Grab your tongs and a few hunks of meat. It's summer and time to grill.
People love barbecues. But next time you host a cookout, do your guests and their arteries a favor by skipping dried-out burgers and nitrate-laden dogs. Opt instead for fresh vegetables, high-quality meats and homemade salads, sans the mayo. No-knead bread is great for parties, and instantly ups your culinary clout in the eyes of party-goers.
If available, find house-made sausages form your local butcher. Our favorite is from Ver Brugge in Oakland, where we bought goat, lamb/rosemary, chicken/apple and chorizo. When your sausage is done (10-12 minutes on med. heat), cut into bite-sized pieces and serve with toothpicks. Your guest won't fill up by eating an entire link, and they'll enjoy more of the healthier, non-meat dishes. Plus, you can buy less meat and spring for the good stuff.
I always have fruit on the table as well - whatever is the season's sweetest. Eating a piece of fruit will cleanse your palate after noshing on smokey meat from the grill.
Hosting a BBQ is a circus act where you balance cooking, serving, socializing, cleaning and the general task of keeping guests happy. Keep the flow running smoothly by preparing the night before, and devising an efficient setup between the table, bar and grill. If possible, situate the grill so you're facing guests, at least partly, while cooking. I haven't quit mastered the art of seamless hosting, but I learn a few things from every experience. What did this last BBQ teach me? Take time to eat and keep your dog away from the grill.
Summer BBQ recipes:
- Mixed potato salad with green beans and capers
- Pasta salad with toasted chickpeas, oven-roasted tomatoes and pecorino
- Homemade whole wheat harvest bread
- Lemongrass chicken wings
- 4 types of sausage (chicken apple, goat, lamb rosemary, chorizo)
- grilled corn on the cob
- vegetable skewers with squash, onion and peppers
- fruit salad with sliced kiwi, apricots and nectarines