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?
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.
Tips from the experts for a backyard barbecue party that will leave people talking
“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
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.
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.
– 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!”
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
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.
Last day to order and guarantee delivery in time for 4th of July
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.
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.
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.
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.