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Inexpensive yet interesting 4th of July for 10 people.

It looks like I will be hosting dinner for 10 on the 4th. I don't want to go with burgers/hot dogs and potato salad. (My preference would be more along the lines of grilled lamb and gratin potatoes but don't have the budget for that.) Only concern is one person does not eat onions but there is no need for a vegetarian option. Thinking maybe carnitas done on the grill somehow and enchiladas done in the oven. Any thoughts on an impressive feast--apps through dessert--on the cheap?

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  1. One of my go-to grill dishes to feed a nice handful of people on the cheap would be paella. If you have the pan (which is cheap), the rest of the ingredients are super cheap. The setup is easy (just have your ingredients chopped and ready), and the process and clean-up is easy (ONE PAN!)

    One of my other go-to ingredients would be something with pork shoulder/butt. Cochinita/puerco pibil is very cool, and can be done indirectly cooked on the grill. Marinate pork in a mix that consists of annato/achiote, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and sour/seville orange juice (or orange juice + lime mixture). Let the marinade sit overnight if possible. When ready to grill, set up for indirect cooking, wrap puerco in banana leaves and then with foil tightly, and let it go till it's ready... 4-8 hours. Serve over rice with some pickled red onions (using the sour orange juice), or, my favorite, on warm tortillas with drops of habanero sauce, and the red-onions.

    1. I love to grill chicken legs, and they are incredibly inexpensive. I can get a pack with five legs for about 2 or 3 dollars. I give them a nice spice rub, and then grill slowly so that the fat renders them juicy and the skin gets crisp. I glaze at the end. People love them, and you can tailor the flavor of the rubs and glaze to match any side dish theme you choose.

      1 Reply
      1. re: katecm

        I love grilled chicken legs. My thought would be a mixed grill with chicken legs and a variety of sausages, and grilled vegetables.... Frogmore stew can be budget friendly, too, and it's really fun to eat with a crowd of people. I've done it on the super cheap, too, because when people ask what they can bring, I say, a lb of shrimp and a side/dessert to pass......

      2. My favorite summer meal for a big group is grilled italian sausage, cut into big slices (1-2") and served on a big platter with grilled peppers and onions. For a starch, either grilled chunks of new potatoes (parboiled before grilling), steamed corn, a rice pilaf, or lots of crusty bread. Perhaps a simple caesar salad too - romaine, good quality croutons, and dressing with lots of garlic and anchovies.

        For a party app, I'd go simple with chips and homemade salsa. Dessert, fresh fruit. Watermelon, grilled peaches, something simple.

        1. My favorite inexpensive grilling cut is tri-tip. There are a number of ways you can go with it. Add BBQ sauce and then make sliders with King's Hawaiian mini buns, grill it with salt [pepper and lime and serve it in tacos, or season it with your favorite steak rub and slice it. With the tacos, make a whole mess of sliced onions and peppers on the grill and let people make their own tacos.

          1. What about something like a chicken souvlaki, tatsiki and naan? You can do a side salad or grilled vegetables, depending on your budget.

            http://allrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-...

            I love this naan made on the grill:

            http://allrecipes.com/recipe/naan/

            1. There is a great tradition in the southwestern US and northern Mexico called "discada:. You can buy a special cooking "pan" or use a wok. Here is one recipe: http://texascookin.blogspot.com/2008/... There are so many! You can also watch videos of the process on youtube. The idea is to add food in stages. The food is often eaten in tortillas with guacamole and/or salsa.

              1 Reply
              1. re: travelerjjm

                I like this idea a lot! Going to have to try it..

              2. Chicken legs and thighs are cheapest for me too. The one that gets rave reviews is peanut ginger chicken served with a fresh salsa made with cucumber, cilantro or parsley, oil, vinegar, and a stone fruit like mango, peach, nectarine, plum etc. Serve with rice. As a dessert meringue pies are cheapest and for an app you could do chilled buttermilk radish soup.The whole thing should be less than $25.

                1. If it will be outdoors in hot weather, I'd aim for a lighter meal and set up a DIY sandwich or wrap buffet, including some slaws and salads that can do dual duty as toppings and side salads. I have yet to try them, but have read raves or Costco's new "pretzel rolls", which are slider-sized. They have top-notch ciabatta rolls too. And their Roasted Garlic loaves cannot be beat. Only problem is that you have to slice them yourself at home, which adds prep time when it's a big group.

                  For dessert, though it's no longer original, people do like the flag cake, which is baked in a 9x13 pan. It's typically a white or yellow cake, but I'd use Duncan Hines red velvet cake mix, with raspberries rather than strawberries, and blackberries rather than blueberries, since they go a bit better with the chocolate flavor. Pipe the white stripes in cream cheese frosting instead of whipped cream.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: greygarious

                    Those pretzel rolls are really good. That's a great idea.

                  2. Lots of ideas here... I am also going to suggest chicken. Recently, I picked up packages of skin on, bone-in chicken breasts and leg quarters. They are perfect for grilling. We did them on the Weber, indirect heat. You have a ton of flavor variations, depending on your seasoning choice. Which you could pair with a variety of rice/bean/grain salads, fresh fruit, and bread.
                    I seasoned ours with rosemary, olive oil, lemon, pepper, and a bit of lemon pepper at the end of cooking. The skin was crisp and the meat fall off the bone tender. I paired it with spaghetti with a simple tomato sauce, topped with grated asiago. A side of sauteed zuchinni and mushrooms, garlic as well.

                    1. We have been hosting a July 4th party for the past few years and I make ribs. I buy them at Costco, in fact, I saw them last week for $2.99/lb. Maybe not authentic (and I don't want to start a debate!), but I cook them in the oven the day before the party using Alton Brown's recipe, cool, refrigerate and the next day I warm them in the oven and finish on the grill. This way I don't have to be standing in front of the grill the whole time.

                      http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...

                      This year my husband has been bugging me to make mexican corn with the cotija cheese, but I am improvising and making a mexican corn salad using the cotija cheese, lime juice, cayenne.

                      For appetizers, I am making this roasted garlic and carrot hummus. Have never made it before, but I think it sounds good. I will probably also make this pea dip with parmesan. This I have made several times and everyone loves it. Both will be served with pita chips.

                      http://doughingrogue.com/2011/09/28/m...

                      http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/08/din...

                      For dessert, we make these chipwiches every year and both kids and adults love them. Chewy Chips Ahoy cookies with ice cream and sprinkles. They can be made ahead of time.

                      http://www.flickr.com/photos/14526977...

                      1. Thank you for all your ideas. Just found out the party is being held elsewhere but will certainly keep these ideas for the next time.