Food for a rainy barbecue?
July 30, 2009 5:19 AM   Subscribe

What should I cook in my small kitchen for a rainy barbecue?

I'm planning a BBQ at the weekend for 15-20 people, but it looks like it may rain heavily, in which case we will all be indoors. (Just to make vocabulary clear to Americans: the original plans involved cooking mainly meat products outside over charcoal embers).

I am pre-preparing some salads and sides, and marinating some veg and tofu for the vegetarians, then I had planned to go shopping on the morning of the BBQ to stock up on meat. However, if the forecast is rainy I can alter my shopping list to suit.

What can I buy/make to minimise cooking and serving effort in my small kitchen during the event? I don't have a very big grill, but I do have an oven. I can spend some of the earlier part of the day on kitchen prep, but don't want to spend the whole party holed up in there.
posted by emilyw to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
When I say I don't have a very big grill, I mean I have a thing above my stove top where I can slide a tray of food under some fairly big gas jets, giving a result vaguely similar to using charcoal embers outside. But it's small, I could barely cook for 4 on there. You can just see one of these at the top of this picture.
posted by emilyw at 5:29 AM on July 30, 2009

Chili makes a great easy indoor party, of about the same level of "casual" as a barbeque. It's maybe a bit "wintertime" but if you keep the planned (grilling-style) sides and some watermelon and it'll still be fairly summery.

Alternately, kebabs do pretty well in the oven/broiler, and would be easy to do outdoors if it doesn't rain. That's more prep work and pricier groceries than burgers, though.
posted by aimedwander at 5:31 AM on July 30, 2009

How about some pulled pork sandwiches? Throw it in a crock pot or your oven for many hours at low heat and enjoy!
posted by cdmwebs at 5:47 AM on July 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Pulled pork. It's better if you barbeque it due to the smokiness that gets infused into the meat, but you can always use a little liquid smoke in a tray...

Get 8-10lb pork shoulder, cover in dry rub of your choice (I ganked my recipe from The Paupered Chef, which got it from Applewood City Barbecue.) Wrap in plastic wrap and leave over night. The next morning, take it out, put in a 250 degree oven (fat cap on top, so that as it melts it bastes the meat), and just leave it there for 8-10 hours, until the meat is soft and tender and the internal temp between 190-200 degrees. If you want a bit of smoke flavor, take a disposable pie plate or other small pan and add a cup of so of water and several drops of liquid smoke. As the water steams, the liquid smoke will infuse the meat. Some people baste the meat during, but for an oven version I don't think it adds much.

Take it out of the oven, let it sit for at least half an hour, and then shred, discarding any giant hunks of fat, and if you feel like it, putting some barbecue sauce on it. Serve with buns, more sauce, colesalw and pickles for people to make sandwiches.

You can also do the whole thing the day before the barbecue or overnight and then on the day just take the shredded meat and a bit of the BBQ sauce and plunk it in a slow cooker set on warm. Handy for serving it from and frees your oven up entirely on the day itself, so you can do a chicken or something to accompany. An 8-10lb shoulder would feed 12-16, you can probably stretch it to 20 no problem with some sides.
posted by Diablevert at 5:52 AM on July 30, 2009 [4 favorites]

Ribs are a great compromise between "grilled" and "roasted". You can marinate them overnight and then roast them on a low flame for a few hours beforehand, or even cook them before and warm them up for your party.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:52 AM on July 30, 2009

Seconding pulled pork. Also, these baked ribs scale really well (you'll need a big-ass stockpot for the boiling phase). I'm told they turn out every bit as delicious as the grilled version.
posted by Bardolph at 5:54 AM on July 30, 2009

Pulled pork is great, and ribs work wonderfully in the oven, low heat + long time = delicious.
posted by reptile at 5:58 AM on July 30, 2009

If you have the time and it's not supposed to rain Friday night, you can do traditional St. Louis style pork:

Mix equal parts beer, bbq sauce, and diluted-by-half vinegar. Season to taste. Place meat (pork steaks - thick fatty chops will do, since 'pork steak' is not a word in the English dictionary away from St. Louis) in mixture, in fridge, overnight. Do this tonight.

Tomorrow, take the marinaded meat out to the grill and grill *lightly* with no sauce. Lightly - by which I mean, don't scorch. Get the meat smoky, if you have wood chips.

After grilling, place all meat in a Dutch Oven filled with BBQ sauce. Place in oven at the lowest setting until Saturday.

BBQ sauce: take a mild sauce from the store. Adulterate it: cheap beer, mustard, honey, orange juice (only a little), grape jelly, sea salt, ketchup.

You can also do this with chicken; in fact, my grampa used to put both chicken and pork in the dutch oven. The meat would fall off the bone, so we used a slotted spoon. Never knew *what* you would get until you tasted it. But man, what a taste!
posted by notsnot at 6:03 AM on July 30, 2009

I DO have a big-ass stockpot; I don't have a crock pot.

Here in the UK, shredded meat means "low grade bits that you wouldn't eat if you saw them whole, probably mixed with floor sweepings", and would be considered a shameful thing to do with a good cut of meat!
posted by emilyw at 6:03 AM on July 30, 2009

Admittedly, this is a religious war that's been going on for generations, but....

If you want to do pulled pork, make a vinegar-based sauce for it (google "elder ward pulled pork"). BBQ sauce is vile stuff that completely overpowers pork. Trust me...after serving pulled pork to large groups 15 or 20 times, I've stopped making the tomato based stuff because everyone realizes pretty quick which is the morally correct sauce choice.

For a rub you can use almost anything. I did equal parts garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt, sugar, mustard powder and dried jalapenos a week or two ago and it was really good. Plain ol' Old Bay seasoning is fine, too. Pork is great that way.

FWIW, I've read the fat cap basting the meat is a myth. In fact, I think it's maybe better to put it on the side facing the heat, since the fat is an insulator.
posted by paanta at 6:05 AM on July 30, 2009

How about some GFC?
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 6:12 AM on July 30, 2009

Yeeeeaaaaahhhh. Nice suggestions, but generally speaking BBQ sauce and decent watermelons are difficult to get hold of in the UK, grape jelly eithe rcompletely nonexistent or easily confused with gelatine, crock pots are not standard kitchen ware, and pulled pork or ribs will be completely lost on non-USians. Also, a 'kebab' is a greasy horrible cousin of the gyro only eaten when drunk at 3am, not a tasty assemblage of meat and veg put on a stick.

I think you would probably do well with a large pot of chili and jacket potatoes. Maybe throw a few sausages under the grill and toast some rolls as well, do a few marinated chicken pieces in the oven and go ahead with your tofu and veg as planned, but the weather is going to be rubbish this wekeend and people will prob give you full marks for even going ahead. If anyone complains, throw them out in it.
posted by Cuppatea at 6:20 AM on July 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Alton Brown's No Backyard Babyback Ribs

posted by Comrade_robot at 6:22 AM on July 30, 2009

Also, fwiw, depending on the type of outdoor grill you were planning on using, you may not have to nix the original plan after all-- I have friends who do three-season, all-weather grilling outdoors under a small awning on their porch, and it seems to work well. Might take a bit of extra vigilance (and some precautionary water buckets) to maintain fire safety, but it's worth considering.
posted by Bardolph at 6:43 AM on July 30, 2009

I've done buffet style tacos several times, and they're always a hit - and easy on the host/ess. Bake chicken and pork (fancy up/marinade to taste) in the oven, cook up some black beans with onion, celery, green pepper the night before. Shred the chicken, cut the pork into strips; put each on its own platter or large plate. Put a bowl full of beans out with a big spoon, and likewise, big bowls of diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, sour cream or yogurt, and shredded lettuce and/or cabbage, and a whole lot of soft tacos (don't open the packages all at once, or they might start to dry up) . Set out salsa, hot sauce, lime wedges, garlic sauce or garlic oil, chile powder, and maybe cumin and even soy sauce for those who swing that way - and let people assemble their own food. Other possible additions: cooked, seasoned ground beef; avocado slices or guacamole; lentils; cilantro; rice; grilled peppers; onions.

It easy "lap food" (as long as you also serve up a big pile of paper napkins!) so people can lounge around wherever they want to and eat and chat - very relaxed and festive.

Whatever meat you planned for the barbecue can be used this way instead (so you don't have to alter your ingredient shopping much - if it turns up sunny, you can go with the original plan), and the tofu and veggies will go great in tacos, as well.
posted by taz at 6:48 AM on July 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is a little different than Alton Brown's recipe, but it similarly works without backyard barbecue facilities.

Preheat oven to 250. Rub a rack of ribs with whatever rub you like. Sear on each side on the grill for a couple of minutes each -- just to brown them. Use a roasting pan (the kind that has a rack that sits in it) and put in two cups of water and two tablespoons of Liquid Smoke. Rest the browned ribs on their sides (so bones sticking up vertically), bracing them against each other with toothpicks if need be. Cover the whole thing with tinfoil and put it in the oven for the next 6-7 hours. Deliciously good, fall-off-the-bone meat.
posted by olinerd at 6:55 AM on July 30, 2009

Pulled pork is great. We live in NYC and don't have easy access to a grill. This past Independence Day we had friends over and broiled some kalbi (Korean marinaded short ribs) in the oven and they were delicious. Just make sure that any meat you broil is sitting on a rack so the juices fall away from the meat.
posted by billtron at 7:02 AM on July 30, 2009

We grill this recipe all the time, both inside and outside and then make a greek salad to go with it. If I'm doing it inside I use the broiler and place the meat close to the element.

I've also made this tzatziki sauce to go with it.
posted by smcniven at 7:23 AM on July 30, 2009

A big-ass stockpot makes you all set for a clambake.

The CLASSIC way to do a clambake is in a pit you dig on the beach, but my family always went with a kettle in Grandpa's back yard and it turned out just fine. Plus, doing it that way means it is that much easier to adapt it to a big-ass stockpot on the stove.

This link to an old New York Times article gives a good basic overview of the technique, but don't regard the ingredients as gospel -- my family almost never used lobster when we had our bakes. Instead, we threw in big filets of various fish. We did have the sausage they call for, but no chicken; we also didn't use mussels, only clams. We also added white potatoes and sweet potatoes.

We gathered the seaweed for the bake the day of the bake; that'd be tricky for you, I'm sure, but the article suggests spinach. I also see no reason why you couldn't use any of the seaweed I've seen in health food stores; the seaweed is what provides the moisture for the bake -- just pick up a couple packages of dried seaweed and soak that for about an hour, then use that. (The toasted, processed sheets of nori you use for sushi wouldn't work -- it has to be straight-up dried seaweed.)

Oh -- and you want to have the broth at the bottom. Trust me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:25 AM on July 30, 2009

Have a shrimp boil. It's festive, fun, casual finger food that can be made in one big-ass pot. Whip up some cocktail sauce, cover your kitchen table with newspaper, and dump a mess of boiled shrimp on it and let the guests peel and eat.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:59 AM on July 30, 2009

"Nice suggestions, but generally speaking BBQ sauce and decent watermelons are difficult to get hold of in the UK, grape jelly eithe rcompletely nonexistent or easily confused with gelatine, crock pots are not standard kitchen ware, and pulled pork or ribs will be completely lost on non-USians."

Well, to be fair she asked for barbeque recipies that could be done indoors on an oven on a rainy day without much active supervision by the cook, not all that and "recipies that would not alienate the UK palate."

But, just to be wicked:

Little British Barbecue Sauce

1 medium white onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
120ml HP Sauce
30 ml Coleman's mustard
30 ml malt vinegar
60 ml water
15 ml olive oil
Salt, pepper

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until softened, aprox 5 minutes. Add rest of ingredients, stir to combine and allow to come to simmer. Turn off heat and allow to cool before serving. Vairations: Sub half HP sauce with ketchup, or add half a green apple, shredded along with the onions for a sweeter version.
posted by Diablevert at 10:38 AM on July 30, 2009

I've made this variant of Good Eats Ribs (Who Loves Ya Babyback?). They are rubbed and then braised in the oven. There are delicious.
posted by mmascolino at 12:18 PM on July 30, 2009

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