Eat ‘Em Up: Giving Thanks Mark and Erik, Erik Pollom and Mark Crouser November 25, 2014 Eat 'em Up, Features Game Weeks on The Salute There are a lot of things that I love about Thanksgiving. The whole point of the day is to recognize all of our blessings, and spend time with family and friends. Many of us take time to throw the football around, then we eat too much and settle in to watch how people with actual talent play the game. It really is the tailgate party of holidays. In a way, KU is the perfect opponent for Thanksgiving weekend. It’s the final tailgate of the year – Senior Day. A win (with a little help from a loss above us) will put K-State in the top ten and keep us in the Big 12 title race. The opponent is almost literally a turkey. It’s a low-stress celebration in the middle of the day, when ‘Cat fans near and far can make the trip without getting up before sunrise or arriving home in the early hours of Sunday. What better time to gather the K-State family at the table, watch grandpa Bill show us how to carve a bird, and spend some time acknowledging all the things that have made this season great? You may think you know where I’m going with this theme when it comes to recommending tailgate food, but you’d be wrong. The last thing most people want to eat this Saturday is turkey. If you’re like me, you will have had tons of it on Thursday, followed by leftovers in the form of sandwiches (go ahead and pile some leftover stuffing on there) on Friday. What the last tailgate needs is a food that celebrates football. Luckily, one of the top foods in the football cookbook is different enough from turkey, but still serves as a metaphor for devouring our feathered foes from the Flaw on the Kaw. There’s simply no way I can let this season go by without recommending hot wings. Every once in a while I’ll see a tailgate that has brought wings in a grocery store bucket or from an over-priced and overrated restaurant (usually already cold), but seldom do I see people make their own. It’s too bad, because it couldn’t get much easier, and you can have yourself a pile of wings for a fraction of the price. Most grocery stores carry chicken wings already separated into the pieces you’re used to getting at the restaurant. The Hy-Vee by my house carries packages of 18-20 for about eight bucks. You can drop them in a portable fryer if you have one, but I think they’re just as good (if not more flavorful) when cooked on the grill, and the clean-up is much easier. I start with an even bed of coals across the bottom of the grill. You want the coals to be good and hot. Coat the grilling surface liberally with spray oil. I use canola because it’s relatively flavorless, but olive oil works well, too. Cover the grill with wing pieces, and then spray them with oil as well. This is a little trick I developed to help crisp the skin like a deep fried wing. If your grill is hot enough, a light coat of oil will fry the outside while they cook. Thicken your sauce for better results. Bring paper towels. When the wings are done cooking, you’re ready to sauce them. I usually bring at least two kinds of sauce to account for differing tastes. We all know the options are almost infinite, so bring whatever you like. I always have a Buffalo sauce, and some kind of sweet barbecue. If you can find it, Rufus Teague “Honey Sweet” is a great sweet ‘cue sauce. For the Buffalo sauce, I recommend making your own. Here’s the recipe I use, but I make a slight modification. Follow the recipe just as it reads, but at the end I mix some corn starch with water, and whisk it in a little bit at a time until the sauce is almost (but not quite) gravy-thick. This comes from a little tailgate trial and error. If you don’t thicken the sauce, then it will thin out considerably when you add wings to it that are still hot from the grill. The result is pretty messy and the sauce doesn’t stick well to the wings. Make the sauce the night before, and put it in the fridge. Whatever sauce you use, put some in a gallon plastic bag when you get to the lot. When the wings are done, throw them in the bag, seal it, and shake until they’re coated. You don’t need to preheat the sauce beyond room temperature, just make sure it’s not still cold. When a pile of freshly-sauced wings comes tumbling out on a plate, it’s a beautiful thing . Big Flavor Foods Need Big Flavor Beers If you’re eating something like hot wings, you need a beer that can compete – something unapologetic that won’t disappear under the sniffle-inducing buttery fire in your mouth. Something turned up to eleven, or in the case of Tallgrass Brewing Company’s Ethos IPA, turned up to 110. I’m talking about 110 IBU (international bitterness units), which on the scale of hoppy beers is somewhere just shy of chewing on raw hops right off of the vine. Don’t be afraid, though. This beer is an award-winner. It recently took the gold medal at the 2014 U.S. Open Beer Championships. Plus, it’s in cans, so you don’t have to stop waving it over your head if the authorities come by during your favorite song. Yes, I know you’re not normally prone to that kind of thing, but one more detail I should mention about Ethos is that it clocks in at 6.8% ABV and the cans are 16 oz. tall boys… So, maybe you are. And with that, we conclude a full season of Eat ‘Em Up. We hope you’ve found at least some inspiration in our recommendations. When Saturday rolls around, make sure you take the time to pause once in a while and take it all in. You’re at a K-State tailgate. It simply doesn’t get any better. We’ll see you on the lot.