Summer is the perfect time of year for entertaining. That often means you will be grilling for a crowd. Here are our picks for the beat meats that will satisfy your guests while you show off your cooking chops.
Easy Options: Burgers and Brats
If your guest list numbers over a dozen people in addition to you and your family, you may want to go the easy route out and serve meats that are easy to cook and practically fail safe. That means burgers and brats (or other sausages).
In either case, start with the best quality meat you can find. For burgers, use 80/20 ground beef. You could also opt for something more exotic, such as buffalo or even the more expensive Wagyu beef. Plan on using a half pound per person, unless you wish to provide really thick or stuffed burgers for your guests. Just make the patties, sprinkle with salt and pepper, make a thumbprint in the middle, then put them on the grill. Cook burgers for about 4 minutes per side and add cheese after they are flipped.
Check out this recipe for cheese-stuffed burgers, courtesy of The Food Network and Melissa D’Arabian.
When it comes to sausages, again, quality matters. Peruse the offerings in the deli case at your local grocery store to find different varieties. If serving hot dogs, opt for a major brand name for meaty, thick dogs or visit a local butcher shop. Plan on serving one brat or sausage per person. Since most of these meats are precooked, all you have to do when grilling for a crowd is char them nicely and perhaps serve with an array of condiments such as grilled onions, relish, different kinds of mustard and shredded cheese.
Medium Difficulty: Steaks
When it comes to barbecuing, steaks are king. And if you really want to impress your guests, visit your butcher to find the best quality porterhouse, filet mignon, Wagyu or T-bone steaks. Barring that, opt for a ribeye steak which is nicely marbled and quite flavorful.
Offering steaks when grilling for a crowd requires a bit of skill and timing. Preparation is easy – just sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper and let them rest at room temperature for up to half an hour before placing them on a preheated barbecue. The most difficult part is cooking each steak to your guests’ preferences and being ready for everyone to eat at the same time – or as close as possible. Create different heat zones on your barbecue in order to accomplish this. Finish each steak off with a pat of butter, with or without herbs and garlic, for a steak that will taste as if it came directly from a big-name steakhouse.
This recipe for Garlic Butter Steak from Taste of Home will get you started.
Other Meats: Low and Slow
Another good option when grilling for a crowd is to choose meats that cook low and slow, such as racks of ribs, tenderloin roasts or brisket. For best results, marinate or rub the meat at least several hours ahead of time, then allow it to get to room temperature before placing on the grill. We like to place these meats on a hot barbecue to sear the surface and lock in juices, then cook them the rest of the way off direct heat or wrapped in foil. These meats work perfectly for feeding a big group; if your barbecue is large enough, you can easily cook two or more cuts at the same time.
You may want to try your hand at this Barbecue Brisket recipe, courtesy of Epicurious.
When grilling for a crowd, make things simple on yourself and your guests by preparing simple meats, then spending minimal time at the barbecue so you can enjoy the party, too.