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Easy Grilled Guacamole

This is an easy guacamole recipe that anyone can make, with the added dimension of grilling the ingredients ahead of time. This will jack the flavor level up to 11. Everything is better when it’s cooked over fire, right?

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Easy Grilled Guacamole
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
Prep
  1. Set up your grill for direct cooking, and preheat to high.
  2. Cut the avocado and tomato in half. Remove the avocado pit and discard. Leave the avocado in its skin.
Cook
  1. Grill the tomato and avocado halves cut side down for about 5 minutes, or until it just starts to char. Remove from the grill.
Combine
  1. Scoop the avocado out of the skin into a non-reactive bowl. Mash with a spoon. Dice the tomato. Add the tomato, cilantro, and the juice from the lime, and mix thoroughly. Salt to taste. Serve immediately.
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Salt Roasted Chicken

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Grilling a whole chicken on a gas grill can be challenging: too long, and you dry it out, too soon, and you have undercooked chicken. This recipe will guarantee you perfect chicken every time, and will wow your guests as well.

I found this technique in a few different places, and adapted it for a barbecue I hosted for my Indiegogo backers.  The leg bones literally pulled straight out of the bird with no resistance.

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Salt Roasted Chicken
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1-2 hours
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1-2 hours
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat your grill to 500-600 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Remove the neck and giblets from the cavities in the chicken. Put the lemon, onion, and garlic into the main cavity.
  3. In a large, clean pot or in a sink with the drain plugged, slowly add water to the 3 pounds of sea salt, mixing with your hands until it has the consistency of snow. Cheat on the drier side if you aren't sure how much water; you can always add more later.
  4. Put a remote thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh.
  5. In a foil catering pan, create a bed of the sea salt about 1" thick. Place the chicken on the salt bed, and then pack the remaining salt around the chicken so it's about 1" thick all around, and that there are no cracks. The chicken should be completely encased in the salt.
  6. Place the pan in the middle of your grill, close the lid, and let it roast for 1-2 hours, depending on how large the chicken is, how thick the salt pack is, how much water is in the salt, etc. The chicken will be done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Remove the chicken from the grill, and using a meat mallet, heavy knife, or your buddy's skull, break open the salt crust and reveal the chicken. Allow to rest for about 30 minutes, and then carve and serve.
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BBQ Party Ideas: Throw the ultimate backyard bash

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Tips from the experts for a backyard barbecue party that will leave people talking

Plan Ahead

“An Aces Event is all about the prep work. It’s about the people you bring together: friends, teams, or even a community.” Chuck Francisco is a film host at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville and a Master of Ceremonies for Swing Kat Entertainment. He’s been involved in putting on monthly horror screenings at the historic theater in Phoenixville, PA, and locally famous perennial events such as BlobFest and Blob Ball. Whether it’s a BBQ party or a Halloween bash, he knows something about pleasing the crowd. “Mapping out all the minutia in advance is what allows your events this ability to feel authentic and organic- and what will have people reminiscing about it years from now.”

Plan out your BBQ party: the meals, music, decor, where the food will go, when it will need to go on the grill or out of the smoker. Getting all of this down on paper ahead of time will make the day of the event go much smoother, and you’ll be less stressed.

Some resources to help you keep track of everything:
Facebook Events: if your entire guest list is active on Facebook, this will be the easiest tool to keep track of RSVPs and message all of your guests
eVite: know who’s coming, who’s not. Great if you have people you’re inviting who don’t have or use Facebook

 

Download your free BBQ checklist

 

BBQ Party Food

This is the centerpiece of the BBQ party, it’s raison d’etre. Planning this feast ahead of time will make you less stressed while working the fire or running between your grill and the kitchen, and leave you more time to mingle with your guests.

A good guide for the flow of the meal:
Appetizer (either ready to go when guests arrive, or just pulling it off the fire)
Main Course: 2 meats, 1 veggie, 2 sides (this will cover just about every taste palet there)
Dessert (either go simple, like ice cream and grilled pound cake, or make it a presentation, like a grilled apple crisp)

Whatever you can make ahead of time, do. Sides are usually in this category. This will leave you time to concentrate on the main course, where your attention should be.  A BBQ party should center around great food and great friends…checking this off your list will make it easier to enjoy both.

Food Network has a calculator that will help you estimate how much you need to buy.

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Do Something Cool

To truly elevate your BBQ party, you need to add a cool factor. Depending on your skill level working the fire, maybe it’s as simple as cooking steaks caveman style right on the coals, or maybe as complex as cooking a whole hog. Whatever your comfort level is, make sure to include something like this to push your simple backyard BBQ into the territory of an Event. This will give your guests something to talk about, and have them looking forward to the next time.

Some suggestions:
Caveman Steaks: cook the steaks directly on the coals
– Carne Asado: cooking Argentinian style with your food staked around an open pit
Smoked Cocktails: a simple touch that elevates the drinks
– Smoked Meat: a simple approach, but the smell from the smoker will have your guests salivating
– Burger Bar: offer your guests a slew of different, sometimes off-beat toppings (like peanut butter and jelly…no seriously, it’s a thing) and offer a prize to whomever comes up with the most creative (and yet still edible) burger
– Hot Sauce Bar: offer an array of hot sauces of varying degrees of burn
– Whole Hog: not for the faint of heart. This takes skill and patience.

BBQ Party Music

“Cater to the crowd,” says The Quixote Project’s Jeff Selby, who’s musical tastes run from Bob Segar to A Tribe Called Quest. “But you can never go wrong with the iree vibes of Bob Marley at a cook out!”

Pandora and Spotify both have summer mix channels you can tap into if you don’t have time to curate a playlist yourself.

Speaking of catering to the crowd, Casey “Caseyboy” Foster of WMMR‘s Preston & Steve Show made a specific request: Barbecue from Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas.

Let it Ride

A final note of advice from Chuck Francisco: “Pick a place, buy supplies, set the tone, and then step back to allow an amazing shindig the space to evolve naturally.”

More BBQ Party Ideas

31 Best Backyard BBQ Party Ideas

25+ BEst Ideas for a BBQ Party

Traditional BBQ Menu

Sauces that will Elevate Your BBQ Party

10 Next Level BBQ Ideas

Easy Cole Slaw

Cole Slaw is a perfect side for any barbecue, and surprisingly easy to make. It goes great as a side dish, or stacked on top of a pulled pork sandwich or hamburger.

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Easy Cole Slaw
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Whisk the wet ingredients in a bowl. Add the cole slaw mix, and toss in the dressing. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve.
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Grilled Chicken Gyros

As Alton Brown says, “I never send breast to do what thighs could do better (and cheaper).” Grilled chicken gyros are no exception. You get a juicier piece of meat that works much better as a leftover (chicken breasts tend to get dry and I find they don’t taste as good on day 2) with the added benefit of being kissed by fire, imparting that flavor into the dish. I also find that cooking with the skin on and the bone in helps with keeping the chicken moist.

PRO TIP: don’t bother trying to cut the bone out.  Let the chicken cool, and then bone it caveman style. Just slide your finger along the bone and pull the meat off.  It’s much easier to do than attempting to cut it out, and it saves your blade from dulling on the bone. You also look much cooler doing it that way.

PRO TIP #2: If you really want to kick this up a notch, fire roast the tomato as well. Cook it whole over direct heat turning a few times to just get a char on all sides. If you char it too much, the skin will just slide off (which may be fine for some recipes, but we want to bring that flavor into the gyro sauce). Make sure to let it cool, as the liquid inside will be boiling hot when you cut into it if you do so right away.

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Grilled Chicken Gyros
Grilled Chicken Gyro
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Grilled Chicken Gyro
Instructions
  1. Set up your grill for direct cooking, and preheat to 550 degrees F.
  2. Cut away any excess flaps of skin from the chicken thighs. Gently slide your finger between the skin and the meat on one side, taking care to leave the 3 other sides attached.
  3. Sprinkle a teaspoon of Saint Brian's Dash Cunning Spice Rub into the pocket you created.
  4. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon onto the chicken thighs.
  5. Put a skewer through both onion slices to keep them together.
  6. Oil the grill, and place the chicken, skin side up, and onions on the grates. Cook on one side for 6 minutes, and flip and cook for another 4-5, or until the internal temperature of the thighs reaches 165 degrees. You will know it's time to flip when the chicken releases easily from the grill. Remove, and allow the chicken and onion to rest for 20 minutes.
  7. While the chicken is resting, whisk together the mayonnaise, cucumber, plum tomato, dill, the juice from half a lemon in a non-reactive bowl. finely chop the onion and add to the gyro sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Separate the chicken from the bones, and roughly chop into bite-sized pieces. Toss the chicken with the gyro sauce until coated.
  9. Warm the pitas on the grill. Scoop the chicken mix into the pocket. Serve warmed or chilled.
    Grilled Chicken Gyro
Calorie-conscious option
  1. Instead of a pita, use a large leaf or two of lettuce for the wrap.
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Saint Brian’s Beer Battered Onion Rings

Beer battered onion rings, when done properly, should be crunchy on the outside, tender in the middle, and slightly sweet, as the acid has been cooked out of the vegetable. The onion itself should be hidden inside the fried batter, and the batter should neither slip off the onion at first bite, nor should it be overly thick.  And when they are done correctly, onion rings can be a divine side.

The secret is in the batter. While any beer may do, I would recommend finding a microbrew that you like, preferably something local.  Around here, that could be Victory Brewing, Sly Fox, Yards, Evil Genius (who, by the way, have some of the best names for their beer)…there’s just too many to list.

The other secret is making sure that the oil is hot enough, between 370-375 degrees F. If it’s too cool, it won’t cook the rings fast enough and you’ll end up with mushy rings. No es bueno.

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Saint Brian's Onion Rings
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
Preparation
  1. Peel the onions, cut into 1/2" slices, and separate.
  2. Mix the cider vinegar and 2 cups of beer in a non-reactive bowl. Add the onion. Allow to marinate for 1 hour, no longer than 2 hours. Remove the onions, and pat dry.
Cooking
  1. Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk in 3/4 of a cup of the beer until combined and slightly lumpy. Slowly whisk in the remaining 1.4 cup until the desired thickness is reached; the batter should fall off of the whisk in a steady stream.
  3. Heat the oil to 370-375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Pour some flour in a separate bowl, and dredge the dry onions in the flour. This will give the batter something to stick to.
  5. Add a third of the rings to the batter, and then carefully move the rings one at a time to the heated oil. BE careful not to crowd the rings, as they won't cook properly. Allow to fry for about 5 minutes, flipping once, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on a baking sheet with a paper towel. Remove any floating bits of batter, and continue to fry in small batches.
  6. Serve on their own as a side, or with Saint Brian's Barbecue Sauces for dipping.
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Saint Brian’s Coleslaw

Coleslaw is almost a requirement at any barbecue. It’s a delightful blend of creaminess and crunch, of sweet and acidity. You can chop the cabbage and carrots from scratch or from a pre-made bag, and as long as you get the dressing right, it will be a hit that compliments just about any main dish you pull off of the fire.

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Saint Brian's Coleslaw
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Make the dressing by combining all of the wet ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and whisking until well mixed. Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed.
  2. Toss the dressing with the cabbage and carrots. Serve right away, or chill and keep for up to 4 days.
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Saint Brian’s Burger

The Saint Brian’s Burger was what started it all. In 2014, I was feeling like Saint Brian’s BBQ wasn’t going to get off of the ground in the face of all of the hurdles that exist in starting a food-based business. My wife’s uncle, Ira Gutman, owned a hot dog joint in Cherry Hill called Coll Dog Cafe where they served up deep fried gourmet, all-beef hot dogs with all sorts of toppings. He graciously offered up his kitchen for making the sauce, and made a “Saint Brian’s Burger” special that featured the rub and the sauce.

The Cool Dog isn’t there any more (Ira has since opened the Moondog Grille in the Moorestown Mall), and I’ve moved on to a professional kitchen, but the Saint Brian’s Burger is a classic that will never go away.

Use the recipe for Saint Brian’s Coleslaw and Saint Brian’s Beer Battered Onion Rings in conjunction with this recipe.

Saint Brian's Burger

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Saint Brian's Burger
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
Burgers
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
Burgers
Ingredients
Instructions
Before making the burger
  1. Make the Saint Brian's Coleslaw, found in the Side Recipes
  2. Make some large fried onion rings, found in the Side Recipes
Making the Burger
  1. Combine the ground beef and Dash Cunning Spice Rub in a bowl, and mix with your hands. Either cook right away, or seal and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Form the burgers. When forming them, create a divot in the middle of one side. This will prevent the burger from ballooning up into a meatball shape, and also give you an indication for when it is time to flip it.
  3. Preheat your grill to high according to the manufacturer instructions. When heated, you should only be able to hold your open palm 2-3 inches from the surface for 2 seconds.
  4. Oil the grill grates.
  5. Place the burgers over direct heat, divot side up, and cook for about 5 minutes. When you see blood droplets form on the divot, and the burger releases easily from the grate with a spatula, it's time to flip. Flip the burger and cook for another 4-5 minutes. In the last 2 minutes add the cheese slices and toast the buns. Remove from the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Build the burger: bun, burger, pickles, coleslaw, onion ring, sauce, bun
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