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May 13, 2009 06:04 AM

A more interesting cookout?

We are having a cookout for 25 or so people, mostly adults though it's for my son's first birthday. I'd like to go beyond the usual hamburgers and hot dogs, but I don't want too much more work. As creative as I usually am in the kitchen, I'm drawing a blank here. Grill usage and fork-and-knife avoidance are probably best. My mother suggested kebabs, but I don't know -- I just can't get excited about that. I suppose I could swap out ground beef and dogs for something more interesting -- buffalo and sausage. Or ... thoughts? Side dish suggestions welcome too.

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  1. How about tacos or quesadillas? You can have a couple of different fillings (one meat, one veg) and serve with with refried beans, Mexican rice, guacamole or salad (all quite easy to make in advance).

    1 Reply
    1. re: Paula76

      Or fajitas. If you do tacos, you could add fish tacos to the mix.....

    2. Beef, pork or chicken satays. Bratwurst chunks on skewers. Grilled pizzas.

      1. Make kebabs, but kebabs in the sense of highly spiced ground beef or lamb pressed around the skewer and grilled. It's a middle eastern and Indian/Pakistani thing. Serve it with raita or tzatziki and grilled pitas or naan.

        This is a recipe for kibbeh (lebanese kababs):

        This is for a minced lamb kabab with papya in it: (for mutton just use lamb


        This is cubed meat kababs but with a very interesting marinade made with ground cashews:

        3 Replies
        1. re: Morganna

          This sounds divine! I'm having a cookout this weekend and this sounds right up our alley. Thanks for posting the recipes!

          1. re: Morganna

            How about chicken tikka - take a whole bunch of legs and breast pieces, score and leave overnight in a yogurt marinade flavoured with chillis, salt, cumin, fresh and dry coriander, turmeric and a pinch of asoefetida. grill over a hot abrbeque. Veg option can be done using paneer, same marinade and served with grilled bell peppers and onions

            1. re: waytob

              don't forget the ginger and garlic.

          2. Kebabs are fairly labor intensive, you've got to cut everything to size, make sure they're skewered, then you've got to grill them all piece by piece, etc. If you go the American way which is vegetable and meat all on the same skewer, you're not going to get a great quality product. It may be pretty, but it's not the best that it could be because items cook at different rates: you'll end up with raw onion and dry meat. Something like Morganna suggested would be easier.

            My suggestion is to cook something large. This way you only have ONE thing to cook (maybe 2 with 25 people) and your prep time is cut waaaay down, and serving is super easy too. I'm thinking something along the lines of a whole pork loin or a whole fillet of beef if you want to get fancy. You could also entertain the idea of a leg of lamb or if you're interested in smoking, you could toss a couple of pork shoulders on the smoker.

            The overall point is that 25 people is a lot to cook for so think reeeeeal hard about the logistics of everything and be realistic. For example take the kebab idea. Let's assume that each person has 3 kebabs. What's 3 times 25? Right, 75! That's 75 things to grill. Now I'm not saying that my idea is the best in the world, but compare 75 things on the grill compared to 2 or 3 things.

            2 Replies
            1. re: SQHD

              I like the cook-something-large idea. I have a smoker and a big charcoal grill so plenty of room. Two people keep kosher so I'll have to figure out something for them. I am making an elaborate cake, so I think I will skip the homemade rolls!

              1. re: SQHD

                I often serve kebabs at large parties - especially when I have not idea about individual's likes or dislikes. I make beef, lamb, and chicken. Each skewer holds about 1/2 lb of type of meat that has been cubed (1-1 1/2) and so each will feed 2 people. The beef gets a dry rub, the lamb is marinated, and the chicken is simply brined with some herbs.

                For a party of 25, I'd suggest making 6 beef, 4 chicken, and 4 lamb skewers. Use two or more grills or accept that some meat will be cooler. For service, remove the meat from the skewers onto large trays to that people can choose the amount, the doneness and the types of meat they like. I also like to serve a large selection of dips/sauces that complement each type.

                Since this is fairly plain meat, nearly every side goes well. I like a pilaf since can be made as a large batch in the oven, it keeps warm until service, and does not suffer from being at room temperature. A fruit salad made of mangoes and/or papayas with greens is easy, looks exotic, and can be made ahead.

                As SQHD notes, planning in advance will made this a fun event for you and everyone else.

                Recipes on request.
                Happy eating!

              2. A few pork shoulders can be put on 8 hours before you wish to serve. Very tasty and very easy. You will not have to stand over it while your guests are arriving.

                1 Reply
                1. re: phantomdoc

                  yup--feeding 25 folks with a cook-to-order menu on a home grill set up is likely to cause heartburn for the chef. limited grill surface area and the time constraints of serving folks more or less at once can make one nuts. a pulled pork sandwich buffet is an awfully good solution--you can go nuts in private before the guests arrive. good slaw. if you want to flex your cooking muscles, add some home made sandwich bread or buns to the menu.

                  shh, don't tell anybody, but with a one-year-old as the center of attention, i'd be tempted to engage an on-site grill caterer. you didn't hear that from me, though.