Previously: Bodacious BBQ Sides and Perfect Picnic Pass-Arounds – Part 1
My next Party-Planning Tip doesn’t even deserve its own number, it’s really a continuation of #1. Make ahead, even just a little bit helps. Thinking specifically about the proteins here. Sure, it’s fun to live-grill your party (which almost becomes a group activity) + awesome aromas, but depending on the size of your gathering there can be drawbacks to cooking the meal in front of your guests while fulfilling all the other hosting and cooking duties. For one, your guests don’t receive your full attention and two, did you see the part about all the other hosting and cooking duties?!
So for our dinner party on the 4th we planned the cooking time so that the smoked ribs and grilled chicken would be done shortly before the guests arrived, and wrapped them tightly to keep warm-ish. For the ribs, we sliced the racks, doused them with sauce, packed them into covered aluminum pans and stuck them back in the still-smoldering smokers until serving time. But the messy part was over and done before our guests arrived.
- First of all, brine the chicken in advance. I do it the night before and in the morning pat the chicken dry and keep it chilled until ready to grill.
- Grill using a combination of direct heat to sear, then indirect heat to finish cooking the chicken.
- Bathe the warm chicken in a zesty vinaigrette until serving time. Cover and chill if it will be a while but bring back to room temperature before serving. Or heat gently in a warming drawer or low temperature oven for a few minutes.
Especially delicious were Pamela’s Caesar Salad (she uses her mom’s recipe – wow, thanks Rachel!) and Ellyn’s Smoky Baked Beans. (It’s pretty amusing that the linked recipe for the beans says Category: Vegetarian, but then the first ingredient listed is bacon. You can omit it and the beans will still be delicious, but the bacon surely does add a lot of flavor.)
Stay tuned for another party post coming soon with all the details for Ilise’s Magical Smoked Ribs.