Secret Tailgate Recipe: Dave’s Awesomest Buffalo Wings

My buddy Dave makes this recipe every time he hosts the Rose Bowl tailgate party in his man cave, a pretty impressive converted garage behind his house.  He has a BBQ with a huge flat-top as well as a grill area and says that it is the secret to the way his wings are cooked. He takes these on the road as well, but uses a smaller griller.

His secrets are:

  • First marinate well.
  • Cook through on the flat-top
  • Transfer to the grill so that the grease can drip off and the wings get a crispy finish.

He achieves all this awesomeness on his fine Char-Broil Combination Charcoal Grill and Gas Grill with Side Burner.

Char Broil

Char Broil

It can truly cook anything so you never (or rarely) need to step into your actual kitchen.  Combines gas cooking and charcoal cooking so you can cover the full range of smoky tastes.  This has three burners under its sealed lids, perfect for cooking roasts, bakes and smoking.  The charcoal is easily accessed and removed and the whole thing is easy to clean.

Of course, when he is tailgating on the run, he takes his sweet little portable Coleman Roadtrip Grill:

A nice little compact BBQ, it heats up to a surprising level for something so small.  Gas but you can add your smoker chips to it to give food your unique flavor and totally collapsible for travel. Cast iron grates and 285 square inches of cooking space. Operates off the small propane bottles (always take 2 with you as a backup). Super easy to clean!

Coleman Roadtrip Grill

Coleman Roadtrip Grill

Also, Dave’s marinade is high on bourbon, beer, butter, olive oil and other flavors.

The Recipe: Dave’s Awesomest Buffalo Wings.

  • 2 pounds of wings.


  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tiny Ancho chili finely chopped (discard seeds and ribs unless you are crazy about heat). (These are the dried, smoked ones).  Dave snips them with scissors in a cup rather than chops them.
  • A knob of ginger peeled and finely grated
  • The white base of a stalk of lemon grass – finely sliced
  • 1 purple onion finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Some finely chopped bacon fat.
  • Pinch of salt
  • A few shakes of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut cream
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • A couple of shots of bourbon & a splash of beer.
  • More beer to top up if pre-boiling.


  • Fry the first 5 ingredients in the oil gently stirring and not allowing it to brown.  Add the salt and the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil.  Cool until really cold.
  • Drop the wings into the COLD marinade (don’t mix the hot and cold) and make sure they are well coated and then leave overnight.
  • BBQ when you need to and spoon some of the marinade over to keep the moisture and flavor happening.

Now, if you are travelling and your tailgate party is happening in a car park, his trick is to boil the wings in the marinade topped up with some beer to cover: Boil for 5 minutes rapidly, then let them cool in the marinade, put in the fridge overnight and take it to the party.  You will notice it has transformed into a fatty jelly full of wings. With your tongs, pick these out and put on the flat-top, then the grill as above.


NOTE:  Don’t recycle the marinade.  Too risky with chicken.

Further note:

When our BBQ died unexpectedly after years of service, I ended up cooking some of these on the griddle side of Mom’s Panini maker.  Heat it up well with the lid closed then cook with the lid open.  Works well!

Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler

Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler

Cuisinart 5-in-1 Griddler

This compact 5-in-1countertop unit works as a contact grill, panini press, full grill, full griddle, and half grill/half griddle.  It is dishwasher safe so very easy to clean up after the cookout.  The temperature is quite high for an electrical appliance and if you use the side with the grill bars, you get a nice, BBQ appearance.  Very handy for emergencies.  Of course, it’s not portable unless you are going somewhere powered with electricity.

MSRP                         = $185

Amazon price = $89.99

If you have any cast iron sizzle plates, they will also do the job.

Cast Iron Sizzling Steak Plate

Cast Iron Sizzling Steak Plate

Cast Iron Sizzling Steak Plate

Here’s a great tool for when you are tailgating at home.  It’s a sizzle plate that not only lets you cook food at a high temperature but when you serve it, it keeps right on sizzling and stays hot through the whole meal.  A nifty wooden base (pine) for these large sizzle plates means that you won’t melt your plastic table.  It includes a lifter for taking the cast iron part off the heat and putting on the wooden part.

Size is a bit over one serve of a T-bone steak with say a roast potato and onion.  You need to buy a few of these, season them well by oiling them and baking them in the 400 °F oven and you will have them for life and beyond.   Don’t clean them with perfumed detergent ever as they retain the smell.  In fact, I only ever clean them by scraping off any bits then dousing with a nice hot wash and then oil them before air-drying for the next use.  Heat up to 400°F in the oven or on the cooktop until super hot and sizzle those wings on the stove top!

MSRP = $20.50