How to prepare for that big BBQ with the least amount of stress

It’s time for you to bring out those white pants and dust off the rusty grill. summer is upon us and we want to make sure you’re prepared to throw a helluva party.

  • How to prepare for BBQ (mise-en-place) take the pressure off on the big day
  • Time savers and alternatives to using only the BBQ grill – sous-vide.
  • Examples of how you can pre-prepare chicken and finish it off on the grill.
  • Marinade recipe for slow cooker – make it the night before and don’t worry about it again until it’s ready to transfer to serving bowl.
  • Tender. Delicious. Succulent. Fall-off-the-bone-yummyness.
  • Pre-prepared dips and starters. Hummus, pesto. Minimal work for maximum effect.
  • Non-alcoholic beverage alternatives. Arnold Palmers, Mint-infused water and Watermelon juice, my Very Drinkable Lemonade.

As with most things in life, things are easier if you’re prepared.

Professionals call this mise-en-place which is basically restaurant-jargon for chop up your veg and prepare your sauces. Well, it’s a little more than that, but you get my drift.

I might make a pit-master cringe when I write this, but if you have a sous-vide machine. Use it. I have vacuum bags of marinated chicken thighs and drumsticks poach in water the morning of the BBQ. The sous-vide is a machine that controls the temperature of the water with high accuracy. For example, if you’re cooking chicken, you want the internal temperature to be 156 degrees Fahrenheit. Whether you leave the chicken in your sealed vacuum bags for one hour or four hours makes no difference The temperature is constant so you can’t overcook it.

This is an example of how you can use sous-vide as a tool when cooking for many. To read more about the technique, click here.

This can be done hours in advance, and you don’t have to constantly keep an eye on it. When the guests arrive, throw the meat on the grill and caramelize/brown the outside. Juicy and tender without worrying about serving raw chicken. The cuts with the bone in them makes sure the meat doesn’t dry out and taste much better. – Sous vide works great for rack of lamb and large fillets of salmon.

In my video , you can see how I make my pulled-pork marinade.

In addition to the sous-vide machine. My best friend when it comes to preparing for big parties, is my slow-cooker. This is where I make my pulled-pork, my soups, my curries – and even my Very Drinkable Lemonade. My pulled pork is so tender and juicy it comes straight off the bone. I never have any leftovers of this dish, because what’s left, people ask to take home.

Here are the ingredients of my slow-cooked baby-back ribs. I can fit three ribs in my cooker.

  • 12 fluid ounces of beer (I like craft beers for the taste)
  • Anchovy paste to taste
  • 1/2 cup molasses or brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 yellow onions and three shallots grated (use food processor for ease)
  • Onion powder to taste
  • Garlic powder to taste if you don’t want to use fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 teaspoons Old Bay
  • A dash of Mirin
  • A dash of fish sauce
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • A dash of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 finger of grated ginger

Mix all these ingredients in a separate bowl. Taste, taste, taste along the way so you can make the marinade to best suit your preferences. My slow cooker has two settings. High and Low. Set it to Low and leave it overnight. It’s important the marinade covers all the meat, so usually, I take my kitchen shears and cut smaller pieces (4-5 ribs/pc). Feel free to don a pair of gloves and get in there to massage.

Since you haven’t clogged up real-estate on the grill with salmon and chicken, you now have room for hot dogs and hamburgers that are essential to feed the little impatient mouths before you get on with more serious business in the form of steaks and ribs. Here is a link to some of my hot-dog toppers – also great if you want to create a side dish to add to your buffet that goes with different meats and fish.

The absolute easiest way to make a lemonade, is to wash and cut lemons in two. Throw as many as can fit in your slow-cooker. Add sugar to taste and a split vanilla-bean. Set to high. Cool, sieve, serve.

As fun as it is popping open a Costco-sized bag of potato-chips, you can do better. For appetizers, put out dishes you made in advance. Hummus, pesto, pickled cucumber salad and salsa. There is no shame in indulging your friends when they ask if they can bring anything. I always say ‘yes’ when someone asks if they can bring a salad or dessert.

As much as food is a big part of Memorial day, so is drinks. Make sure that your guests stay hydrated. Not just alcohol, but provide enough non-alcoholic beverages like mint-infused ice-water. Arnold Palmers (ice-tea lemonade) and watermelon-juice. My website is full of other recipes that are suitable for large parties.

Happy grilling!

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