Can you believe it’s time to prepare for your 4th of July BBQ already? Seems like yesterday we were pigging out on discount day-after-Valentine’s sale candy. Now it’s time to drag out the red, white, and blue, dust off the barbecue grill, and invite the folks! Before you set up your Facebook Event and head to the grocery store, here are some tried and true tips for hosting the Ultimate 4th of July BBQ – Fort Wayne style!
Keep your menu in check
The grocery prices aren’t really cooperating with big holiday plans this year, but you can still have a nice BBQ and keep your budget within reason. The key is to scale back. But there are other benefits, such as less shopping and less prep work. With a smaller menu, you won’t be able to cook for every single taste or preference. Instead, opt for the kinds of dishes that are most popular. Burgers and dogs are always acceptable on the 4th, but there are some other options to keep it fresh and interesting without going over budget:
- Assorted cuts of chicken or beer can whole chickens
- Smoked ham (a 5 lb boneless or 7.5 lb bone-in ham feeds roughly 10 people)
- Beef brisket (if you don’t have the 18-24 hours to invest in smoking a whole brisket, try the Texas Crutch method – 2-3 hours on the smoker-grill and finish in the oven) you’ll be done in ~6-8 hours!)
- BBQ pork butt for pulled pork sandwiches (try the Texas Crutch on this, too!)
Instead of time-consuming side dishes like deviled eggs, elaborate salads, or casseroles, opt for a small selection of easy, one-dish sides. Better yet, choose side dishes you can toss on the grill! Two to three side dishes are fine for any size crowd. The simpler you keep it, the more you’ll actually enjoy your BBQ party!
- Grilled corn on the cob
- Grilled asparagus (add some oil and garlic salt and you’ll be amazed!)
- Grilled mixed vegetables (try squash, brussels sprouts, zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, cabbage, potatoes, avocados – whatever’s on sale at the supermarket this week)
- Coal-baked potatoes (you’ll never go back to the oven again!)
- Grilled fruits (you can grill an amazing variety of fruits for either side dishes or healthy desserts. Try pineapple, peaches, watermelon, honeydew melon, apples, peaches, pears … if it holds up for slicing, it’ll likely hold up on the grill!)
Keep dessert simple, too. Fruit cups, Southern pear salad, or layering an instant pudding between a pie crust and whipped cream – all these make simple, no-fuss, affordable desserts that will look great on the picnic table and won’t take time away from your grilling responsibilities. (Bonus: When your dessert is simpler, your BBQ entre remains the star attraction. This is important if you spend days preparing to grill or smoke a huge hunk of expensive meat!)
Do your prep work ahead of time
You probably aren’t hosting a 4th of July BBQ just to stand around cooking while everyone else has fun in the pool! No matter what you plan to serve, do all the prep work the day before, and have everything ready to toss on the grill when it’s time to cook. This can shave an hour or more off your cooking time, giving you more time to enjoy your company and show the kids how cannonballs in the pool are really done.
Cook everything on the BBQ – Even the side dishes!
Whether you opt for one of our suggestions above or do your own cool thing for your 4th of July BBQ, make sure everything you want to cook can be done on the grill. Our Saber and Primo grills are versatile enough to smoke, grill, sautée, broil, and more. Doing all the cooking on the grill keeps you from wearing yourself out running in and out of the house, keeps the kitchen clean, and prevents those “whoopsies” when you get stuck inside too long and burn the burgers on the grill. Plus, when you limit yourself to only grilled foods, you can more easily keep the menu at a manageable size.
Have more games and activities planned than you think you need
The plan is to have everything grilled up and ready to serve at noon. The reality is … sometimes different from the actual plans. It’s a good idea to have entertainment options for holdups, like Uncle Ralph running his typical 45 minutes late, having to send your brother to the local convenience store to overpay for ketchup because you forgot, or an unexpected rain shower. A few games or a new above ground swimming pool keeps the BBQ and party going strong, even when there’s a hiccup or two along the way. Game tables like foosball, air hockey, and table tennis are lifesavers when a thundercloud moves in right as the grill gets fired up.
Invest in the right tools and equipment
Smack talk abounds in discussions of charcoal versus propane grills. Whether you’re a die-hard charcoal fan or tend to fall on the Hank Hill side of the debate, having a grill you’re comfortable using makes more difference in the success of your 4th of July BBQ than does your selection of meat, side dishes, or your red, white, and blue decorations. Tredway Pools carries a generous selection of Saber® propane grills, as well as the ever-popular Primo® charcoal grills.
Ready … set … Barbecue! Happy 4th, Everybody!