Backyard barbecue parties are generally full of relaxed conversations and plenty of food. They’re also the perfect opportunity to try something new when it comes to outdoor entertaining. The next time you plan to open the grill and throw a party, plan also to leave a lasting impression on your guests by giving them an unusual and fun barbecue party experience.
Backyard Burger Cook-Off
Turn your own backyard barbecue into a burger cook-off with your friends. Invite guests to bring their favorite recipe to grill. Keep things even by limiting the types of meat that can be used, or foster the creative spirit in your chefs by letting them cook everything from tuna burgers to veggie burgers. Have guests who aren’t competing become the tasters. Fill some large tubs with ice, and supply plenty of cold beverages, such as a selection of bottled beers that will complement a variety of grilled meats and fish, as well plenty of old-fashioned bottles of soda.
Grilling in Style
Go beyond the standard barbecue fare and add some sophistication to your party. Thrill your guests’ taste buds by grilling some unexpected main and side dishes. Try a grilled fish, such as grouper or trout, or grill fish kebabs, using a mix of a few different cubes of fish, such as halibut, salmon and tuna. Grilled red peppers, stuffed with polenta and herbs, make a surprisingly hardy main course, as do portobello mushrooms, marinated in balsamic vinegar. Sweet potato wedges dredged in lime juice take on a nice caramelization when grilled. Top the night off with warm grilled peach and pear halves basted with amaretto and topped with whipped cream. For added panache, come up with a cocktail for the evening, such as strawberry-infused vodka and club soda over ice.
It’s easy to minimize your carbon footprint when throwing a barbecue party. While the grill is the main star, it doesn’t require standard charcoal briquettes to cook up a delicious steak or burger. According to SierraClub.org, while all grilling methods consume some natural resources and emit pollutants into the air, charcoal is by far the worst offender. Use eco-friendly charcoal, such as a 100 percent lump hardwood, or an electric or gas grill, instead. Buy your meat and produce from farms and ranches that practice sustainable farming. To minimize waste, set the tables with your own reusable dishes and tableware. If you must use disposable cups, ask guests to write their names on them with a permanent marker. While party streamers and helium balloons look bright and festive, they also clutter up the environment and can endanger wildlife. Instead, decorate with potted plants and flowers. Invite guests to bring their own reusable containers to take home any leftover food. Rather than serving bottles of water, set out several large pitchers. If you do use bottled beverages, provide guests with an easily identifiable container to dispose of them for recycling.