Throw The Best BBQ This Summer!

posted on 5/6/13

It’s May–finally. The long winter months are now behind us and we can all embrace the outdoors again. It’s officially acceptable to start scraping down your grill and marinating your meats for barbecue season. I consider the month of May to be the start of summer, so there’s really no better time to start planning for your summer’s first cook out. Inviting your guests to bring some of their favorite summer recipes is a great way to lighten the workload while enjoying new dishes. We’re kicking off this summer with a simple (yet delicious) guide to barbecuing. Fire up the grill because we are kicking off the summer with a simple and elegant guide to hosting a good old fashioned American barbecue.

Humanity as a whole may not agree on a favorite meat or meal but with a little planning you will easily be able to provide guests with classic barbecue staples they will love. Before you plan your menu, remember that some people are cursed with food allergies. Unless you have a stockpile of EpiPen and happen to be well-versed in anaphylaxis shock, it’s always good to ask your guests if they have any allergies or dietary restrictions. Gluten-free folks will love you if you serve some gluten-free, tapioca-rice buns. Check out the gluten-free friendly brand Udi’s. Your vegetarian friends can easily be satiated with a few veggie burgers.

We’ll get to the classic dishes every cookout requires but first let’s begin with the sauces. There’s no denying that a simple burger is delicious on its own. But never underestimate the power of slathering a burger with some tasty condiments. Your table should have plenty of classic options: mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, and relish. Give your guest’s taste buds an extra treat with some of these delicious sauces.

Louisiana Remoulade

Serious Eats

Serious Eats

Bless the French for bringing us the remoulade sauce. And Bless the good people of Louisiana for making it their own. Though traditional remoulades are served with seafood dishes, this kicked-up version from Serious Eats is great on a burger.

What you need:
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon hot sauce (bonus points if it is Louisiana style)
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons capers, chopped rough
1 teaspoon mild paprika
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 scallion, chopped finely
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt.

What you do:
If you’re strapped for time, this recipe can be made the night before. Mix together the mayo, mustard, parsley, lemon juice, whole-grain mustard, capers, garlic, Worcestershire, scallion, paprika, salt, and cayenne pepper. Let it sit for at least an hour and serve.

Bacon Jam

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart

You may be asking yourself, “why would I spend the time it takes to make bacon jam when I can just fry up some bacon and slap it on my burger?” An understandable question since the idea of bacon jam is a little strange. Here are three simple reasons why you should make and serve bacon jam at every possible function. First, it will make your entire house smell like bacon and that is just a heavenly possibility. Second, it’s easy to make one big batch. Finally, Martha Stewart’s recipe is downright delicious.

What you need:
1 1/2 pounds sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 medium yellow onions, diced
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup brewed coffee
1/4 cup maple syrup

What you do:
Cook the bacon in a skillet on medium-high heat, occasionally stirring, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is slightly browned. This should take about 20 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to let the grease drain. Keep about a tablespoon of fat in the skillet and add onions and garlic, cooking until the onions are translucent. Add vinegar, sugar, syrup, and coffee and bring to a boil. Stir and scrape the browned bits from the skillet for about two minutes. Stir in the bacon. Transfer this mixture to a slow cooker and cook on high, uncovered, for about 3 1/2 to 4 hours. After that, transfer the mixture to a food processor and pulse it until it’s coarse. Let it cool and serve!

Chipotle Mayo

Big Girl's Small Kitchen

Big Girl’s Small Kitchen

Simple. Classic. Easy. Big Girl’s Small Kitchen’s recipe is so good, you’ll probably have to make an extra batch in the middle of the barbecue.

What you need:
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 lime, juiced
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon adobo sauce

What you do:
Mix all the ingredients together and garnish with a little cilantro if you have any. Let the mix cool for at least an hour before serving.

With tasty sauces out of the way, it’s time to move on to the meat. If it is within your budget, get a few different types of meat. Your guests will love you for it. Beef burgers are great, of course, but try and spice things up with lamb or turkey.

Stuffed Sliders



Serving sliders is a great way to let you guests mix and match what they like. Epicurious offers a simple way to set up a slider station. You and your guests will be able to pair different meats, cheeses, and toppings all night. This recipe can easily be doubled if necessary.

What you need:
3 pounds turkey, lamb, pork, or beef
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed with garlic press
6 ounces cheddar, feta, blue cheese, gouda, pepper jack, or whatever your little heart desires, cut into small, 1/2-inch chunks
30 of the smallest slider rolls you can find
toppings: lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, coleslaw, raw onion, sauteed onions, barbecue sauce, ketchup, mustard, mayo

What you do:
With your hands, gently combine meat, cheese, eggs, parsley, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Using a 1/4 cup measure, form meat into small meatballs. Push a cube of your chosen cheese into the center of each ball and cover it in meat. Slightly flatten each ball of meat into 2-inch patties. Preheat your grill’s burners on high, covered, for around ten minutes. When you’re ready to cook the burgers, lower the grill to medium-high. Grill the sliders in batches. Since their small, it shouldn’t take longer than 8 or so minutes.

Grilled Chicken

Favorite Family Recipes

Favorite Family Recipes

You can’t go wrong with grilled chicken and Favorite Family Recipes offers a deliciously easy recipe. Double, or triple, the recipe if you need to.

What you need:
4 to 6 chicken breasts
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon oil
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 packed brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons mustard
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili powder

What you do:
Over medium-high heat, warm the oil in a small saucepan. Cook the garlic in the oil for 1 minute. Combine the remaining ingredients (minus the chicken) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for about 15 minutes. Set aside. Pour half of the sauce in a bowl for basting the chicken. Grill the chicken on medium-high heat. It should cook for 7-10 minutes on each side. Baste the chicken every few minutes with sauce.

If you’re looking for more recipes, there are thousands of books on Amazon to help you get the job done. Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book: Recipes and Secrets from a Legendary Barbecue Jointis a great cookbook that will help you with any other recipes you’re looking for.

Moving on to the drinks (my absolutely favorite part of the BBQ process). Drinks will probably be the easiest and most fun part of the barbecue. Stock up on a variety of beer, soda, and lemonade. Be sure to have some water on hand as well. If you’re looking for a few other cocktails, try whipping up a batch of sangria. If you have the time, make the sangria the night before and let the fruit sit in the mixture.

Blood Orange Sangria

How Sweet It Is

How Sweet It Is

This recipe from How Sweet It Is will help ease the stress from the busiest week you can imagine. Not only are Blood Oranges straight up delicious, they also make for some beautiful instagram pictures.

What You Need:
6 blood oranges
1 cup club soda
1/2 cup brandy
2 bottles of pinot grigio (750ML-you lush)
12 ounces of strawberries, sliced
1 apple, chopped
1 pint of raspberries
1/2 cup sugar, to rim the glasses

What You Do:
Zest an orange and combine it with sugar in a bowl. Rub the mixture together between your fingers until it smells so delicious you can hardly handle it. Juice four of the oranges but make sure to discard any seeds. Chop the remaining oranges into small pieces. In a pitcher, combine the brandy, orange juice, club soda, wine, apples, raspberries, strawberries, and oranges. Stir well. Run a lemon around the rims of your glasses and dip them in a plate of sugar. Fill the glasses with ice, sangria, and some fruit. Take a picture on instagram and enjoy your beverage!

Feel free to tell guests to bring their own drinks, too. If you don’t have a cooler, now would be a good time to run to the store and get one. Bonus points if you end up with a cooler with a little drain on the side.

The Decorations

A Soft Place To Land

A Soft Place To Land

Barbecues are notoriously relaxed. You don’t need to go crazy with the decorations. Red and white checkered tablecloths are a cheap way to give your barbecue a little flare and spill protection. Next, get a dozen mason jars (or a jar for each guest). If you don’t have mason jars, fear not. Not only are they inexpensive, but you’ll be able to find them at stores around your town with a little internet know-how. Next, pick up some bandanas. Bandanas come in just about every color, so pick out whatever suits your fancy. Wrap your bandanas around a fork, knife, and spoon, and simply put them in the mason jar. Your guests will have a mason jar to drink from, silverware to eat with, and a bandana to use as a napkin.

An easy way to let guests know which sauces and meats you’ll be serving is to print these handy little cards out. Tape them to toothpicks or popsicle sticks and use them to label your food. Now you won’t have to constantly tell people which sauce is which and you’ll be able to focus on your drinking.

You’re welcome.

So what are some of your best BBQ tricks and tips? Let us know in the comments and perhaps you’ll be invited to my next BBQ.

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