BBQ Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Use Lighter Fluid

Don’t use lighter fluid to light your barbecue. Or match light charcoal. Ever.

No pitmaster worth their salt wants the taste of lighter fluid in their food, and that’s exactly what you get when you use it to start your fire and when you use match light charcoal (which is essentially charcoal soaked in lighter fluid). Stop it! Light your coals the right way:

  1. Only use natural lump charcoal. (If you are feeling especially creative and motivated, you can make your own.)
  2. Use a chimney starter:
    1. Put a pile of coals in your barbecue, smoker, or fire pit
    2. Load more coal into a chimney starter
    3. Put 2 pieces of crumpled up newspaper in the bottom of the starter
    4. Place the chimney on your grill, or some other fire-proof location
    5. Light the paper

The chimney will naturally draw the fire up into the coals and light them. When they are all lit, you can pour them on top of the pile of charcoal in your cooker and your’ll be ready to go.

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Easy Grilled Guacamole

This is an easy guacamole recipe that anyone can make, with the added dimension of grilling the ingredients ahead of time. This will jack the flavor level up to 11. Everything is better when it’s cooked over fire, right?

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Easy Grilled Guacamole
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
Prep
  1. Set up your grill for direct cooking, and preheat to high.
  2. Cut the avocado and tomato in half. Remove the avocado pit and discard. Leave the avocado in its skin.
Cook
  1. Grill the tomato and avocado halves cut side down for about 5 minutes, or until it just starts to char. Remove from the grill.
Combine
  1. Scoop the avocado out of the skin into a non-reactive bowl. Mash with a spoon. Dice the tomato. Add the tomato, cilantro, and the juice from the lime, and mix thoroughly. Salt to taste. Serve immediately.
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Salt Roasted Chicken

Indiegog-backer-party

Grilling a whole chicken on a gas grill can be challenging: too long, and you dry it out, too soon, and you have undercooked chicken. This recipe will guarantee you perfect chicken every time, and will wow your guests as well.

I found this technique in a few different places, and adapted it for a barbecue I hosted for my Indiegogo backers.  The leg bones literally pulled straight out of the bird with no resistance.

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Salt Roasted Chicken
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1-2 hours
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1-2 hours
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat your grill to 500-600 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Remove the neck and giblets from the cavities in the chicken. Put the lemon, onion, and garlic into the main cavity.
  3. In a large, clean pot or in a sink with the drain plugged, slowly add water to the 3 pounds of sea salt, mixing with your hands until it has the consistency of snow. Cheat on the drier side if you aren't sure how much water; you can always add more later.
  4. Put a remote thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh.
  5. In a foil catering pan, create a bed of the sea salt about 1" thick. Place the chicken on the salt bed, and then pack the remaining salt around the chicken so it's about 1" thick all around, and that there are no cracks. The chicken should be completely encased in the salt.
  6. Place the pan in the middle of your grill, close the lid, and let it roast for 1-2 hours, depending on how large the chicken is, how thick the salt pack is, how much water is in the salt, etc. The chicken will be done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Remove the chicken from the grill, and using a meat mallet, heavy knife, or your buddy's skull, break open the salt crust and reveal the chicken. Allow to rest for about 30 minutes, and then carve and serve.
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BBQ Party Ideas: Throw the ultimate backyard bash

bbq-party

Tips from the experts for a backyard barbecue party that will leave people talking

Plan Ahead

“An Aces Event is all about the prep work. It’s about the people you bring together: friends, teams, or even a community.” Chuck Francisco is a film host at the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville and a Master of Ceremonies for Swing Kat Entertainment. He’s been involved in putting on monthly horror screenings at the historic theater in Phoenixville, PA, and locally famous perennial events such as BlobFest and Blob Ball. Whether it’s a BBQ party or a Halloween bash, he knows something about pleasing the crowd. “Mapping out all the minutia in advance is what allows your events this ability to feel authentic and organic- and what will have people reminiscing about it years from now.”

Plan out your BBQ party: the meals, music, decor, where the food will go, when it will need to go on the grill or out of the smoker. Getting all of this down on paper ahead of time will make the day of the event go much smoother, and you’ll be less stressed.

Some resources to help you keep track of everything:
Facebook Events: if your entire guest list is active on Facebook, this will be the easiest tool to keep track of RSVPs and message all of your guests
eVite: know who’s coming, who’s not. Great if you have people you’re inviting who don’t have or use Facebook

 

Download your free BBQ checklist

 

BBQ Party Food

This is the centerpiece of the BBQ party, it’s raison d’etre. Planning this feast ahead of time will make you less stressed while working the fire or running between your grill and the kitchen, and leave you more time to mingle with your guests.

A good guide for the flow of the meal:
Appetizer (either ready to go when guests arrive, or just pulling it off the fire)
Main Course: 2 meats, 1 veggie, 2 sides (this will cover just about every taste palet there)
Dessert (either go simple, like ice cream and grilled pound cake, or make it a presentation, like a grilled apple crisp)

Whatever you can make ahead of time, do. Sides are usually in this category. This will leave you time to concentrate on the main course, where your attention should be.  A BBQ party should center around great food and great friends…checking this off your list will make it easier to enjoy both.

Food Network has a calculator that will help you estimate how much you need to buy.

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Do Something Cool

To truly elevate your BBQ party, you need to add a cool factor. Depending on your skill level working the fire, maybe it’s as simple as cooking steaks caveman style right on the coals, or maybe as complex as cooking a whole hog. Whatever your comfort level is, make sure to include something like this to push your simple backyard BBQ into the territory of an Event. This will give your guests something to talk about, and have them looking forward to the next time.

Some suggestions:
Caveman Steaks: cook the steaks directly on the coals
– Carne Asado: cooking Argentinian style with your food staked around an open pit
Smoked Cocktails: a simple touch that elevates the drinks
– Smoked Meat: a simple approach, but the smell from the smoker will have your guests salivating
– Burger Bar: offer your guests a slew of different, sometimes off-beat toppings (like peanut butter and jelly…no seriously, it’s a thing) and offer a prize to whomever comes up with the most creative (and yet still edible) burger
– Hot Sauce Bar: offer an array of hot sauces of varying degrees of burn
– Whole Hog: not for the faint of heart. This takes skill and patience.

BBQ Party Music

“Cater to the crowd,” says The Quixote Project’s Jeff Selby, who’s musical tastes run from Bob Segar to A Tribe Called Quest. “But you can never go wrong with the iree vibes of Bob Marley at a cook out!”

Pandora and Spotify both have summer mix channels you can tap into if you don’t have time to curate a playlist yourself.

Speaking of catering to the crowd, Casey “Caseyboy” Foster of WMMR‘s Preston & Steve Show made a specific request: Barbecue from Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas.

Let it Ride

A final note of advice from Chuck Francisco: “Pick a place, buy supplies, set the tone, and then step back to allow an amazing shindig the space to evolve naturally.”

More BBQ Party Ideas

31 Best Backyard BBQ Party Ideas

25+ BEst Ideas for a BBQ Party

Traditional BBQ Menu

Sauces that will Elevate Your BBQ Party

10 Next Level BBQ Ideas