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The Smoking Musket Tailgate Menu: Hot Box Wings

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Try these double-cooked chicken wings to level up your WVU tailgate for the Iowa State game this Saturday.

The Iowa State game is always a fun event for both sides. A rivalry born out of two fanbases’ reputations of being rowdy can only mean one thing: Riot Bowl. Also, this is the closest conference foe to West Virginia University and proximity breeds contempt.

As we celebrate our Mountaineer fans, let’s gather around some crispy, juicy chicken wings, a repurposed Appalachian staple and a party drink sure to set the mood.

Smoked + Fried Wings

We haven’t cooked wings at a tailgate this year, and what better week to do than Riot Bowl Week? I reached out to Iowa State superfan and Ten 12 Podcast contributor Jaimie Steyer to ask her where to find the best wings in Ames. She emphatically pointed to Whatcha Smokin’ BBQ in Luther, Iowa, and their Hot Box Wings.

It may seem weird to order wings at a BBQ joint but these wins are smoked on the pit and then flash-fried at the end. I looked them up and… yes, they look and sound delicious.

Though smoked wings give us more flavor, it’s hard to develop the crispy skin we all love on a wing. This process is the best of both worlds (cue Hannah Montana track).

To make sure you achieve the crispiest skin, set the wings on a cooling rack in the fridge overnight so the skin is completely dry. You can use a grill set for indirect heat and smoke or use your smoker.

If you don’t have a deep fryer or air fryer, you can use a skillet and oil to fry the wings in small batches. Dry off the oil and then toss in whatever BBQ sauce you want to use.

Bacon Cornbread Sliders

Rarely do I provide a recipe of my own, but you’re in luck this week. I was trying to find a way to incorporate corn into this tailgate and I really didn’t like any of the options but then an idea hit me. Here’s a brunch snack that is sure to please.

Cornbread is an Appalachian staple but it’s not just us mountain folk who love it. The flatlanders in Iowa love their corn in all forms, including cornbread. We’ll combine this with honey (or jam, if you like, brie and bacon to create an elegant handheld sandwich.

  • Make cornbread muffins with your favorite recipe (mine is from Dixie Lily).
  • While the bread is cooling, cook the bacon. Let cool on a paper towel to drain fat.
  • Slice muffins in two horizontally.
  • Spread or drizzle honey (or jam) on the bottom slice, layer bacon, then brie or goat cheese, and another drizzle of honey. Cover with the top slice.

These can be made ahead of time so your guests can start eating as soon as they arrive.

Vodka Cran Punch

For years, my dad’s signature drink was always vodka cranberry with lime. He’d always mix one up before a party or just because he wanted to at the end of the day.

To level this up for the Riot Bowl, let’s turn that into a party punch.

In a five-gallon beverage cooler, dump in:

  • 2 jugs cranberry juice cocktail (Ocean Spray, duh)
  • 1 L your favorite vodka
  • 2 cans cranberry lime seltzer water
  • 1 L club soda
  • 1 cup triple sec or orange juice
  • Add ice until the beverage cooler is full

This is the penultimate tailgate of the season, which seemed like it’s gone by way too fast for as long as it took to arrive. It’s not fair that we weren’t able to fully experience college football this season, but I hope that these tailgate menus helped you and your loved ones enjoy Saturdays in the fall.

Let’s win the can!