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May 31, 2009 06:32 AM

Help a Brit plan an American-themed BBQ!

So I'm planning a BBQ party birthday for Mr GG, who was born on the 4th July. The obvious theme is Independence Day, and you're the experts, right?

So what to cook? I need vegetarian and fish ideas as well as meat. So far I'm thinking of making potato salad and coleslaw from Bon Appetit Y'All, and probably some kind of salad. I suppose caesar is quintessentially American, but there must be some other classics out there. Blue cheese dressing, maybe?

For mains, I'd rather not do individual stuff like burgers as it's too much work for a crowd. I could do some spatchcocked chickens with some kind of rub, but maybe that's a bit dull. Is it really hard for a novice to do classic American BBQ pork or similar?

I'd also like to serve some kind of punch or cocktail.

We have a Weber kettle barbecue, btw.

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  1. Also, I am by NO means a bbq expert, but another thing you might ask about is pulled pork sandwiches. A messy, fun main, and although there is bbq-ing involved, it can be done, I think, a bit ahead of time.

    This is such a great idea for a party. Will you tell us how it turned out?

    1. Darn! Where did the first part of my reply go? Must have wiped it. So...

      What's for dessert? One suggestion, if you will be doing this close to home (and hence your freezer): ice cream sundaes. It's amazing how much otherwise grown-up grownups love an ice cream sundae. You can spiff the whole thing up, of course, by making home-made ice cream, home made chocolate or caramel sauce (or both), maybe bbqing a few pineapple rings...

      1 Reply
      1. re: linengirl

        Ice-cream sundaes - love that idea. Just have to make room in the freezer!

      2. American "pulled pork" is easy to do on a Weber kettle, is generally a crowd-pleaser, and is easy to prepare in advance and serve. It is, however, a little messy to eat.

        There are of course a million ways to do this, and opinions tend to be strongly held in N. America when it comes to all things smokey and savoury.

        My approach is simple: Take big hunk of pork shoulder (maybe 2.5 - 3 kg--ideally boneless and rolled, but bone-in is fine, too), salt and pepper it, and cook it on the BBQ indirectly with some soaked hardwood chips (I like hickory or maple) on the coals. Takes 3 to 4 hours to get fall-apart tender. Cool. Shred with your fingers or two forks. Mix with the right amount of BBQ sauce (your choice--different regions have different proclivities). I use one from the Weber's Big Book of Grilling [excellent book, incidentally]:

        1/4 minced onion sauteed in 3 TB butter
        2 cups ketchup
        1/2 cup yellow mustard
        1/2 cup cider vinegar
        2/3 cup brown sugar
        2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
        1 tsp Tabasco

        Simmer for 10 minutes and voila! Add enough of this to the pulled pork to get it moist and tasty (without being overpowered by the sauce or overly runny), warm, and serve.

        I think that it is worthwhile making your own sauce, given the limited effort involved. Most bottled sauces are kinda nasty, and the better ones are pricey.

        I serve the pulled pork on buttered toasted buns either as-is or with some sliced sour pickles or tangy coleslaw on top.

        Caesar salad is reasonably common at BBQ's, though it does get soggy, so I make it up in small batches while people are serving.

        Deviled Eggs are also very traditional and tasty.

        I like blue cheese salad dressing though I have to say that it not something I have ever had at a BBQ.

        46 Replies
        1. re: zamorski

          First BBQ I've seen without a rub on it?

          1. re: TimCarroll

            What kind of rub would you recommend? Is it really that easy to make pulled BBQ pork?

            1. re: greedygirl

              Here is a short cut if you are unable to find hickory chips and rubs, etc, ad nauseum. Boil a pork shoulder for 3 hours or pressure cook for one hour. Add
              one half teaspoon of "Liquid smoke" to the sauce receipt above and mix sauce
              with pulled pork. Serve on hamburger buns with sliced dill pickles, cole slaw and
              potato salad. Iced tea is usually served in the southern US. dessert should be
              peach cobbler
              Good luck
              please let us know how this meal plays out

                1. re: paul balbin

                  gg, please, under no circumstances use "Liquid smoke" even if it is available to you in the U.K. Yes, some people use it here, but the rest of us find it vile. Also, no boiling of meat for three hours.

                  Pulled pork is ridiculously easy to make ahead of time if you happen to have a crock pot. Do you?

                  1. re: pitu

                    I don't, I'm afraid. I might be able to borrow one I suppose.

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      I always make mine in the oven with a dutch oven cast iron pot, give it 4 hours or so on low and it's fall apart perfect. I cook it in orange juice or ginger beer to braise, Fine to make the day before,then heat up the day of with a splash of beer and a splash of whatever BBQ sauce you're using. It's Mexican style pulled pork I guess.

                    2. re: pitu

                      I would never boil a pork shoulder, but I do cook mine in the crock pot with a little liquid. And I admit I have used liquid smoke before when I like to get a smoky flavor. I use very little and I don't use it very often but I have. It isn't THAT bad. But not using it is fine. I love to make my pork as I mentioned with some beer and onion and just let it cook all day and with a great sauce.

                      1. re: kchurchill5

                        I'm from North Carolina, the pulled pork capital of the world.

                        yes, you need a rub. this one should cover 8 - 10 pounds of pork shoulder/Boston Butt (in two pieces, with or without bone).
                        2 tbs each of salt, sugar, brown sugar, ground cumin, pure chili powder, fresh ground black pepper.
                        1 tbs cayenne pepper
                        4 tbs paprika (you can used the smoked spanish paprika, pimenton
                        mix together and rub it all over the pork. you can cook immediately or let sit overnight in the refrigerator.

                        you need a sauce. this is the Eastern NC barbecue sauce
                        1 cup white vinegar
                        1 cup cider vinegar
                        1 tbs sugar
                        1 tbs crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you like spicy)
                        1 tbs Tabasco sauce
                        salt and pepper

                        mix together. makes 2 cups.

                        reserve about 3/4 cup to make NC coleslaw...that's just shredded cabbage with this sauce.

                        I just make some pulled pork in the crock pot the other day. Put in pork, add sauce, and cook on low until if falls apart...I cooked mine for 8 hours.

                        Cook ahead of time if you want to de-fat...drain the sauce from the pork and refrigerate separately. A huge amount of orange fat will rise to the surface of the sauce when very cold. Remove some or all. Put pork on a plate and pull it apart with your fingers, removing bones if any. Combine pulled pork with sauce and reheat. serve on white hamburger buns with NC slaw.

                        You won't get the real smoky taste this way but it is so easy ..... I agree, don't use liquid smoke!

                        1. re: Madrid

                          This is how I do mine, and it is good and easy. This also freezes well.

                        2. re: kchurchill5

                          I agree, liquid smoke isn't bad if used properly. I think anything used in excess could be considered bad.

                    3. re: greedygirl

                      Here's my recipe for a rub:

                      4 tablespoons paprika
                      2 tablespoons celery salt
                      2 tablespoons salt
                      2 tablespoons black pepper, coarsely ground
                      2 tablespoons cumin powder
                      3 tablespoons brown sugar
                      1 tablespoon dried oregano
                      1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
                      2 teaspoons dried sage
                      2 bay leaves
                      1 teaspoon dry mustard

                      Place all the ingredients in a food processor and whiz to combine. Slather a skinless pork shoulder with plenty of yellow mustard, then apply as much of the spice mixture as the meat will hold. Refrigerate for 24 hours, then smoke at about 90C until the meat is tender (usually about 12 hours). If you are concerned about maintaining the temperature in your grill, especially for that long, smoke the meat heavily for an hour or so on your Weber, then finish in a very low oven.

                      I use a similar sauce recipe:

                      3 Tablespoons butter
                      1/4 Cup very finely minced onion
                      1 Cup white vinegar
                      1 Cup tomato sauce
                      1/4 Cup worcestershire sauce
                      2 Teaspoons sugar
                      1 Teaspoon salt
                      1/2 Teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
                      1/8 Teaspoon cayenne
                      Dash tabasco sauce

                      In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the onions begin to turn golden. Stir in the remaining ingredients, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the mixture thickens, approximately 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

                  2. re: zamorski

                    Thanks so much for that recipe zamorski. Pulled pork sandwiches sound like a great idea. When you say "indirectly", what does that mean? And does anyone know where I can get hickory chips in the UK?

                    Also yellow mustard - is that an American-style mustard like French's?

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      Remember that BBQ fanatics in the US scorn direct heat. They call putting meat over coals and cooking in 10 - 15 minutes "grilling" and equate it to an ancient barbaric practice good only for unkowing suburbanites, miscellaneous sodamites, and the rare Hitites.. BBQ to those in the know is low and slow! Dry rubbed meat over here, damped down hardwood chips way over there!

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        LOL! So it really isn't that easy for a novice then. I think I will need a masterclass before attempting pulled pork. Would love to try though.

                        1. re: greedygirl

                          Go find Alton Brown's BBQ episode from the Food Network. He used a hot plate, a large clay pot, and some hardwood charcoal bits.

                          1. re: Cinnamon

                            I keep on reading all this stuff about pulled pork in the crock pot or the oven. It may taste good, but really, it's not pulled pork. Pulled pork has to be made with indirect heat and wood smoke. Properly, when you cut into it or "pull" it, there should be a red ring beneath the crust, and yes, it should have a crust. That's proper pulled port, or pork BBQ, or whatever you want to call it. Before we got our big BBQ, my husband would make it in the weber with coals and wet wood chips on one side, pork on the other. About 200 degrees or so should be about right. You don't need special equipment, just a lot of time, maybe 8-12 hours depending on the size of the pork butts. My DH has also made it the day before a BBQ and then warmed it very, very slowly in a low over the day of, so it is actually very party friendly since you can do the lion's share of the work before the event.

                            1. re: roxlet

                              In a perfect world wed all have the "proper" equipment, but sometimes we have to mae do with what we have. I've had wonderful puled pork from a small place in South Carolina with real pits. The owner tooks my Yankee husband back to the pits where they had several pigs, halved snout to tail and smoked over oak coals for 12-14 hours. They made some of the best pork rinds I've ever tasted too. I've never had pulled pork from a big smoker box taste that good.

                              1. re: Candy

                                But what Im saying is that you don't need "proper" equipment to make real pulled pork. You can use any old charcoal-burning grill, be it a weber or otherwise.

                                1. re: roxlet

                                  i don't think it's fair of us to ask GG to do a real 12 hr bbq session with a pork shoulder and a weber, though, when she's never tasted the real item, nor attempted smoke bbq before on her weber. . . particularly when there are so many *americans* on this thread who don't seem to have the know-how/inclination to do this. you can make pulled pork in a crock pot or in an oven, it's just not going to be bbqed pulled pork. . .long as nobody tries to sell it as such, i still think we're fine. i'm trying to remember if there isn't any american bbq take-away in london. . . bbq in big foil pans heats up nicely in an oven--no work at all for the weber!

                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                    I love the real deal, and have had one. It is amazing. But even on my day off I would never have the time time make a true pulled pork, so my version is crock pot, or oven, what ever I can do that day. It isn't authentic in any way, but it is pretty darn good. I still call it BBQ, only because most guest would equate, BBQ on meat a BBQ dish. Not all guest but most. So yes, not authentic, but I still refer to it as BBQ, but I understand the difference. 12 hrs in a webber would be horrifying. I never home for 12 hrs in one day.

                                    1. re: kchurchill5

                                      I love doing it my my crock pot as well, and nobody has ever been the wiser. Plus, this is America, we're free to do it however we want to do it. There is nothing wrong with going the easy route. That is the true American way. =) Plus the crock pot makes it taste like you slaved over it for hours.

                        2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          GG, unless you have 10-15 hours and the proper equipmemt to smoke a pork shoulder, I would strongly recomend that you do not try to make pulled pork. Proper pulled pork can not be rushed. Not that a grilled pork roast would not be good. It just wouldnt be BBQ. When done properly, pulled pork is one of the finest things ever put on a plate.

                          1. re: sdv231

                            So I think I need to clarify here - when I say BBQ I probably mean grill in American, right? So is what I'm talking about here a "cook-out".

                            1. re: greedygirl

                              yes, you're talking about grilling/cooking out in america, "barbecue" in britain, and let's not all try to get GG all sunk into the "what is american bbq" quagmire-- the woman's trying to throw a party for goodness sake! :)

                              1. re: soupkitten

                                I already feel a bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Pulled pork, ribs and shrimp - oh my!

                                1. re: greedygirl

                                  Just relax and have fun. Inadvertantly falling backwards into the fanaticism of the BBQ pit is simply to be avoided by being an ocean apart.

                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                    Grilled (sweet) corn on the cob with butter is also very American.

                                    I said sweet corn because I understand y'all refer to a bunch of things as corn.

                                    1. re: Cinnamon

                                      Maybe this should go in the "divided by a culinary language" thread, but to Brits ever refer to corn (US usage) as "corn," or is it always "maize"?

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        US (sweet) corn is UK sweetcorn (yes, one word). Here in the US we assume corn means sweet corn, and if it's not, specify field corn, i.e., feed corn (which I assume is maize in the UK; I'm going over to the thread on NAF to ask.

                                        ETA Here's a link to the US vs UK food/cooking vocab thread, to avoid taking this further off topic:

                                2. re: greedygirl

                                  GG, I'm one of those Hitites I refer to above. I've even been known to parboil ribs - and got thrown out of the Kingdom of Heaven for ever and ever! But I'd still do the same for a huge party. If I were you and for your more modest affair, I'd get a BIG chunk of pretty good meat; cut it into two or three pieces for (direct and relatively quick) grilling; and then slice really thinly. One piece would be really rare, the next would be rare, and the last medium rare. Serve with different homemade sauces - spicy mexican or Asian, sweet BBQ, sweet Asian. People could serve themselves the amounts and doneness they want. People have some good ideas for sides.

                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    I've done butterflied leg of lamb before, but it's not very American, is it?

                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                      I barbq (sorry grill) leg of lamb all the time, bone and all, it tastes so good! Skirt steak is another good one. Serve with rolls or flatbread so everyone can make sandwiches.

                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                        Well it is Canadian. Had it last weekend - cooked by a fifth generation Canadian ... that's almost indigenous here. Truly excellent. And it has the advantage that you have done it before. Most of us are very forgiving about the final result of cookout food but getting it right makes it so much better.

                                        The only problem is that many people find the flavour of lamb overpowering. It certainly does not need as much seasoning as pork; most modern pork meat is fairly tasteless unless marinated / brined.

                                        I suggest you will need an addendum to the lamb.

                                  2. re: sdv231

                                    bUt like DishDelish says " there is nothing wrong with going the easy route." Even if its not authentic BBq it is still a great dish, and an easy one to do ahead.

                                3. re: greedygirl

                                  Yes, yellow mustard is like French's.

                                  Indirect cooking is just pushing the coals to the side rather than having them right under the meat--otherwise the long cooking time would scorch the hell out of the meat.

                                  As you can see from the posts here, BBQ is a sensitive topic... Try to take any advice (especially those with an absolutist tone) with a grain of salt.

                                  1. re: greedygirl


                                    I think it's unlikely you going to find hickory. I looked at the usual suspects (B & Q and my nearest "big" garden centre) about 12 months ago, after our last trip to the States. Go with whatever chips you can find in the barbie section at B & Q.

                                    French's mustard is what you need for a sauce base - try a Google for "South Carolina BBQ Sauce". I hadnt had till the last trip when we were in SC - it's heavily mustard based and is fab!

                                    1. re: Harters

                                      Hey John - a quick google found the answer to your prayers. Hickory chips galore, and a cedar plank!


                                  2. re: zamorski

                                    There are some resources on Weber 's site. For the UK people that is not pronounced vay-ber but wee-ber. Here is a basic bbq intro plus a few recipes.


                                    1. re: Paulustrious

                                      Wee-ber? Where are you from?

                                      The company is located in a suburb of Chicago where I live and I've never heard it pronounced anything but Web'-er with a short "e".

                                      1. re: chicgail

                                        maybe paulustrious is talking about the tiny weber grill. LOL!

                                        btw, here is weber's uk website -- look for the charcoal grills, like the "one-touch":

                                        1. re: chicgail

                                          It's also not pronounced "vay-ber" - I've always heard it pronounced as you said, chicgail - "Weh-ber", with a short "e".

                                        2. re: Paulustrious

                                          Weeber? I've never heard that. We always call it the "Web-ber" kettle. Yoicks! wrong after all these years.

                                          1. re: oakjoan

                                            wee-ber? as in "weebers wobble but they don't fall down"? ***;-).

                                            i've only heard "web-er," and that includes advertising -- here in the u.s.
                                            apparently it is also pronounced the same (web-er) in oz:

                                            """Weebles trivia
                                            The 70's TV adverts and other advertising for Weebles featured the catchy and lasting phrase "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down!", a phrase which has been reused as a lyric by a band called Lawnmower Deth in their song of the same name!

                                            The name Weebles is also used as a derogatory name for the Ole Miss athletic teams (University of Mississippi)."""


                                            1. re: oakjoan

                                              I'm with you and Alkapal - I always thought it was Weber, I neber eber heard Wee-ber.

                                        3. Low Country Boil is very traditional in the south. It almost cooks itself, has many nice ingredients (seafood, sausage).

                                          put in each of the following for every person:
                                          corn on the cob (1 ear or 1/2 ear)
                                          potatoes (1 red skin or idaho or sweet potato depending on your mood)
                                          onion (1 white or yellow)
                                          chicken (1 piece, doesn't matter what it is... drum, thigh etc)
                                          Kielbasa or italian sausage (1 small piece of a link)
                                          6-12 clams for each person depending on the size
                                          garlic (throw a bunch of this in)
                                          while I'm buying the stuff I might see something else I want to throw in like green peppers or chilies or turnips, just about anything goes.
                                          try putting some shell-on shrimp on top and barely cook it (it's easy to overcook shrimp)
                                          whole crabs if you can get them
                                          seasoned fish wrapped in tinfoil packages
                                          apple cut into pieces with butter, cinnamon and brown sugar wrapped in tinfoil

                                          put a small spacer in the bottom like a colander or something to keep the food out of the boiling water and put everything in layers in a pot with the potatoes, chicken and clams toward the bottom and everything else on top of that , about 1-inch of water and a few beers poured over top of everything, Old Bay seasoning or any seafood seasoning that you like , then turn it on high . the idea is to get the clams to open and juice from chicken and beers to mix and start steaming and foaming up through all the other food mixing the flavors together.

                                          1. I like the pulled pork idea. If you don't want to do that, you could do sliders for a slightly easier take on burgers (just serve them on brown & serve dinner rolls).

                                            Fish for a crowd may be a bit difficult. You could do crab cakes, which are great by themselves or on toasted buns as sandwiches. Crab cakes are good for crowds because you basically make a large mixture and form it into a bunch of patties. You can buy pretty decent flaked crab meat from your local fish mongerer/seafood shop. Here's a grilled crab cake recipe you could try:

                                            Have you thought of doing a potluck? Might make it a lot easier on you if others can bring their own dishes to share. You could just concentrate on a main and the salads you already plan to make.

                                            Good luck, and have a great time!

                                            13 Replies
                                            1. re: javachik

                                              GG did not say how many are attending the festivities...maybe skewered shrimp would be nice if the crabcakes don't work for the fish dish. They're easy to marinade and very quick to cook--maybe a New Orleans spicy bbq'd shrimp dish would be good.

                                              1. re: Val

                                                When I had BBQ shrimp in New Orleans, they weren't actually barbecued! (Incredibly delicious though). Do you have a recipe in mind?

                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                  I've got a recipe that is simple and easy. Delicious too. BBQ shrimp is messy but so good. I'm in a hurry right now, but i will post it for you in a couple of hours.

                                                  I've made pulled pork in my oven. Not a big deal.

                                                  I'd ditch the Ceasar salad, you've got slaw and potato salad, you might want to have a raw veggie assortment with a dip for them. Deviled eggs are a must.

                                                  I usually make blueberry pie on the 4th. I often cut stars out of pastry crust to bake on top.

                                                  1. re: Candy

                                                    That would be great - could you post recipe for oven cooked pulled pork as well please. Thanks.

                                                    1. re: Candy

                                                      Macaroni salad is traditional with us. Green salad wouldn't go over I fear.

                                                      1. re: coll

                                                        We always have a relatively simple green salad at cookouts, but never ceasar. It's too rich and delicious to be one of many dishes, and it's best made to order anyway.

                                                      2. re: Candy

                                                        Still trying with photos. Don't know what is wrong and I've not used Photobucket in so long I've forgotten how.

                                                      3. re: greedygirl

                                                        BBQ shrimp is pure heaven.

                                                        Corn on the cob seems like something that has been left off ... just boil and smear with butter and salt. And I'm going with the fruit desserts as essentially American summer - peach cobbler or something like that. It is really really easy to make, serve with vanilla ice cream.

                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                          I mentioned below. GOT to have corn on the cob, agree with you 100%. A must. I mentioned cobbler too. I love that for summer time. And slather it with ice cream and I'm there. All the best.

                                                          BBQ Shrimp is a best

                                                          FYI: off track a bit, but if you like BBQ, this was a request by a host for me to make some BBQ shrimp at a Memorial Day BBQ. I had 30 min to go to the store and buy food and then come back and 30 min till dinner. So here goes

                                                          Well they have a can of chipoltes, and a jar of generic BBQ, they also had honey, bourbon, yellow grits, cream, and onion. So I went and got a few pounds of shrimp, cilantro, scallions, manchego cheese and papaya. Well I mixed the bourbon, chipoltes, honey, BBQ sauce and let the shrimp marinade for 10-15 minutes as I got the rest ready. I started the grits on the side burner. Just in chicken broth. Added them and stirred them till creamy, added the cream, grated onion and cheese. Then I sauteed the shrimp in a very hot cast iron pan on the grill for just a couple of minutes, added in the chopped papaya and the sauce the shrimp was marinating in. Cooked all until very nice and brown. Served the shrimp and papaya over the cheese grits and topped with scallions chopped. It took literally 10 minutes and was oh so good.

                                                          Just thought I would share. It really was good.

                                                          1. re: kchurchill5

                                                            omg, that sounds delicious! what a great idea, shrimp for Father's Day. Sorry I'm sort of peeking at this for Father's Day ideas, and he (my dh along with the rest of family) love shrimp! Terrific. Though, I'm not sure about the grits, but I can make them and see what happens. I know they all love polenta, so should work out just great.

                                                            By the way, as usual, great usuage of your "on hand" ingredients! You are always so resourceful kc, I like that in a person! ps- doncha love cast iron!

                                                            I am slowly converting all of my cookware, it's so darn durable, tough, and reliable. And, I don't have to worry that I or my dh will burn the bottom out of the pan or dish!

                                                            Thanks for the help with my menu, er ah are ya busy that day??? : )

                                                            1. re: chef chicklet

                                                              You could easily use polenta, I am not as fond of grits but they had them. Polenta is my favorite. It was a really easy quick dish. And yes thank god for cast iron. I love it. I go against a lot of CH's in that cookware doesn't have to be expensive to be good. I have target, farberware, cast iron and good stuff. I like what works. But cast iron is the "bomb."

                                                              Cookin' for Daddy. He already made his request. Fresh grouper, my semi fried, micro smashed and then pan fried potatoes and green beans. He isn't too adventurous. But after 60 years of not cooking, he is learning, so it is fun.

                                                              Yes, I love the ... use what ya have. Sometimes you just have to do it. I love plans don't we all. But face it ... things go wrong, things come up and screw the plans, we have to wing it. I try, it works most times, sometimes I admit, ... it doesn't but we gave it a try at least.

                                                              Keep in touch! CC

                                                    2. re: javachik

                                                      I often do salmon on the grills for a big group. Just get big fillets. You can marinate it first and then serve with a salsa or two--mango? pineapple?