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The Smoking Musket Tailgate: Wake up Midwestern taste buds

Let’s fire up the grill and our palate this Saturday.

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Surprisingly, West Virginia and Kansas will meet in a football game that carries significant weight in the Big 12. This is the conference opener for both teams, who desperately want to keep the momentum from week three chugging. This means that WVU fans need to turn up the heat this week in support of our team.

One of the running jokes about white Midwestern folks is that ranch is spicy to them. While ranch does contain black pepper. Playing into this joke, I wanted to curate a tailgate menu that puts some spice into your mouth and leaves you wanting more.

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Chicken Thighs

In many grilling recipes, you do one of two things: dry rub the meat or glaze/sauce the meat at the end of cooking. I love this recipe because it uses both methods of seasoning the food. Also, the combination of intense spice with the sticky-sweet honey will make these flavor boats a hit at your tailgate.

Personally, I think this recipe could use more head. If you want to kick it up a notch, I’d suggest adding a ½ teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper or Mexican chipotle powder. I’d also suggest you splurge for local honey. This will give you a stickier coating on the chicken and also supports local bee farmers.

Cheese-Stuffed Grilled Peppers

Jalapeño peppers are a gameday favorite and this recipe kicks everything up a notch. Instead of using sliced jalapeños, cooked open-faced, these larger peppers are stuffed with three kinds of cheese, then grilled.

This recipe uses a mix of peppers, but choose a good selection of green peppers that are larger than jalapeños to give your tailgaters more substance. Anaheim or poblano would probably be best.

Costa Rican Black Bean Dip

Traditionally, American eaters stop before the Yucatan Peninsula when exploring food “south of the border.” The fact is, delicious foods come from all over Central America. This black bean dip will be the perfect appetizer to set out before you fire up your grill and you can make it ahead.

For an authentic Costa Rican taste, use Salsa Lizano. If you can’t find that at your local supermarket, try to find another picante salsa, as chunky salsa wouldn’t blend well into the black beans. You could even use sriracha if you are a lover of that chili paste.

Hopefully, this spicy tailgate menu will lead to scorching of the Jayhawks on the football field. It’s a big game for our Mountaineers, so let’s make sure we prepare ourselves accordingly!