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The best BBQ menu you can think of?

Hi All -

I'm not sure this is the best board but I think so. I'm trying to plan my rehersal dinner - prob about 125 ppl and we're thinking of a bbq buffet. What would your ideal menu be for a perfect BBQ from appetizers to main courses to sides and desserts. The one caveat is some of our family is kosher and I'm trying to think of a way around pork ribs. (we don't have to think of kosher food for everyone, just trying to avoid them feeling uncomfortable)...

The standard menu includes:

beans, corn, cole slaw, chicken, pork ribs and chocolate chip cookies. I'm trying to personalize it a bit more.

Your input is so appreciated as always!


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  1. You could add grilled artichokes as appetizers. Also grilled fruit is a nice dessert....maybe peaches brushed with balsamic glaze? or pineapple slices?
    How about grilled salmon as a main course? You can pick up those large pieces at Costco.(if you're trying to keep costs down)
    And a lot of folks on this board are big fans of Nigella's watermelon salad with feta. Might be nice and refreshing with your menu.

    1 Reply
    1. re: perk

      I love grilled fruit! I've done peaches and plums with a vanilla mint glaze. Yum. Cupcakes are always a good dessert too.

      I also love mac & cheese with bbq. Not boxed mac & cheese, but a good gourmet one. Maybe scalloped potatoes too. Cucumber salad.

      And here is an interesting and different garlic bread that my husband and I love: French bread, cut and spread with a thick layer of butter. Top with powdered garlic or crushed garlic, and a little bit of caraway seed and red pepper flakes.

    2. Brisket
      Why do ribs at all if you are worried about people who keep kosher feeling uncomfortable?
      I'd think about brisket / salmon / chicken.

      Appetizers: I'd stick with low maint. Chips/dip, salsa, guac, cheese trays. BBQ will steal the show - especially a good brisket. Not much q can top a good brisket. I do love ribs, but good brisket is a whole different level of q.

      Main: chicken / brisket/ fish/ grilled vegetables, corn on cob, beans
      Salads - simple mixed green / slaw / tater

      1. For real barbecue, I have to agree with brisket, smoked and cooked slow. With that, I would serve barbecue beans--pintos with onion, homemade barbecue sauce, and a bit of brisket stirred in (rather than pork) and potato salad. A chop salad: romaine, small cubes of cheese, meat like salami (optional), onion, garbanzos, red bells. Coleslaw with creamy dressing. Jalapeno cheese bread.

        Pie, like fruit or coconut cream would be a nice finish, as would strawberry shortcake or fruit served over pound cake.

        for starters--cold things like shrimp cocktail?

        1 Reply
        1. re: cocktailhour

          what if bbq isn't "real" and done by a (good) caterer? are you still a fan of brisket?

        2. Appetizers: Marinated grilled shrimp on skewers
          Punch bowls full of icy cold gazpacho
          Main Course: Smoked Beef Briskets (these can be done ahead and freeze very well)
          Grilled chicken (buy Kosher)
          Sides: Cole Slaw, Sliced Tomatoes & Cucumbers, BBQ beans, Fresh corn off the cob salad with fresh basil and chopped red onion, potato salad, deviled eggs, maybe a pasta salad sans meat for vegetarians

          Rolls or Cornbread, Honey Butter

          Dessert: Brownies, Watermelon

          Is this being catered or is someone doing the cooking at home?

          5 Replies
          1. re: anni

            Is shrimp even kosher?
            Pardon my ignorance if it is indeed, kosher, but I thought it was not.

              1. re: gordeaux

                Oh! Did they want a totally kosher menu? I guess I misunderstood.

              2. re: anni

                it's being catered, which is why I said it won't be authentic bbq/home cooked.

                1. re: gramercyfoodie

                  If your caterer can't handle it, aren't there all kinds of places that you can order a fully cooked (smoked) brisket from? I'm sure your caterer can understand if you purchased the brisket and asked them to heat it up (for an extra charge, of course.) Surprising they don't have the smarts to offer it. They can just order it, slap a new price tag on it, slice it, warm it, and serve it.

                  A quick simple search turned up numerous options for buying vaccuum packed, fully cooked briskets.

              3. I keep kosher - so my ideal menu would include either beef ribs, brisket, or skirt steaks - for people who do not want beef mayne some BBQ or beercan chicken for sides grilled corn, baked beans (I cheat and use Bush's Vegetarian Baked Beans), ,potatos baked on the grill, cole slaw - for appetizers grilled kosher salami with BBQ sauce and grilled veggie skewers and for dessert a nice fruit pie -

                1 Reply
                1. re: weinstein5

                  I second the brisket. Can they make blackeyed peas? I also would vote for mac and cheese (those who keep kosher can skip it, but if there are any kids there, it would be a hit with them.) For dessert: peach cobbler, which would not be kosher if it's made with lard, but you could ask them to do a butter crust or a crisp instead.

                2. For a BBQ appetizer I sometimes do a BBQ flatbread-you can grill storebought pizza dough, roll it out, put some oil on it & put it right on the grill. When the doughs cooked, pull it off & then add BBQ chicken or pork, BBQ sauce, caramelized onions, monterey jack cheese & scallions. Put it back in the grill on low to melt everything & cut into tiny bites-theyre great little one bite snacks & are real easy.

                  1. I would add some really thick steaks done medium and cut into strips, maybe served with flat bread or tortillas. They are alot less messy to eat than ribs and nothing beats a great grilled steak. You could even have the grilled veg like fajitas.

                    Also I can not imagine any other dessert than ice cream. You ask the caterer to make some with multi-coloured sprinkles and call it confetti ice cream.

                    1. Have no idea if you're talking about southern BBQ (slow cooking in a smoke oven) or grilling. If grilling, You do know that ribs (and brisket) need slow cooking?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mpalmer6c

                        I'll second the grilled fruit idea. Grilled fruit is delicious, plus it will be good for guests who don't want to eat dairy shortly after having eaten meat. Try brushing with a mixture of honey blended with an equal part of dry white wine. I'd also do veggie kebabs with red and yellow bells and red onions. Marinate them in lime juice, oil, some minced jalapenos and garlic, pure chili powder and cumin with s and p.

                      2. Instead of pork ribs, try lamb riblets. If you're having the dinner catered, why not use a reliable, certified Kosher caterer? You don't say what "kosher" means to your relatives, but any pork, ham, bacon, lobster, SHRIMP, shellfish, or milk with meat combination is absolutely not kosher. Why don't you ask one of your relatives for help with the menu and some recommendations for caterers. They would probably be your best guide into the vast territory of Kosher and they'd be pleased to help.

                        1. Appetizer: beer
                          Main course: ribs (pork, of course)
                          Beverage: beer
                          Side dish: ribs
                          Dessert: beer and ribs

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ricepad

                            as i said in my querry pork ribs wouldn't work due to kosher reasons.

                          2. thanks so much everyone for your help. we came up with a good menu - it's not as chow exciting as i would have hoped but we had limitations in dealing with the caterer (and kosher family members).

                            -bbq chicken
                            -beef ribs
                            -garden salad
                            -cole slaw
                            -corn on cob
                            -pasta salad
                            -baked potatoes
                            -apple pie

                            1. Sounds like a great menu. Too late, but for other menu additions for BBQ in general I'd throw in any of the following: mac and cheese, corn pudding, (not sure about the dairy factor for those two), collards cooked with a couple of beef ribs, dirty rice and beans, sweet potato pie.