Beach BBQ... without the BBQ. Warm appetizers?
October 9, 2015 3:56 AM   Subscribe

My spouse, with a YEAR of treatment for cancer, is done with the hard part. We want to have a beach BBQ-ish to celebrate. We need help with the menu.

We are having a picnic on a beach that is significant to us. We have a medium- maybe ten people to have a Fuck Cancer celebration. Complications: We may or may not have an actual grill available. We'd like to have a full meal, even if it's a bunch of filling appetizers. We have a medium-sized cooler and our friends have coolers of unknown sizes . We have a simple kitchen (no microwave) but a totally earnest time to spend. We want to feed people. We can figure out how to keep things warm, but not hot. Specific recipes or links to good recipes would be appreciated. The beach in mind is about an hour from our homes. Not negotiable for $Reasons. We have a limited budget because cancer bleeds you dry.
posted by kamikazegopher to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you time it properly, pork Butts (for pulled pork) can travel well if you pull it from the oven, immediately wrap in foil, then wrap that in towels, then place them in the cooler right as you leave for the beach. Then when you get to site you can pull them immediately, then mix with bbq sauce for pulled pork sandwiches.

Other dishes can be done, but you start getting into the world if needing to purchase. Disposable hibachi grills with coals can be bought for less than 20 bucks if you want to cook on site. Insulated food carriers that tie into baking dishes also work well - I think it's possible to give baked dishes the same a treatment as pulled pork, but it may not keep heat as long given the mass of pulled pork keeps heat a lot longer.
posted by Karaage at 5:05 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

These oven-baked chicken wings are insanely good and I think would be pretty dang tasty even in a warm-not-hot state. Plus, wings tend to be on the cheaper side. You could pair with either a blue cheese sauce, or for something even less expensive, a ranch dressing.

I would also do some flatbreads/pizzas (do minimal sauce/toppings so they don't get too soggy in transit, and then make sure to bake until nicely browned and crispy). You can make a big batch of no-knead pizza dough, which is super easy and will make 4 pizzas or flatbreads. Some toppings I think would work well at room temperature and also be budget friendly:
caramelized onion + artichoke
corn-squash-green onion
posted by rainbowbrite at 5:47 AM on October 9, 2015

There are some nice side dishes here:
posted by hick57 at 5:59 AM on October 9, 2015

You could do a shrimp boil in a cooler. I can't link, but Bon Appetite has a recipe. If you brought boiling water in a thermos and use a small cooler, it would be easy and fun. Congratulations on your road to good health!
posted by jennstra at 6:16 AM on October 9, 2015

Soup is actually pretty awesome for beach food, especially when it isn't the middle of summer. If you can crowd-source thermoses or maybe ask around at churches or community centers nearby if you can borrow some big insulated containers, you can bring mugs or disposable coffee cups and dish out soup with crunchy bread to dip. Something blended is best for drinking, I think. Cream of mushroom is classic and fantastic from scratch and easy on the budget, but there are tons of soups that are like that if mushroom is not your thing. Tomato soup is good when not particularly hot, too.
posted by Mizu at 6:24 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

As a snack, white bean dip with crackers or sliced baguette is a nice variation on regular old hummus, plus it's very cheap, even cheaper if you use dried beans -- all you need is beans, garlic, oil, and lemon juice.

Bittman's potato salad with mustard vinaigrette is my go-to for BBQs, but for a more filling side, you could try some three-bean salad, cowboy caviar, or even peanut noodles. For something even heartier, you can't go wrong with red beans and rice. (All of these recipes are vegan and perfectly fine to serve at room temperature, so you don't have to worry about letting them sit while you drive out to the beach.)

Congratulations to your spouse, all my best to both of you!
posted by divined by radio at 6:29 AM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I would do a pasta and/or a grain salad. I am partial to feta/cuke combos like this: Pioneer Woman Mediterranean Orzo Salad (minus the olives because I hate olives) and black bean/corn blends like this: Quinoa Salad with Black Beans, Corn & Tomatoes. I might use a grain other than quinoa - like bulgur - but again that's personal preference.

Also you could do a good cheese/cured meats/olive/pickle/baguette platter.

For parties I buy marinated mozzarella balls, dump the mozz balls & marinade over cooked tortellini and halved cherry tomatoes, then skewer those with or without a slice/hunk of salami.

Fuck Cancer indeed!!
posted by lyssabee at 6:52 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Do you have or can you borrow 2 or 3 crockpot(s)? Aldi has them on sale for $20 here this week.

This entire menu can be made the day before! Day of the party, heat the pork and beans before putting them in the crockpots, heat the crockpots, then transfer to the beach. All of this can transfer at room temperature for an hour or even another hour with no problem, the cockpots will stay hot. The cooler can be kept for drinks. If it is hot, the optional salad should be in the drink cooler.


optional chopped salad tastes like an Italian sandwich/hoagie/sub - easy to modify, makes ahead very well - just add the lettuce and toss at the beach

pulled pork (crockpot), this recipe is 5 stars, modify the rub based on what you have or buy the spices in bulk (Whole Foods, Mexican grocery)

cole slaw - look for a recipe that has vinegar and a touch of ketchup, the sugar could be reduced in this recipe

baked beans (in another crockpot) - optional buy cans and doctor with some extra ketchup, sugar, vinegar

bbq sauce on the side - 1 or 2 homemade or buy (Trader Joe's has a couple really tasty options)


Brownies - or if you have another crockpot you could make lava cake, extra or a bowl of homemade whipped cream
posted by RoadScholar at 7:10 AM on October 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a lot of potluck experience in places where it's hard to reheat or I could only bring a crock pot, and the following items have worked out really well for me:

One-hour dinner rolls

Baked sweet potatoes. Just...oven-cooked, in-skin. I used the white type of sweet potato, and I went to three different stores to collect about 15 of the smallest, most evenly-shaped specimens. Roasted in oven, transported in the crock of my crock pot, served lukewarm with containers of softened butter in plain, garlic, and cinnamon-sugar options. I halved them at the last minute when I realized there were more people there than I expected, but they were gone before I got any.

Pulled pork, pulled chicken, or carnitas, served with above dinner rolls or other small buns for making handle-able sliders.

Not-so-dirty rice. I often bring this to potlucks veganized (I've used Beyond Meat feisty crumbles a couple of times, or I chop up some Morningstar Farms breakfast sausage and fry it with a tablespoon or so or soyrizo) as an eggless/halal-friendly option. It's still good lukewarm and it's not bad cold either.

Devil dogs. My husband, who has never baked, made these a couple of weeks ago to soothe a craving. They were amazing.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:19 AM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

"Picnic chicken" is a perfect dish for this, cooked beforehand and served cold or at room temp. America's Test Kitchen has a really great recipe, reproduced here. Good luck and enjoy this really meaningful event!
posted by lazywhinerkid at 12:17 PM on October 9, 2015

Y'all are coming through like gangbusters! I really, really appreciate it! I want to make this very special for my spouse who has put up with so much to get where we are. I'll do all the cooking and she is my very favorite dishwasher.
posted by kamikazegopher at 1:46 PM on October 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

My friend had a big backyard barbecue by making BBQ pulled pork in slow cookers/crock pots. A slow cooker is perfect for pulled pork so it gets nice and tender. Slow cookers are also a cook way to cook mac and cheese or corn bread and keep it warm, which she also served. She used her own slow cooker and then borrowed more from friends. Her party was pretty big though, like 40 people, but I'm not sure she even needed to use the oven.
posted by AppleTurnover at 3:26 PM on October 9, 2015

I'm working on the logistics of a bunch of things inspired by this thread. Thank you so very much for the ideas. I'll post more to let you know what worked out.
posted by kamikazegopher at 2:48 AM on October 14, 2015

I'm doing a dry (well, hopefully not dry), run on the pork in the slow cooker today!
posted by kamikazegopher at 7:21 AM on October 14, 2015

Nothing to add to menu planning, but all wishes of health and happiness to your partner, and cheers to you for being so supportive.
posted by beignet at 10:35 PM on October 24, 2015

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