Tuesday July 8, 2014
Gone are the days of Dad standing lonely in the backyard as he grills chicken, burgers and dogs on a gas or charcoal grill while the party-goers swim, play volleyball or yard darts (remember those?). Today's barbecues are full-day events that revolve around the cook and his craft, with
the food prep and grilling a highlight to the day's entertainment.
It may be our fascination with the Food Network, or it just may be a revolt by tenders of the barbecue who yearn to be involved in the day's festivities; either way, we're in love with outdoor kitchens and the new way we enjoy our summer barbecues.
A Group Effort
Food and outdoor games have always been the central theme of a barbecue, but that's where the similarities between now and then end. The way food is prepared at a barbecue is part of the entertainment and, thanks to spacious, full-service outdoor kitchens, food prep is a group effort. You may still have Aunt Betty bring that potato salad everyone loves, but chances are you'll find her exercising her legendary chopping skills, whether you asked for help or not, as you prep your meat, veggies and sides to be cooked on the grill, side burner or in the outdoor oven.
Better yet, cleanup is easy with built-in outdoor sinks!
No More In and Out of the House
How many times have you hosted a barbecue in your backyard for family and friends, and spent half the day running in and out of the house to prepare different stages of menu items, from sides to desserts and cocktails? Today's outdoor kitchens can be customized with every need, so you can keep it all outside on your patio. From refrigerators and ovens to electrical outlets for blenders and mixers (after all, what's a barbecue without a few frozen drinks?), and of course that handy sink!
An added bonus of this outdoor work area? Decreased foot traffic on your floors. Anyone who has had the pleasure of sweeping, vacuuming and mopping up after a barbecue should really appreciate this point!
Create your Unique Outdoor Kitchen
With all the outdoor cooking options available, like fire pits or even an outdoor fireplace that can live happily on your patio, there are multitudes of ways to create a unique outdoor kitchen that fits your style and cooking needs.
- Fire Pit: Versatile and small enough to fit on just about any patio space, a fire pit offers
a great grilling surface that can be stepped up with the addition of a cooking grate to accommodate everything from meats to marshmallows.
- Outdoor Pizza Oven: Want to offer a truly unique experience for your guests? With an outdoor pizza oven, you can have a creative and fun backyard barbecue with a make-your-own pizza bar full of toppings and sauces. Don't forget fixins for dessert pizzas!
- Outdoor Fireplace: Today's outdoor fireplaces can be customized with a plethora of cast veneer styles and colors to add a great centerpiece to your outdoor kitchen area. They can also be used as the place to make campfire favorites like campfire pies, foil-pack meals and s'mores.
Here's a great campfire-foil pack recipe from AllRecipes.com:
Campfire Foil Packs (Original recipe makes 4 packets)
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast meat - cubed
2 onions, diced
1 (8 ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
4 cloves garlic, sliced
4 small potatoes, cubed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
- In a large bowl, or a large zip-top bag, combine the chicken, onion, mushrooms, yellow pepper, red pepper, garlic, and potatoes. Pour in the olive oil and lemon juice, then mix well.
- Evenly divide the mixture between 4 large sheets of aluminum foil. Top each with another sheet of foil, and roll up the edges tightly. Wrap each packet again, securely in another sheet of foil to double wrap.
- Cook in the hot coals of a campfire (or outdoor fireplace) until the chicken is opaque and the potatoes are tender, around 40 minutes.
So, take your next barbecue up a notch. Add outdoor kitchen elements like fire pits, outdoor fireplaces and pizza ovens to your patio space and make cooking the center of attention at your next party. You will enjoy the event as much or more than your guests!