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Help with menu for July 4th

We've had outdoor parties in the past few years whenver July 4th falls in the middle of the week and we can't get away, but what we've found is that we are busy cooking and refilling drinks while our guests just mingle (and enjoy themselves). Well, we've figured out the drink part but now we need help from you folks for ideas (and recipes) for food we can cook but not grill while our guests are there (so we can have some fun too). Thanks in advance for all of your help.
Let me add that there will be about 40 people there.

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  1. Perhaps you could roast a big pork loin (or whatever other cut you like) in advance. Slice or shred the meat and serve it with an assortment of fruit salsas, like pineapple or peach. It'd be just fine at room temperature and could make great sandwiches if served with Hawaiian bread rools or sweet potato rolls.

    1. city chicken was a cookout/picnic standby for midwestern summer holidays when i was a kid. it's good hot or cold. it probably falls into the retro category as it was the '70s when i lived in the midwest.

      1 lb. veal in 1" cubes
      1 lb. lean pork in 1" cubes
      fine dry bread crumbs
      1 slightly beaten egg, mixed with 1 tsp. water
      salt and pepper
      wooden skewers
      1/4 c. oil

      Alternate veal and pork cubes on the sticks. Dip in bread crumbs. Then in egg mixture. Then again in the bread crumbs. Brown on all sides in hot fat in a heavy skillet. Cook on medium heat. Add seasonings. Add a little water. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

      the recipe above is not the one i use, but is fairly typical of city chicken recipes. this is just the first one i hit on with a google search. google around for other examples.

      1. What about crockpot carolina style pulled pork sandwiches w/ cole slaw and potato salad?


        This is an excellent red, white and blue potato salad:


        1 Reply
        1. re: chowser

          the potato salad is fun, a great party food that will get people to talk/ask about it

          the crockpot pulled pork -- not so much. Now, don't get me wrong, in the winter, when only the true diehards head to the grill/smoker the crockpot will tide me over, but the 4th is like "outdoor cooking for all red-blooded Americans", I'd much rather have veggies that were grilled outdoors ahead of time and serverd cold, or kabobs, or satay. anything that is at least "kissed by the grill"....

        2. Big platters of roasted veggies & fruit would go a long way

          1. I bought some boneless shortribs, and because the kitchen was hot, rather than turn on the oven I boiled them for 2 hours then grilled them with barbecue sauce basted on.

            I'd never done that before because boiling beef sounded icky, but it was good and much simpler than grilling to actually cook meat. The fat was rendered away, the meat was tender and beefy, and the barbecue sauce and grill removed any boiled taste.

            Unlike steak or hamburger, you could rewarm this or keep it hot and waiting.

            1. I like katecm's idea of roasting something large in advance that you can pull and use as bbq for sandwiches. Here in Eastern NC, we do a whole pig and have a "pickin'. You'd do the cooking before the guests arrive, then just set out buns and condiments, serve with pasta or potato salad and a bowl of fruit salad and call it a day.

              1. There is a great rib recipe in Bobby Flay's Boy Meets Grill cookbook. I can't find the book right now (we've got some stuff in storage) but it has peanut butter as an ingredient. They were good the first day but they were better one day later. Now, when we grill, we cook up a big batch and let them sit overnight. Then we just warm them up for the party.

                1. There are some great ideas here, and I thank you all. I agree that at least something we serve has to be "touched by the grill",and my wife believes that on the 4th people will be expecting burgers and dogs along w/anything else we serve. We'll see, although a local supermarket is selling ostrich, elk and some other interesting meat for burgers. Do you think it's unethical not to tell the guests what they're eating until after the fact? Just kidding. Any way, thanks again for all of your ideas, and the pondering goes on.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: jnk

                    I've had ostrich burgers and they are better than turkey... I think folks would would 'em.

                    1. re: jnk

                      Your wife might be right about expectations, but you could split the difference. Have a pre-prepared 'big' thing like one of the above suggestions as a main course, and but throw some hot dogs, maybe some kielbasa, and buns on the grill to set the mood and be there for the traditionalists. The big time delay around the grill is the burgers, since everyone has a rare/medium/welldone preference.

                      Or you could do what my mom did one year and serve fresh-picked sweet corn. Nobody even looked for meat when they had the year's first corn on the cob in front of them.

                    2. I agree. I hate having to cook and miss the party. Last weekend I made grilled chicken from Giada's grilled meats and vegetables over saffron orzo and served it at room temp. I used chicken breasts (with skin and bones, otherwise they get too dried out), thighs, wings and drumsticks. It was really, really good and made a beautiful presentation (I served everything on different platters).

                      1. How about a sandwich bar. Get some good rolls. Make up some pulled pork and roast a beef tenderloin and slice it up. Let folks make their own sandwiches. Put out bbq sauce and horseradish. You can also roast a turkey breast for a lighter option and add dijon mustard to the condiment list.

                        Serve along side with slaw, potato salad, sliced watermelon, chips.

                        1. We have had huge 4th of July parties (close to 100 including kids) for the last 15 years and we are the same way, no since in having a party if you can't enjoy it. I try to prepare as much in advance as possible, especially when it falls mid week like this year. We have several friends that would rather "man" the grill than mingle also a good way for preteen boys to earn tips and gives them something to do when their in that awkward stage of not wanting to hang out with kids and bored around the adults. Keep it simple with only hot dogs or "sausage on a stick" and some bacon wrapped jalapenos.