5 Things Every Great Summer BBQ Must HaveMay 30, 2012 - 7:31 am |
The summer heat is here, and men everywhere are firing up their grills along with a few feminists who think they have what it takes.
If you're planning on throwing a backyard get together for you and your pals, there are a few guidelines every good BBQ host should follow in order to make sure his guests have a great time. Aside from not giving your friends salmonella poisoning, your main goal should be to make sure everyone goes home stuffed. If someone has their fly button popped and is still reaching for another scoop of your potato salad, you've done a good job. Except that will never happen because potato salad is disgusting.
Let's take a closer look at the things you should be focusing on in order to have a successful and fun summer BBQ.
Serve Food Everyone Likes
So, you've seen a few episodes of Hell's Kitchen or – god forbid – Bizarre Foods, and you think serving your friends something “exotic” is a wonderful idea. Let's be honest, nobody going to a summer cookout with their buddies wants to try eel or buffalo or unicorn. Stick to the basics. Your guests will appreciate it, and so will their gastrointestinal tract.
Burgers are always a hit, and the good news is that they're hard to screw up. Slap some patties together and toss them on the grill, flip once, and serve. If insist on getting fancy, you can try stuffing the hamburger meat with onions beforehand. If anyone at your gathering likes their burgers deliciously rare, a neat trick you can try out is to put a small ice cube in the center of a patty just before you put it on the grill. This allows you to cook the burger long enough to develop a nice char around the outside, without making the inside dry.
Hot dogs. Easy, kids and adults love them, and they're dirt cheap. But don't cheap out too far and get those tiny little links, be a man and go for those plump ballpark franks. There's nothing more disappointing than having someone plop a weird little finger-sized hotdog onto your eagerly waiting bun. At least that's what an ex-girlfriend told me once.
If you want to do more than burgers, hot dogs or chicken wings, steaks are always a great option, but be aware that the price for your cookout will go up dramatically – and we both know that your friends aren't going to help pay for anything! Other “upper crust” options include lamb or pork chops. Additionally, if you're the kind of monster that likes to go out and kill Bambi on the weekends, venison can be an interesting twist to the norm, without falling into the forbidden category of “exotic.”
Beer & Beverages
Arguably more important than the food itself is the beer being served alongside it. Whether the beer you're serving is cheap stuff from the 7-11 down the street or an expensive imported brew, it must be cold. That statement warrants repeating. The beer must be cold. Imagine how you would feel if some jerk off handed you a warm beer at his barbecue. Don't be that guy.
If you want to avoid people constantly going in and out of your kitchen to dig around in your refrigerator for another can of stumble juice, get a decently sized cooler and load it up with ice. If you place it near the grill, it can conveniently double as a storage bin for the various meat products you've yet to put on the flames, as well as any vegetables or heat-sensitive condiments like mayonnaise.
Other than beer (yes, there are other things to drink, I was surprised too), consider having a reasonable stock of soda pop available for designated drivers, “recovering alcoholics” and other squares in attendance. If anyone is bringing their kids, a few juice boxes can go a long way to impress those desperate single mothers.
Plenty of Extras
This is a pretty basic idea, but failing to have all the necessary extras can ruin a barbecue. Double check that you have plenty of mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and whatever other condiments you might need. Prepare sliced tomatoes and lettuce beforehand and store them in the fridge until burgers are ready, and you'll find yourself saving a lot of time. And, perhaps the best piece of advice, get a ton of paper plates, Styrofoam cups, and plastic cutlery. Nothing will be at risk of getting broken and you won't have to spend four hours doing dishes. Smart.
Music & Entertainment
Unless you want the only sounds to be the flare of the grill and the sounds of sweaty men grunting at one another about sports or politics, you'll probably want to liven the mood with some tunes. You don't have to have a state of the art sound system. Pulling out an old boom box and putting on whatever terrible terrestrial radio rock station available in your area will suffice. Keep the volume low enough for people to still be able to hear one another talking, since you're the host of a barbecue, not a struggling DJ at a sketchy night club.
Television for the most part should be avoided if your goal is to keep most of your guests outside, but if you don't mind everyone piling into your living room, sports are generally the go-to programming for backyard cookouts. Whatever you do, don't put on a movie – everyone will get sucked into it and simply wait for you to serve them. You're having a barbecue, not putting on dinner and a show.
Activities While Waiting For the Meat
We're not talking about foreplay here, we're talking about things that are actually fun. If you're lucky enough to have a swimming pool, that's pretty much the gold standard for a successful summer barbecue, particularly if members of the fairer gender are in attendance. If a swimming pool is out of the question, there's plenty of other things you can offer your guests to entertain themselves with while they socialize and wait for the food to be ready.
Consider simulating a bar environment and putting up a dart board somewhere in your back yard. Step it up a notch and get a little blackboard with chalk to hang next to it so that people can keep score. Nothing like combining drunk, hungry people with sharp projectiles.
If you want to kick it old school and introduce a game that most of your guests probably haven't played, horseshoe can be set up last minute (assuming you have, you know, horseshoes) and is actually, despite being straight out of the 1850s, quite a bit of fun.