May is National Barbecue Month, and we at Artizone are more than ready to get the party started. Is there anything better than cooking outside? As the weather warms up, you don’t have to worry about heating up your house when you move your meal prep outdoors. Plus, there’s just something primordial about cooking over a fire. Why not make a party of it?
But there’s more to a great cookout than just throwing another burger on the grill. Here are some Artizone-approved tips for planning the perfect cookout.
First, think about entertainment. We know you’re here to talk food, but hear us out: A few fun lawn games such as badminton or bocce ball will help your guests work up an appetite, which will make them even more appreciative of the spread you’ve got planned for them. If it’s a kid-friendly cookout, you can’t go wrong with some Super Soakers or water balloons. Just be sure to warn parents ahead of time so they can bring extra clothes for their little ones, and be sure to have plenty of towels on hand.
Set the mood. Sure, paper plates and Solo cups will get the job done, but presentation really makes the experience. Festive melamine plates are a step up from disposable dishes, but it won’t be a tragedy if one gets broken. Be sure to have good lighting for when it starts to get dark, such as tiki torches, fun lanterns, festive Christmas lights and a few Citronella candles to keep mosquitos at bay.
Think outside the bun. Burgers, brats and hots are great, but they also can be a bit—dare we say it—basic. These days, anything goes when it comes to grilling. For example, you might take inspiration from National Mediterranean Food Month and grill up some fish and kebobs. Can’t quit the burger? Mix a little feta, spinach, green onion, basil and oregano into the ground beef for Greek-inspired sliders.
Top if off. Good toppings also are an easy way to elevate an entree. Set up a selection of nice cheeses, plain and flavored mayonnaises, gourmet mustards, flavorful relishes and chutneys and veggies such as tomatoes, onions, avocados, peppers and cucumbers.
Picking sides. Side dishes are crucial to rounding out a meal. Watermelon, sweet corn, various salads, baked beans and chips and salsa are classic barbecue accompaniments.
And at Artizone, we have no shortage of artisans who have just what it takes to make your next barbecue.
If you’re in Dallas, try Luscher’s Post Oak Red Hots, Hirsch’s Specialty Meats and Holy Cow Beef for your meats; Big Al’s Texas Rubs, Bentley’s Batch 5 Barbecue Sauces and Daddy Rex’s BBQ Sauce for rubs and marinades; Josie’s Gourmet Potato and Pasta Dressings and The Festive Kitchen for sides; and Dallas Fine Wine & Spirits Shop and Green Grocer for beverages, including local craft beers.
In Chicago, meanwhile, you’ll want to check out Big Fork Brands, Buedel Fine Meats & Provisions, Gepperth’s Meat Market, Red Meat Market and Paulina Market for meats; Green Grocer for sides; Big Bang Pie Shop and Auntie Vee’s Cupcakes and Desserts for desserts; and Bodega Ramos and Green Grocer for drinks.