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1950s themed Barbecue Menu Ideas

I am looking for ideas for a barbecue with a 50s flair. Twists on the retro ideas are welcome as well. I am thinking of steak and chicken as the proteins right now but I am open to any ideas. Thanks!

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  1. The first thing that comes to mind is Cornell chicken. The pdf found at the following link not only has the recipe, but also has instructions on how to build your 1950's "fireplace" out of cinder blocks.


    Here's a video too.


    1. Polynesian was all the rage. Adding canned pineapple made chicken exotic and "sweet and sour". Dips, dunks, fussy canapes (deviled ham, anyone?) were also very popular. Vegetable casseroles with canned cream soups reigned supreme as well.OH! And Martinis!

      1 Reply
      1. Canned---not fresh---peach halves, cold, with cottage cheese on top and a maraschino cherry. The ne plus ultra of the Sophisticated Life.

        1. There is actually a Retro BBQ cookbook - http://www.amazon.com/Retro-Barbecue-...

          The used copies are under $5 and if you've got the time to do the order and wait for the book, it might be worth your while. If not, try your local library or bookstore to see if you can get a copy. I have the Retro Pie cookbook and it's very, very good. I've made a number of the pies in it and none have been a dud.

          1. I think your proteins are right on the money. If you play around with marinades and sauces, you can have some fun presenting the two meats two ways each; classic '50's style and something updated, like classic bbq sauce vs. a salsa baste or chimichurri for the chicken, and something likewise for the steaks. Otherwise, you could keep it super-classic to that era and serve chips w/ California dip and guacamole, deviled eggs and vegetable tray with black olives to start, with sides like potato salad, slaw, beans, rolls and butter etcetera. You might investigate the menu and methods for Santa Maria Barbeque, as a riff for the steak, also - absolutely delicious and the smallest bit out of the ordinary. And think maybe a teriyaki or ponzu marinade for the chicken as well, with a rice or noodle salad with veg. and almonds, and cold spinach tossed with sesame oil, rice vinegar and toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy your party; sounds like fun. Don't forget a really cool retro apron. It would be a fun theme party.

            7 Replies
            1. re: mamachef

              Unless OP happens to have or can get seasoned red oak wood, it ain't no Santa Maria BBQ.

              Drinks could be like these : Champagne Punch, Negronis, Sidecars, Pimms Cup, Sazarac, Grasshopper, Singapore Slings, Moscow Mules

              Apps can be: a ham mousse ring, of course, the deviled eggs are classic and rumaki and a jello mold or two

              Mains can be: tuna casserole, or the tuna ring, made w Bisquick, Veg All Pie Plate salad, original green bean casserole, meatloaf, salisbury steaks, or chicken chow mein, the OLD style with everything from a can.

              I'm sure you'll have fun finding dessert recipes. Sorry, the 50s are a tad before my time, so these links might help. Have fun, what a great idea!

              http://www.gourmet.com/recipes/1950s/... (go to bottom of page for 19502 link

              1. re: Phurstluv

                "tuna casserole, or the tuna ring, made w Bisquick, Veg All Pie Plate salad, original green bean casserole, meatloaf, salisbury steaks, or chicken chow mein, the OLD style with everything from a can."
                little tricky to BBQ?

                1. re: porker

                  Did they just want to BBQ the food?? Some people use the term "BBQ" to mean a "cook out" or any other outdoor get-together. Guess I didn't get that out of the post. Sorry, if that's the case, never mind (as RosanneRosanaDanna used to say!)

                  I just did a google search and found some cool recipes that I recognized, that's all I posted.

                  PS - you can bbq meatloaf, fyi

                  1. re: Phurstluv

                    Wasn't it around the post war era that BBQ started to be used as a synonym for cookout. Weber came out with their grill in 1951 or something. The back yard bbq was a cookout using a grill.

                    1. re: Phurstluv

                      You're right, you can bbq or grill just about anything. I made BBQ spaghetti awhile back.

                2. How about some actual 1950's BBQ recipes?

                  Barbecue Dishes for the Picnic - July 8, 1951

                  Spicy Barbecue - Mar 8, 1953

                  Barbecue Delights - Aug 24, 1957

                  Barbecued Meat Balls Are Delicious Appetizers - Jun 12, 1958

                  Chicken Barbecue Secrets Given - page 1 - Jun 17, 1958

                  Chicken Barbecue Secrets Given - page 2 - Jun 17, 1958

                  Marinade Sauce Spices Barbecue Food - Jun 26, 1958

                  Homemade Relishes Give Flavor to Barbecues - Jul 11, 1958

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Antilope

                    More 50's BBQ menus and recipes

                    Hawaiian Barbecue - Jun 25, 1959

                    Meals in package (foil) are good for a cookout on Fourth - Jun 30, 1955

                    Warm Weather means cooking outdoors - May 20, 1956

                    Grill Can Be a Labor Saver - Aug 21, 1958

                    Keep It Simple, Cookout Rule - Jul 18, 1957

                    Salute Two New States With Party Dinner Menu - Jul 31, 1959

                    Cookout for Labor Day Weekend - Aut 28, 1958

                    Entire Menu for Cookout can be stored in freezer - Jul 1, 1955

                    Family Weekly - Summer Drinks - Jul 12, 1959

                    Family Weekly - Grilled Meat Favorites - May 15, 1960

                  2. I like the terriyaki idear. Maybe plenty of skewers kinda like a do-it-yourself yakitori party.
                    My vote is sliced, grilled Spam - retro and actually quite good. Can be an app.

                    1. Wow, thank you for all the responses. That Cornell Chicken sounds awesome and I love the idea of the Santa Maria BBQ but it might be out of my access range. I loved the drink and app suggestions, too. Lots of reading and links to check out! Thanks again! :) I will update with my menu choices. It is for mid July so a bit of time but not tons. :)

                      1. Peach Dump Cake for dessert.


                        I have a reworked retro 50/60's dessert book that features this and I make it several times a summer. Good warm, but can be served room temp and even over ice cream. IIRC, it's a Betty Crocker side-of-the-cake-box or BC cookbook recipe from the late 50's or early 60's.

                        If your pryrex baking dish is not cleaned out by hungry friends in record time, i 'd be amazed.

                        It happens every time with mine.

                        5 ingredients. No muss no fuss no stirring. Open packages and dump. Add butter and fling in the oven. Done.