Outdoor Party Ideas

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It's outdoor party season, and chances are, you'll either host or be invited to at least one big party this summer. Depending on where you live, that could mean very different menu items. While most folks invite friends and family over "for a barbeque", the term is used rather loosely. The word barbeque most likely derives from the Caribbean word barbacao, meaning "sacred fire pit".

Pronounced bar-bah-COH-ah, this method is ideal for cooking larger cuts of meat. This is the preferred method in the Southern states where enthusiastic teams and Pitmasters battle it out for large prizes and bragging rights.

Typically, large cuts of either lamb or pork are used. This approach uses the low-and-slow cooking method (lower temperatures for a prolonged period of time) resulting in tender and flavorful meat. While grilling uses direct heat to cook, true barbequed food is cooked using a fire pit, banana leafs, and hot coals or wood. The meat is seasoned and wrapped in either banana leafs or wet paper and placed directly into the fire pit. Cooking times can be as long as 8 hours. Covered with dirt and left to smoke, the lower 200 degree temperatures slowly cook the meat until it breaks down and "falls off the bone". Often referred to as "pulled", the meat appears shredded and is most often served on rolls or in a tortilla.

Grilling, on the other hand, uses direct heat method. With temperatures up to 800 degrees and with the meat coming into direct contact with the flame, grilling sears in juices in meats such as steak, chicken, and hamburgers. Really just a matter of taste, everyone has their favorite rub, sauce or marinade when it comes to grilling or barbequing.

Secret ingredients have been known to include, cola, molasses, horse radish, pickle juice, raspberry preserves, applesauce and liquid smoke; just to name a few. Vegetables are ideal for grilling since they are quick to cook and their natural sugar content caramelizes in contact with higher temperatures.

Grilling corn is easy and delicious. Just peel back the husk, remove the silk, and add a dollop of butter and some salt and pepper. Close the husks back up and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. These only take about 30 barbecueminutes and can go right from the grill to the plate. Even desserts can be made on the grill. Pineapples, peaches, apples and bananas are all quick and easy. (Make sure your grill area is clean and well oiled.) Served with a scoop ice cream and drizzled with a flavorful liqueur, grilled fruit makes an easy and impressive dessert item.

When you are planning your next outdoor party, consider hosting a barbeque. Although it does take longer, once the meat is in your fire pit, it spares you the hassle of standing over a grill during party hours. This leaves you free to interact with guests and enjoy yourself.