The Big Backyard BBQ
Grilling is a social activity. Always involve as many people as possible. Most of your guests will be so grateful you are serving as chef and host they will be more than willing to bring the goodies to share with the crowd. Involve the kids in the planning and the shopping. Invite your parents and their friends. Create an inter-generational mixer.
Share the duties. Pass the grill tongs from chef to chef like it’s a sprinter’s baton. Expand the borders of a food theme and try something more exotic like Thai, Mexican, and Tapas recipes. Or maybe a simple competition called “Brilliant Burger” or a prize for “Most Fun on a Bun.” Imitate the competitive atmosphere of the popular food channels and have a panel of judges. Video the tastings and judging comments to replay later for maximum entertainment.
Grilling is great for making tried-and-true foods taste incredible. Vegetables, peppers and corn on the cob have a delicious flavor when grilled, don’t forget fruits like pineapple and nectarines that grill superbly. While you’re thinking healthy fare, you can still keep snack offerings by substituting pita wedges or grain crackers for salty chips. Replace that cheese dip with a flavored hummus like garlic, roasted red pepper or pine nut.
Outdoor cooking safety means fire safety and food safety. You need to make sure everyone is safe. For starters, keep hot surfaces and fuel sources away from eating areas and where children are playing games.
Grills, both gas and charcoal, and smokers, all have specific ranges of operation. If you are purchasing a new grill, they don’t have to break the budget. Gas grills are the most convenient and range from inexpensive tabletop models to gourmet freestanding models. They are easy to operate, but don’t assume your new grill works just like other grills you’ve owned. Make sure you read the operating instructions.
When it comes to food safety, the rules are simple:
- Keep things covered or inside until ready to eat
- Keep cool items cool
- Get your raw food on the flames without delay
Finally, don’t forget sun exposure. For everyone’s comfort and sun safety, provide plenty of shaded seating so guests don’t overheat. If your yard is mostly sun, invest in a sturdy canopy and plenty of sunscreen.