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Making a huge burger bar this weekend - what other toppings and accoutrements do we need?!

On Saturday, my fiance is hosting a big barbecue for a bunch of our friends and family; we're expecting between 20 and 22 people total. He has a maaaaaajor grill, so I think he can handle it.

We're keeping it pretty simple. Homemade hummus and two types of salsas with tortilla chips, grilled pita bread, and crudites for appetizers, and some mixed cocktails, beers, and wine throughout the night. Then with the burgers we're doing grilled sweet white corn with fresh herbs and butter, Smitten Kitchen Horseradish Potato Salad, my mom's bringing a broccoli salad of her own recipe that drives the crowd into a frenzy, a bowtie pasta salad from my best friend, and my fiance's sister is making another salad of some sort. (I'm hoping maybe a green?)

So with the burgers, we're doing all of the following:

Brioche buns
Toasted English muffins (trust me, this is delicious!)
Regular sesame seed buns
Caramelized onions
Red raw onion
Roasted red bell pepper (doing this tonight and storing them til Saturday!)
Butter lettuce
Baby greens
Avocado or guacamole (haven't decided yet)
Blue cheese crumbles
Extra spicy jack cheese
American cheese
Swiss cheese
Applewood bacon
Dijon mustard
Homemade spicy chili ketchup
Garlic aioli

Anything else we're forgetting?

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  1. Hello, fell insomniac - fancy meeting you here. :)

    I read your list and was like, whoa, they thought of everything! Then I re-skimmed and realized that if I were having an ultimate burger bar, I'd add a few key items:

    - Button mushrooms sauteed in butter, maybe with a little parsley on top. YUM.
    - Mozzarella and fresh basil. My favorite burger ever includes those two items and roasted bell pepper, and not much else.
    - Barbecue sauce.

    If I bring a salad, can *I* come?!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jadore

      Definitely agree with mushrooms - grilled portobellos work well and can sub for the meat if there is anyone who doesn't want beef and if there is enough grill space.

      I would also grab some relish.

      1. re: JRSD

        I agree with the sautéed mushrooms, or a red wine w/ mushroom reduction

        You also need;
        kosher or garlic dill pickle slices
        pickled pepper slices
        radioactive green Chicago-style relish

    2. BTW? Thank you for that list of SK recipes you shot my way! I'm making the lamb chops and olive tapenade tonight! I saw some gorgeous ones at Costco and thought of Deb, and you. :)

      1. Assuming that ground beef is the burger meat, then my sole suggestion would be chiles. Perhaps, roasted Anaheim, New Mexico, or Poblano chiles chopped into almost a paste? Otherwise, sliced fresh or pickled jalepenos might give your bar an edge.

        1. We're keeping it pretty simple.

          That's pretty funny.......I would agree with the others and include in addition to the regular roasted red peppers, some peppers with heat, i.e., Plabano, Long Hots or Jalapenos . You can take the latter three and make a relish......this could also double as a salsa for the appetizers.

          Last, Horseradish Mayo.....and what...no hot dogs or sausage?

          1. Personally, I'd add -

            Claussen Hearty Garlic Pickles
            Deviled eggs

            And since you probably have a bottle in the fridge already .... worcestershire sauce

            2 Replies
            1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

              I'd 2nd the deviled eggs and maybe add a macaroni & shrimp salad for any non carnivores in the group. Sounds like a great party in the making!

              1. re: Bryan Pepperseed

                +1 on all three - my preference would be regular dill pickles or hamburger dill chips. How about some thinly sliced ham. Love that on a burger!

              2. I agree with the poster about pickles, slaw and deviled eggs!!!! You have plenty, it sounds like a great party.. Maybe some jalapenos!!

                1. Wow, that's some list. Like a few others I'd say pickled jalapenos or pepperoncini. I'll bring the beer...what time?

                  1. Another poster mentioned this, but I was screaming in my own head "where are pickles?"

                    Also, No hot dogs? Gotta have hot dogs so you can eat something while you're waiting for your burger to get off the grill. Then of course you need kraut and onions.

                    What about getting a little fancy. Maybe some turkey burgers with grilled granny smith apples and brie? Or go Greek with some lamb burger with tsatziki or feta served in a pita.
                    Go a little Moroccan and season them with tumeric and cumin and serve with some hummus. Or look out for the vegans and do a portabella with sundried tomatoes and avocado slices.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jhopp217

                      Ohhh, I LOVE lamb burgers - the Greek girl in me is just salivating over the thought. Yum! Unfortunately, we're serving 25 people and my fiance is panicked, so we're just going to whip up identical beef patties and offer a dizzying array of toppings instead. Loooove your ideas though - if you throw a bbq, I am so there! ;D

                      And you're right, we're going to get sausages, or maybe hot dogs and serve those up, thanks for the reminder. Also, I'm going to steal the granny smith and brie idea and serve those with crackers instead of turkey burgers. Brie is awesome, I don't know why I didn't think to serve it before.

                    2. Bread and butter pickle chips and some Polish wursts, with hearty mustard.

                      Oh, and blue cheese IN some of the burgers, with more cheese -- Gouda, Cheddar, Beemster -- on top!

                      Outstanding menu, burgers are my favorite.

                      1. Pimento cheese- I had it on a burger last month and it's awesome on a burger!

                        1. Maybe a pot of chili or Michigan sauce....


                          Often put on dogs, but also great on a burger!

                          Also, mango chutney is a tasty topping!

                          1. Don't forget the special sauce:

                            Big Mac Special Sauce

                            1/4 cup KRAFT Miracle Whip
                            1/4 cup mayonnaise
                            2 tablespoons, heaping, WISHBONE deluxe French salad dressing (the orange stuff)
                            1/2 tablespoon HEINZ sweet relish
                            2 teaspoons, heaping, VLASIC dill pickle relish (Heinz dill relish also works)
                            1 teaspoon sugar
                            1 teaspoon dried, minced onion
                            1 teaspoon white vinegar
                            1 teaspoon ketchup
                            1/8 teaspoon salt

                            Mix everything very well in a small container. There better be no streaks! Microwave 25 seconds, and stir well again. Cover, and refrigerate at LEAST 1 hour before using. (to allow all of the flavors to "meld") Makes nearly 1 cup… enough for about 8 Big Macs™.

                            From: http://www.scribd.com/doc/230587/McMe...

                            1. "Anything else we're forgetting?"

                              You forgot to post your address. There are about 25 CH's who are packing now & will be at your door shortly!!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: PattiCakes

                                I swear, I'm going to host a CH party for you all at the end of the summer, and it'll be FABULOUS!

                              2. Someone upthread mentioned buying olive tapenade for their own dinner. I love sliced green olives on burgers. It's a briny little 'mmmm' that contrasts so well with the beef and the cheese.

                                1. I've done a burger bar before, and I think you've pretty much thought of all the good stuff! I would add a veggie burger to the burger selection. Chicken or turkey burgers are great, but it may end up being more work than you planned on? I love a cheeseburger with swiss cheese and mushrooms and a little bit of chipotle mayo. Maybe you could offer chipotles in adobo sauce and mix a few teaspoons of the sauce into the mayo to make chipotle mayo.
                                  When I had the burger bar, I had several options, an 'american' burger, a moroccan lamb burger, a greek chicken burger and a veggie burger from Guy Fieri's page on the food network. All the fixings were arranged around the burger they 'went' with. Of course, some guest will always come up with a request you haven't thought of! I think I will add a shrimp burger to my next gig!
                                  You mentioned a broccoli salad...does it have raisins and red onions in it? I've tried that salad several times, and it is soooo hit or miss for me. I like the idea of a horseradish potato salad...i think i will try that this weekend.
                                  Good luck with your party!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ChrissyMc

                                    It's my mom's broccoli salad, and I promise you, it's a 150% crowd pleaser! It does have raisins and red onions, but it also has shredded cheddar, crispy thick bacon, creamy sweet, slightly tart dressing... OMG, it's nothing like a salad after it's been sitting in the fridge IN the dressing for a while. It doesn't get soggy, it gets better and better. It's not even a salad, it's like candied pork with a side of crunchy broccoli.

                                  2. Can I just say you guys are AWESOME and I'm seriously printing out this entire thread and taking it with me to go shop when my fiance picks me up in a bit? THANK YOU SO MUCH!

                                    Also, yeah, we're going to maybe get chorizo or chicken apple sausages or something else to grill and serve. We don't like deviled eggs, so, sorry, we're not going to whip up a batch of those, much to my father's dismay!

                                    We just found out 3 more people are coming, so we're having a whopping 25 person party! :-O In the name of 'keeping it simple' (lol, I know, this is nothing but), we're just doing a well-seasoned all-American beef burger. So we'll stock up on peppers, mushrooms, relish, more sauces and condiments, the pickles, and so much more. Hopefully between these awesome suggestions and the list we already had, we'll still offer enough variety to make our guests happy.

                                    Thank you everyone! And I promise, you're all invited to the next burger party! ;D

                                    1. Diced kimchi to top the burgers.

                                      1. Grilled pineapple slices! They taste fantastic and are very easy to prepare - just get a whole pineapple already cored, slice it and throw it on the grill for 5 minutes.

                                        1. everyone's already much made my recs, and i think you're at the store now, but just in case...

                                          i echo the mushrooms and pickles.

                                          also, sauce -wise, perhaps Thousand Island Dressing and Sriracha (someone requested this at a mem day bbq, and when the host brought it out, the guests proceeded to pass it around).

                                          and i know you're serving butter lettuce, but i'd suggest putting out some large lettuce leaves for guests that may not want to indulge in buns for dietary reasons or allergenic reasons... then they can do lettuce wraps.

                                          i'd also consider some fresh herbs, but again, that may just be me... parsley, basil, etc.

                                          1. Just wanted to say that thanks to all the suggestions, my fiance and I put on a KILLER party on Saturday night, for 27 (!!!!) people total. We actually ended up changing the menu and making it all a bit swankier than we'd originally planned, at least, until we got to dessert.


                                            We served brie and this cherry mango salsa I found a recipe to online with crostini, champagne grapes, delectable grilled prawn skewers with a very citrusy, spicy cocktail sauce, and hot grilled apple chicken sausages cut into rounds served with two types of mustard.

                                            Then we made beef burgers and offered up a much improved upon array of condiments and toppings (thanks Chow!):

                                            - Brioche
                                            - Sesame seed buns
                                            - Olive buns (huge hit, wish we'd bought more of these)
                                            - Spicy Jack cheese
                                            - Cheddar
                                            - Blue
                                            - Mozzarella
                                            - Fresh basil leaves (thanks Jadore, everyone went crazy for your idea!)
                                            - Beefsteak tomato slices
                                            - Sweet raw Vidalia onion slices
                                            - Caramelized onion
                                            - Sauteed mushrooms in red wine (thanks for the suggestion, Kelli2006!)
                                            - Teriyaki sauce
                                            - Grilled pineapple rings (SeoulQueen, I didn't see your post until after, but luckily my fiance thought of this on his own - great minds!)
                                            - Fresh guacamole (also a huge crowd pleaser!)
                                            - Roasted red bell pepper
                                            - Applewood bacon
                                            - Jalapenos
                                            - Hot sauce
                                            - Homemade smoky coffee barbecue sauce (SO DELICIOUS!)
                                            - Heinz
                                            - French's
                                            - More dijon mustard
                                            - Spicy chili ketchup
                                            - Pickles
                                            - Relish
                                            - Homemade mayo (we skipped the garlic aioli in favor of this, and it was a brilliant decision. 6 different people told me they'd never had homemade mayonnaise before, and all their minds seemed to be blown!)
                                            - Huge lettuce leaves

                                            Then we had even more salads than originally expected:
                                            - my mom's DIVINE broccoli/bacon/red onion/cheese/crack cocaine (kidding! it's really that good, swear)
                                            - the best friend's bowtie with goat cheese and toasted pine nuts
                                            - my SK horseradish potato salad with blue and Yukon gold spuds
                                            - future sister in law brought a Greek salad with cucumber, kalamata olives, feta, and tomatoes from her garden, which were stellar
                                            - fiance's best friend's wife brought over a yummy tabbouleh with grilled veggies
                                            - another friend brought a fresh fruit salad that was really excellent

                                            We did grilled white corn with herbed butter, but a little less than half of it never got eaten due to the salad overload. (Guess what we had for dinner yesterday, and again tonight!)

                                            And then we had a huge Costco sheet cake, because the food snob in me shuts up when I taste their buttercream roses, along with rainbow (raspberry-orange-lime!) sherbert, because my fiance and I are apparently twelve and we don't care if our 27 (OMG I can't get over it still) guests know it. (It tastes soooo good though, stop laughing!) But we polished it all of with copious amounts of cocktails, beer, and wine, so I doubt anyone noticed. :D

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Glam Foodie

                                              Sounds amazing. Congrats on what sounds like a very successful burger bash!

                                              1. re: Glam Foodie

                                                Amazing. Why, oh why didn't you invite the rest of us CH's? We would of been there in a hot minute. Congrats on your success. You deserve it.

                                              2. Red onion confit. I made a batch with 2½lbs of onion but I think I am going to have to double it. 2½lbs only made a pint--not enough for a crowd.