Even though I graduated from college six years ago, I still get the end-of-Summer blues every August. There's only one remedy to this sickness: I turn my energy toward hosting a spectacular barbecue. If you experience the same low, consider throwing a barbecue this weekend or over Labor Day.
This menu consists of a smorgasbord of grilled foods starting with grilled jumbo shrimp doused in a thick shower of garlic-herb butter. For the main course, let guests assemble their own plates by choosing from an assortment of grilled meats (ribs, chicken, and sausages) and vegetables (onions and bell peppers). A strawberry, peach, and melon fruit salad gets a modern makeover thanks to a sweet yet spicy black pepper dressing. To serve these tasty items to your friends and family, get the recipes and read more.
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped basil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
16 jumbo shrimp in the shell, preferably with heads left on
Salt and freshly ground pepper
White rum, for sprinkling (optional)
- In a small saucepan, combine the butter with the parsley, basil, garlic and shallot and melt over low heat.
- Light a grill or heat a grill pan. Halve the shrimp lengthwise, leaving them attached 1 inch below the head. Devein the shrimp and spread them open. Season with salt and pepper, then brush liberally with the herb butter.
- Grill the shrimp over a medium-hot fire, shell side down, until lightly charred, about 1 minute. Turn and grill the other side until lightly browned, about 40 seconds. Turn the shrimp again.
- Brush them liberally with more herb butter, sprinkle with rum and grill until barely cooked through and bubbling, about 1 minute longer. Serve at once.
Cherry Cola Barbecue Sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 12-ounce bottles (ketchup-style) chili sauce
1 12- to 13-ounce jar cherry preserves or jam
1 cup cherry cola (regular, not diet)
1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon (or more) hot pepper sauce
2 tablespoons smoked paprika or hot smoked Spanish paprika*
2 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
2 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 13x9x2-inch disposable aluminum pan (to catch drips)
4 to 4 1/2 pounds baby back pork ribs, cut into 4 slabs
2 cups (or more) wood chips (cherry, alder, apple, or hickory), soaked in water 1 hour
4 6x31/4x2-inch disposable mini loaf pans (for wood chips if using gas grill)
Vegetable oil (for brushing)
4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves, pounded with mallet to 3/4-inch thickness
8 fully cooked smoked sausages (such as chicken-apple), pierced in several places with fork
- For barbecue sauce: Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until golden, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Stir in chili sauce, preserves, cherry cola, brown sugar, and vinegar; bring to simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer uncovered until reduced to 4 cups, stirring often to prevent scorching, about 50 minutes. Stir in 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more hot pepper sauce, if desired. Transfer to bowl and cool completely. Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
- For spice rub: Mix all ingredients in small bowl to blend. Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Store in airtight container at cool room temperature.
- For mixed grill: Remove top rack from grill. Place foil drip pan in center of bottom rack; fill halfway with water (if using 2-burner gas grill, place drip pan on 1 unlit burner).
- Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Sprinkle ribs with salt and 3 tablespoons spice rub. If using charcoal grill, light briquettes in chimney and pour half onto rack on each side of drip pan (you'll need to light more briquettes in chimney to replenish 1 or more times during grilling). If using 3-burner gas grill, light burners on left and right, leaving center burner off. If using 2-burner gas grill, light burner on side opposite drip pan.
- Drain wood chips. If using gas grill, stack 2 mini loaf pans and fill with 1 cup drained wood chips. Stack remaining 2 mini pans and fill with 1 cup drained wood chips. Place pans on flame. If using charcoal, scatter 2 cups drained chips over coals. Brush top grill rack with oil; return to barbecue.
- Place ribs on grill rack over drip pan. Cover barbecue; grill until meat is coming away from bones, turning and repositioning every 30 minutes and adding more wood chips to pans as needed, about 1 1/2 hours. Maintain barbecue temperature at 350°F, opening vents wider for more heat or partially closing for less heat. Transfer ribs to rimmed baking sheet; cool. Ribs can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Remove drip pan from barbecue.
- Lightly brush grill racks with oil. Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Sprinkle chicken with salt and remaining spice rub. Place chicken, sausages, and ribs on grill racks; cover and grill 7 minutes, turning occasionally.
- Brush ribs with 1 cup cherry cola sauce; cover and grill until chicken is cooked through and ribs are glazed, turning frequently, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer sausages to platter; transfer ribs and chicken to cutting board. Cut pork between bones; cut chicken crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide strips. Transfer to platter with sausages. Serve with remaining cherry cola sauce.
1 white onion, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 red onion, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 green bell pepper, cut into quarters and seeded
1 red bell pepper, cut into quarters and seeded
1 orange bell pepper, cut into quarters and seeded
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into quarters and seeded
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Soak wooden skewers 20 to 30 minutes. Heat a grill to medium.
- Skewer the white and red onion slices, passing the skewer through each layer; skewer the green, red, orange, and yellow peppers. Place the skewered vegetables, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl, and turn the vegetables until they are coated.
- Place vegetables on grill, and cook until lightly charred, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Transfer vegetables to a cutting board.
- Cut peppers into 1/2-inch-thick slices, and remove skewers from onions. Transfer vegetables to a serving platter.
2 bunches mint leaves
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon pepper
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 honeydew, cut into wedges
1 cantaloupe, cut into wedges
6 large peaches, sliced
4 cups strawberries, sliced
2 pints raspberries
- In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup water, half of the mint leaves, the sugar, vinegar and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and 4 teaspoons water. Stir into the saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes; strain.
- In a large bowl, toss the dressing with the honeydew, cantaloupe, peaches, strawberries and raspberries. Top with the remaining mint leaves.