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Add Tequila To Wings For the Ultimate Tailgate

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Every so often, we scour the site for cool recipes from our community that we then test, photograph, and feature—this one comes from longtime Food52er thirschfeld.


Despite taking place around a game, tailgating—especially football tailgating—is serious business. While athletes prepare for sprinting and tackling and superhuman feats of strength, fans gather to eat, drink, and rally before cheering their teams to glorious victory. Both require planning and preparation (and sometimes a little luck) to pull everything off.

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As someone who attended college in the South, I’ve seen my fair share of tailgates. The best ones didn’t have to be fancy, but they did have to have good food. Chili, sliders, chicken fingers, dips—tailgates require spreads of flavor-paced, easy-to-eat dishes.

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Thirschfeld’s Longhorn Tequila Wings are the ultimate tailgate superstar. They’re spicy and sticky from a tequila-pepper sauce, yet slightly crunchy from a little dip in hot oil. The masa coating also gives them a nice tenderness.

He developed the recipe after experiencing the University of Texas’ legendary football tailgates, which he also credits for igniting a his passion for food.

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Photo by Julia Gartland

“I have been on the field at Notre Dame for the home opener and I have covered lots of college bowl games,” he says. “But to this day I have never seen more dedicated fans than at the University of Texas. It was an experience to behold.”

Making these wings requires a similar dedication. You have to brine them, fry them, and sauce them just before serving. If you think you've chopped dressing ingredients extra fine, go through one more time. They should cook on contact with the hot wings. Also, the drumettes require a little extra attention:

“When I say French the drumettes I mean push the meat and skin down from the wing tip end toward where it would have attached to the breast so you have a ball of wing with a bone handle, so to speak.”

Equally important? Thirschfeld says to serve them with a Dixie beer, Shiner Bock, or a T'N'T (tequila n tonic with lime).

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Longhorn Tequila Wings

72b8c92f c97c 49cf 8fc2 4b08462521f6  me thirschfeld
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Serves 4-6

for the dredging mix:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups instant masa harina
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground Mexican oregano

For the wings

  • FOR THE BRINE:
  • 1/2 cup reposado tequilla
  • zest of one lime
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 7 1/2 cups cold water
  • 18 whole chicken wings, tips discarded, drumette separated, 36 pieces, French the drummettes
  • FOR THE DRESSING:
  • 1 tablespoon red onion, minced very very finely
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh garlic, very very finely minced
  • 1 to 3 fresh cayenne peppers, seeded and very very finely minced, one can be a lot of heat so 3 is for the brave
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon reposado tequila
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • kosher salt
  • peanut oil for frying
  • FOR GARNISH:
  • 5 fresh white corn tortillas cut into 1/16 inch thin strips
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What's your favorite tailgate food? Any dishes you'll make for the upcoming Super Bowl?

Tags: chicken wings, tequila, football, tailgating