potatoes. We all love fries with steak (right?). Here’s a slightly healthier option for you that fits in with the southwest feel our visitors from Austin love.

You can boil the sweet potatoes first if you want, as the recipe states, or slice them thinner so the heat penetrates through. Before throwing them on the grill, toss them in all the spices to give them a sweet heat.

Be careful not to have your grill on too high of heat, as these will char easily. If you parboil before, they’ll take about six minutes; if you put them directly on the grill, cook about three minutes per side, then remove from the flame and allow to finish cooking in indirect heat.

Serve these with

Fire Roasted Salsa Verde

I love salsa verde, but it’s not as easy to make as tomato salsa. It requires cooking the fresh vegetables, but that means we can inject more flavor into the salsa before we even combine the ingredients!

You’ll need two large green pepper (poblano or Serrano), two jalapeños, a large sweet onion, as many cloves of garlic as you want and a lime. Take the vegetables (so, not the lime) and throw them on a hot grill for five minutes per side, or at least until they soften up. Peel the husks off the tomatillos, slice open and deseed the peppers, then add them all to a blender. Add some salt, pepper, fresh cilantro to the blender and squeeze the lime thoroughly. Pulse until as smooth or thick as you lick.

Serve this with pita bread, tortilla chips, or serve alongside the steak as a sauce for it!

Pear and Brie Tartlets

Frozen mini phyllo shells are wonderful vehicles to deliver cheese to your mouth. Let’s utilize this great function and add a seasonal fruit. Take the cups out of their packages, line them up on a baking sheet and let them thaw while you prepare the ingredients.

Dice the bear and cut the brie into squares that will fit the bottom of the cup. Tear or cut up the thyme (optional. Place the cheese in the cup, then the pear bits, then the thyme, and finally drizzle honey on top. Pop them a grill with low heat for about 10 minutes, checking on them about six minutes through.

We’re finally the benefactors of afternoon kickoffs, allowing you to cook more food but also enjoy the company of your fellow Mountaineers. As this is Homecoming, I highly suggest you require someone to bring a batch of pepperoni rolls to the affair.

Horns down and let’s win the tailgate!