Help me BBQ!
June 18, 2017 6:30 AM   Subscribe

I'm a novice BBQ'er and planning to host my first BBQ next weekend. So can you give me your tips and advice for best BBQing and some easy and simple recipes, both for the BBQ and for sides? There will be some vegetarians in attendance so recipes to suit their needs also welcome. It's a charcoal BBQ.
posted by roolya_boolya to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I would advise getting one of these grill baskets. They look like another gimmick but they really aren't: they make it SO much easier to grill (marinated) eggplant, mushrooms and other veggies and actually get them all the way done, not burnt, and juicy and tasty. So much better and easier than sticking everything on skewers!
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:43 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]

Do you have a chimney starter (totally worth it). How to use.
posted by gudrun at 6:44 AM on June 18 [5 favorites]

"BBQ" is a term with regionally different meanings so I swear I'm not just being a pedantic barbecue snob: are you grilling (high direct heat, things like hamburgers and hotdogs), or preparing the cuisine of barbecue (low and slow, with smoke, whole cuts of meat)?

If the former, I suggest Serious Eats' recipes for the grill. If the latter (and some of the former too), Amazing Ribs.
posted by supercres at 6:44 AM on June 18 [9 favorites]

Super easy and tasty recipe that everyone gets really impressed at: Galbi! Korean short ribs
posted by astapasta24 at 6:46 AM on June 18

For example:
dice eggplant, zucchini and an onion; add sliced mushrooms. Toss with some apple cider vinegar, a generous splash of olive oil and a pressed clove of garlic; add some herbes de Provence and pepper. Throw it all in the grill basket and grill it on top of your BBQ. Enjoy!
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:46 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]

Halloumi kebabs are easy, veggie and work well on a BBQ .
posted by biffa at 7:19 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]

Echoing biffa: halloumi cheese interspersed with cherry tomatoes on skewers! We made those yesterday for my daughter's graduation beach BBQ.
posted by anadem at 8:09 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]

Assuming you mean grilling, I recommend thick slabs of watermelon as something that is fool proof an delicious. For vegetarian options, grilled tofu and seitan are also delicious, can do thick slabs or on skewers, brush on a little soy sauce, oil, ginger, pepper.

Veggie burgers come in a wide variety and are fairly foolproof, I like the ones based on black beans.

For meats, I find chicken legs and thighs to be the easiest, most forgiving and crowd pleasing. Glaze with whatever you want, I like some pineapple juice and soy sauce instead/in addition to bbq sauces.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:14 AM on June 18

Let the coals burn down to where they have a coating of gray ash before you start grilling. It is so tempting to put stuff on over the glowing red coals, but don't do it! Everything will burn on the outside before it cooks through on the inside. Cooking over indirect heat (put the coals on one side and the food on the other) is also a great technique.
posted by bluebird at 8:21 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]

Leave the friggin' top on the thing.
posted by humboldt32 at 8:59 AM on June 18

An instant-read meat thermometer takes the guesswork out of making sure things are done the way you want and not over-or-under done. It's made a huge difference for me. Also, second the chimney.

I'm a pretty basic griller - my current favorite meat is boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Marinate for a couple hours in whatever (I often just use a vinegary hot sauce (Tapatio or Louisiana-style) with some extra garlic and black pepper) and throw flat on a pre-heated, oiled grill. They usually only take 15 min or so on a slowish, covered grill.

Current favorite side is strips of onion, red bell pepper, and jalapeño with whole crimini mushrooms topped with a little olive oil, black pepper, and garlic powder, then shaken/stirred so well-coated before placing in a basket or similar flat accessory.

Can't help with vegetarian options, but I will say that way back in my vegetarian-for-spiritual-reasons days, I would have been uncomfortable eating something grilled alongside meat, with the resulting fat and smoke. I'd have probably eaten it anyway, but felt a little weird about it. I have no idea if others would be bothered by that though - I may have been a complete outlier in feeling that way.
posted by ClingClang at 9:09 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]

Get some pointy sweet red bell peppers. Cut them in half and remove the seeds. Put a soft cheese of your choice in each half. Grind some pepper over the cheese.
Now roast each half (open/cheese side up, of course) on a not too hot fire (or not too close to the fire) so the pepper roasts and the cheese melts.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:30 AM on June 18

Grilled chicken is delicious, but works best if you pre-cook the chicken. Pressure-cook or poach in beer or another flavorful liquid until mostly cooked, then grill to get the smoke and a little char. All kinds of sausages do well; haven't tried fish sausage, but I'll bet it's good. I keep meaning to try grilled peaches. Corn on the cob.

I love kabobs. Prepare peppers, onions, tomatoes, yellow summer squash, par-boiled potatoes, and marinated tofu, beef, kielbasa, chicken, etc. Guests can choose and make their own kabobs or you can prepare them in advance and keep meat and non-meat separate. Some of the peppers can be slightly hot, just label them.

An instant-read meat thermometer is a good way to keep it safe. I got food poisoning from undercooked steak that must have been contaminated. I was very, very sick; it's really important to cook meat thoroughly. The basket is a good idea. Some veg can be sliced lengthwise, like summer squash, to keep it on the grill.
posted by theora55 at 9:34 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]

Don't forget dessert: roasted chocolate banana. Leaving it in its skin, slice a banana down its shortest length (ie inside the curve). Insert 3-4 small bits of chocolate, dark works better. Wrap in tin foil, stick in the embers, eat when ready.
posted by biffa at 9:47 AM on June 18 [3 favorites]

best advice I have ever been given is to not fuss with the meat too much. give it time to soak up the heat (~5-7 min) before flipping it.
posted by evilmonk at 12:38 PM on June 18

Here's any easy side dish for mushroom fans. Works for vegetarians. Goes great with steak.

Take one or two giant Portabella mushrooms. Remove the stems and slice into 1/3" strips. Put in a plastic bag. Add 1/4 cup of salad dressing and shake gently. (I use Italian dressing, but a vinaigrette works, too.) Let set for a 5-10 minutes. Grill directly over the coals, 3-4 minutes a side.
posted by dws at 12:44 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]

Some vegetarian ideas...

1. Get some halloumi cheese! It's a salty Greek cheese that can be thrown right on the grill. Grill slices and squeeze lemon over it, or put chunks of it on skewers with fresh figs. People will be impressed.

2. I also really like grilling marinated mushrooms. I'll pop the stems out of a lot of button mushrooms, throw them into a big ziploc bag, and add salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic parsley, white wine, and maybe some lemon or white wine vinegar. Give it a good shake, leave it alone for a while, then grill the mushrooms on a grill basket so they don't fall in.

3. Also, a side I always make that's good with grilled anything and also as a taco condiment: spiralize or grate a bunch of carrots and beets, mix with garlic, minced jalapeño and cilantro, add a lot of lime juice and let it sit for at least an hour before eating.
posted by centrifugal at 2:32 PM on June 18 [3 favorites]

If you're a real total novice, enlist one of your friends who knows this stuff to be your grill-whisperer. Have them stand nearby with cocktail in hand to murmur tips and advice. You don't want a hovering crowd offering well-meant contradictory opinions unless you're comfortable with this sort of chaos.
posted by ovvl at 5:47 PM on June 18

Cleaning a grill is a big pain and takes awhile so you will need to keep you grills separate for the vegetarians and the carnivores. It you have two grills you can swap them out or you can use foil grill pans.

Wear something that is already stained.

For simple vegetarian grilling make skewers with cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, green pepper wedges, or sweet coloured pepper wedges, and sweet salad onion wedges. Soak your skewers and strip any splinters. For the carnivore option simply add many cubes of beef.

Asparagus wrapped in tinfoil is a treat. So are ears of corn. So is a whole salmon, stuffed with onions, but it takes awhile and goes in the grill with the lid down for awhile.

Avoid using chemical barbeque starter such as ligher fluid - start your coals early! The lighter fluid taste can permeate everything and dousing everything in sugar or hot sauce to conceal it is a dubious solution at best. You might even do a practice run to start you coals. Dousing everything with lighter fluid is easy but a sure sign of bad cooking to come.

Good quality meat not doused in sauce done on a grill is a wonderful thing. All it needs is a little salt and pepper.

It is often economical to cut up a good quality roast rather than to get butcher's cuts. If the roast has bones either save them for soup, or better yet grill them without sauce or salt or seasoning and then share them with the dog (when cool!)

Do not, do not DO NOT leave a dirty grill outside or you may hear some banging and clanging on your deck at night to signify that the three bears are out there getting revenge on Goldilocks. They will happily come through your screen door to get a grill. They will happily come seven miles away from the sanitary landfill to get your grill. Just sayin'.
posted by Jane the Brown at 4:13 AM on June 19

this is the best. take corn, peel off all the layers, and in its naked glory, put it on the grill until it gets nice and brownish. seriously. this is caramelized corn. :)
posted by ellerhodes at 8:40 PM on June 19

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