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Ideas for a “non-challenging” BBQ


Duvel
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So ... we will have some distant neighbors over for a BBQ. Our kids like to play together and I offered to entertain, so we can have a relaxing evening and the kids enjoy the trampoline and some other entertaining activities, while at least the parents get some nice food ...

 

And this is where it gets complicated. After some digging I came to the conclusion that - well, how to put it right - they prefer their BBQ “unchallenging”. In terms of texture, in terms of flavor ...

 

The preferred meat is chicken breast, followed by fillet of pork (on a skewer). Maybe a fine (think bologna texture) sausage. Ketchup. Mustard.
 

In principle I could live with that, but ... actually I can’t. I know just like in the restaurant business it’s all about the satisfaction of the customer, but I really do not want to put either of the three options as the star of the show. I want excitement, I want fun preparing it and yet I want to have a glass of Yamazaki 12 at the end of the night and tell myself that I made them a nice dinner. I need some help from all of you !

 

What would be:

 

- texturewise appealing grillable protein (no “hard”, gritty, sinewy textures); all pretreatments incl. SV are ok ...

- an exciting treatment for those boring proteins mentioned above to make then more interesting ...

- what “comfort food” options can I serve on the side that are not salad.

 

Thanks in advance 🙏

 

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@DuvelMaybe crudités of common vegetables? Salmon instead of meat? Salmon Teriyaki? Something else Teriyaki? Grilled Chicken with choices of white and dark meat and a salsa or chimichurri on the side? A warm potato salad made with some pickles and the usual suspects? Any fresh English Peas around? Always a treat as far as I'm concerned, whether in Japanese potato salad or hot with butter and salt. I would be happy to come over for bland food, as long as you were cooking it.

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Duvel, how do you think they feel about fat? My neighbour created a fabulous dinner last weekend which included pork butt sliced into steaks. The large pieces of fat had been removed, and then the shoulder was cut into quite thin slices. The steaks were then put on a very hot grill. They were very juicy (read: remaining fat had melted). It was a surprising taste and a delicious one. And not at all spicy.

 

Do you want me to ask him for details about exactly what he did?

Edited by TdeV (log)
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Much as it goes against the grain I wouldn’t attempt to do anything even slightly exciting. They like what they like and it’s highly unlikely that you will change their minds. Exciting sauces, marinades etc. will likely strike them as just strange. Feed your desire to make good food by preparing stuff for your own family. If they have an adventurous bone in their body they will ask to try your food. Otherwise you risk spoiling their BBQ. That’s just my two cents. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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I think you can get quite creative with sauces people add themselves and sides, Leave a protein or two quite plain and then play creatively. Pork patties with some allium, black pepper and ginger, skewers with ground chicken and various spicings. I have found that the chicken breast crowd goes nuts over pounded boneless skinless chicken thighs. Korean marinade there maybe.  Striking a balance if you will. Good booze lubricates enjoyment experience ;) Plus kids on your trampoline will be ravenous. Sweets - maybe roasted marshmallows or even s'mores.

Edited by heidih (log)
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3 hours ago, Duvel said:

The preferred meat is chicken breast, followed by fillet of pork (on a skewer). Maybe a fine (think bologna texture) sausage.

 

I would just stick with this. Teriyaki sauce is almost always popular (marinated, little bit of char). Maybe some mandu as a side dish.

 

For your sausage, maybe sausage and peppers on rolls.

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I have to wonder if chicken breast and pork tenderloin might be their regular fare, but not the limits of their palates.    I.e., how they eat regularly for controlled calories and cholesterol, but might be willing, even excited, to splurge occasionally.    (I can only hope..)

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eGullet member #80.

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14 hours ago, Duvel said:

And this is where it gets complicated. After some digging I came to the conclusion that - well, how to put it right - they prefer their BBQ “unchallenging”. In terms of texture, in terms of flavor ...

 

You know, to be a little more serious here (though don't think I was kidding with the pizza suggestion), why not make stuff as you always make it?  From what I can see, there will be plenty of stuff for them to enjoy. It doesn't all have to be from the grill; a nice platter of cheeses and dry sausage. Some great sides. Some weird sides.  And nothing really wrong with pork on a skewer or chicken breast, especially with a great marinade and dipping sauce (satay? something yogurt based) to go along.  Throw in a skewer or two of thigh and collar.

 

Whatever you make may will most likely impress them if they're as boring unchallenged as your research exposed. We've come to worry too much about what others may think.  Have the yamazaki before starting to cook - and it'll all flow nicely.

 

 

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Years ago, when asked, I used to terrify friends who were planning dinner parties by sharing the list of foods husband didn't like.   I finally stopped doing this and told them to cook what they wanted.   And, you know?  He scarfed up whatever these excellent cooks created.   Often leading to requests for a new food or concept of a food.   

Succinctly, be yourself.  

Edited by Margaret Pilgrim (log)
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I feel like the chicken breast and the sausage give you some options here that will please both of you.

 

You didn't specify it had to be boneless or skinless chicken breast — so why not do a spatchcocked chicken, or a beer can chicken? Breasts for them, legs and thighs with crispy skin for you. I feel like a whole bird on a platter, surrounded with grilled vegetables and maybe even grilled fruit, always punches above its weight.

 

Likewise — their preferred sausage fits nicely into a mixed grill, with boring sausages for them and interesting ones for you and yours. Maybe they'll even try something new and like it.

 

The only thing I struggle with is the pork fillet — assuming it's the same as what we in the US would call pork loin, I really struggle to imagine it as a good grilling cut. Blink at the wrong moment and it's dry. 

 

One aside — I think your serving presentation really makes a big difference here. Pile everything that comes off the grill on an enormous platter or carving board and it'll look like a feast.

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Maybe get some whole chickens, separate out the legs / thighs but leave the breasts attached to the bone that way you can slow roast them on the bone then carve off the bone after resting.  How about doing something with Mortadella ? it doesn't get more fine textured than that! Cube and skewer, brush on some HP sauce (make your own mortadella if you want to go all out -actually not that hard!) 

 

Pork loin IDK I wouldn't do it if I couldn't do some kind of yogurt/onion/spices type marinade with it. I guess you could do it Cuban style (just google cuban pork loin) nothing challenging or spicy there, personally I prefer pork butt for this but it is common to do with the loin

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Would shrimp be acceptable?

 

brined shrimp, cooked on cedar planks and dressed with lemon and chive butter might be a nice bridge between boring plain food and something fun to make. They’re bloody tasty too. 

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First of all - thank you very much everyone for your input. It was a busy week, so I didn’t have the chance to reply in detail ...

 

I have come to the conclusion that sticking largely to what the guests would like in terms of basic proteins would be the best option - thanks for convincing me. At the end it is not my place to force them to like other things, but I could try to subtly convince them by offering a couple of choices close enough to their comfort zone. I really liked the idea of teriyaki some of you suggested; not maybe in the original sense of the word, but in a broader sense of grilled meats/veggies with a suitable glace. So actually kind of Kushiyaki. After going through the options again, I decided to do a Kushiyaki dinner, featuring the requested proteins and some veggies, and a couple of simple sides ... theme of the evening would be Robatayaki.

 

Thanks again for all your input - this is your dinner 🤗 I let you know how they liked it ...

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Thanks for the info on robatayaki (had never heard of it). If you have a griddle, you can also do teppanyaki (like Benihana). IME, people really love vegetables (e.g., mushrooms) cooked in butter on the griddle. Then you can serve a sesame-soy-type dipping sauce. Just an idea.

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Posted (edited)

And here we go - Kushiyaki Moriawase (or mixed grilled skewers) ...

 

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Mise ...

 

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In progress ... chicken, pork belly, sausages, bacon with tomato, shishito peppers, mushrooms, chicken wing, sweetcorn. Later shrimp , octopus and more meats.

 

9D826F38-8493-4EF2-A4A3-D55C07054933.thumb.jpeg.2888f0fb5b368044686a8b4a065b01e7.jpeg

 

Ready to eat (there were a couple more plates) ...

 

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Tsukune ...

 

BAC5CDB8-C5D6-43E0-923E-2C704732D9A0.thumb.jpeg.bf488e70e67a63965142b193c01503ac.jpeg

 

Some carbs ...

 

CD3D6E67-1574-4A93-B35E-07E32E42C164.thumb.jpeg.174d3cb2bfcaadf75547e514e66f1080.jpeg

 

79B0FFFB-9912-432C-98A7-13898AA39EFF.thumb.jpeg.b6e3d5082bfb721c04db73fa9b89d177.jpeg

 

Edamame ...

 

325F83A3-F6D4-4EA2-9295-D820555C5C42.thumb.jpeg.19aad468f951b7f30b54a6d67afd8f38.jpeg

 

Mixed pickles ...

 

4DE2A6B4-3E6D-47D1-B654-F89667C6E371.thumb.jpeg.3ca34299154bf17b6bef13140808face.jpeg

 

Soba in cold mentsuyu and a waxy egg ...

 

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A very happy kid, because he got his beloved octopus skewers !

 

8BED0F30-0E8B-4E11-94DA-30C644B1A9F9.thumb.jpeg.dca6b3ec4d257cc3fc910b9b67f87d59.jpeg
 

A good opportunity to break out the Tokkuri ... (plus some Dassai sake).

 

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And for dessert ...

 

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Did they like it ? Yes, definitely.
 

They demolished the plates. I was certain to have prepared too much, but there were few leftovers. It was as envisioned: “their” proteins, known flavors, yet in a unusual context - fun to prepare (for me) and fun to eat (for them and me). Win win ☺️

 

Edited by Duvel (log)
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@Duvel Congratulations! It is always satisfying to have your food "demolished" and you probably pried their minds open a good bit. Beautiful .Your son's delight in the food is as always  treat, and the guy reading the package - you are a food educator.

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12 minutes ago, Duvel said:

Did they like it ? Yes, definitely.

I’m not quite sure what you are saying. Did they “trespass” beyond their own proteins?

 

It all looks quite irresistible to me. 

Edited by Anna N
To make some sense (log)
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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Anna N said:

I’m not quite sure what you are saying. Did you say “trespass” beyond their own proteins?

 

It all looks quite irresistible to me. 


They got all the proteins requested (chicken breast, pork - ok belly instead of loin, fine sausage), but did not hesitate with shrimps, bacon/tomato or tsukune. So I’d say they ventured beyond their usual fare. Octopus was a bit of a stretch, but my son anyway inhaled the three skewers, so they probably didn’t had a chance ...

 

 

Edited by Duvel (log)
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9 minutes ago, Duvel said:


They got all the proteins requested (chicken breast, pork - ok belly instead of loin, fine sausage), but did not hesitate with shrimps, bacon/tomato or tsukune. So I’d say they ventured beyond their usual fare. Octopus was a bit of a stretch, but my son anyway inhaled the three skewers, so they probably didn’t had a chance ...

 

 

Excellent. Good to know. I think you earned your dessert. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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