Hosting a backyard barbecue is an ideal way to entertain friends and family in a casual outdoor setting. With a little planning, you will spend less time in the kitchen and more time socializing.
Plan and Prepare Ahead
Ease a lot of the cooking burden when the big day arrives by maximizing kitchen time in the days beforehand. Plan the menu and select dishes that can be prepared in advance. During the preceding days, make the side dishes, salads, and the barbecue sauces and spice rubs that will be used grill side. Evaluate each dish and carry out any steps that can be accomplished in advance, such as cutting up vegetables. Store everything in sealed containers in the refrigerator.
Bartending Free for All
Avoid being stuck behind a bar mixing drink requests all day by setting up a cocktail station on the patio or deck. Cover a card table with a cloth and arrange glasses, a cocktail shaker, bottles of liquors, wine, sodas and juices to mix a variety of drinks and embellishments, such as lime wedges. Keep a large cooler filled with ice next to the table, and this ice chest will serve double duty by keeping beer and non-alcoholic beverages chilled. This setup will invite guests to help themselves, encouraging the fun and casual ambience.
Decide to Delegate
If time is limited and you cannot make an entire repertoire of salads, side dishes, appetizers and desserts, do not be afraid to delegate. People often ask their host what they can contribute, offering the perfect opener for you to respond with a request for a potato salad. If your closest friend bakes a pie that is delectable, you may have the opportunity to request that luscious dessert, thus complimenting your friend and lightening your workload. Make one or two dishes that you particularly enjoy, and the remaining ones will be provided. Everyone will have a good time knowing that the event was a group effort.
Appetizers: Make Some, Buy Some
Most barbecue gatherings commence with social nibbling while the grill heats up. You will want to set out a few options, but that does not mean that you are bound to make all of them. You can prepare a cocktail sauce for grilled shrimp and make a homemade dip; then purchase additional appetizers to round things out, such as nuts, cheese and olives.
For a fun dessert option, consider setting up an ice cream sundae bar. Provide all of the sundae-making essentials, including a few sauces, several toppings and two to three ice cream flavours, and let guests have fun creating their own unique sundaes. You can even give out a prize for the most original sundae. Children especially will have a wonderful time.
A barbecue is all about outdoor fun, social mingling and casual dining. Instead of running around breathless at your backyard barbecue, throw the steaks on the grill, pour a drink and make the most of this time to catch up with your friends.
Jim is a Chef at the Flying Fish Restaurant in Sydney, Australia. He loves to get his family and friends together for a backyard BBQ during the summer months and provides these tips for anyone planning a BBQ. Jim is currently writing a cookbook with the best BBQ recipes.