Welcome back! In this post from the Enck’s Plus Catering Blog we are going to be talking about the cookout. While Enck’s is known for catering cookouts and picnics of all shapes and sizes and for being the BBQ caterer extraordinaire with our portable tow behind BBQ smoker "Hogzilla," we love to share about DIY and at home versions of what we do on the commercial catering side of things. So, in this post we will discuss the various cookout cooking methods and grills. Additionally, we will discuss the various foods commonly prepared and shared at a cookout.
Grills and cooking methods
The first thing that pops into my mind when I think about having a cookout is what kind of grill and I going to use? Well, if I already own one then I'm likely going to use that one or whatever grill is available at the location of the cookout. But let's say I'm a new to the grilling game and I'm buying my first grill. So, do I go Charcoal or gas? This decision should be guided firstly by what kind of flavor experience am I shooting for? If you have ever eaten foods off gas or charcoal grills, then you likely remember the tremendous difference in the flavor of the food prepared. If you want a rich smokey seasoned meat with a vast array of fuel additives(woods) that impact flavor, then you are likely wanting a charcoal grill. Charcoal grills require more experience in how to cook without burning the food by creating an even or controlled heat source through how the bed of charcoal is spread in the bottom of the grill. If you are looking for an easy to operate cooking platform similar to what you might have in a kitchen, then gas is the way to go. With the ease of the gas grill, you lose the ability to add the array of flavors that charcoal grilling offers.
Of course, your budget could play a major impact on which direction you go as well. According to Taste of Home: Your typical charcoal grill will have a starting price range of $25-$150 while your typical gas grills start out at around $150-$300. Charcoal vs. Gas Grills: Here's What You Need to Know (tasteofhome.com) These prices go upward of course as you approach some of the higher end manufacturers, brands and specialties.
Now enough about the grills, let’s talk about the food! Just about every cookout I have ever been to has some staple grilled foods. These include burgers, hot dogs, sausage, chicken, corn on the cob, and green beans. Hotdogs, being my favorite food, come in many styles: Pork, All Beef, Angus Beef, Vegetarian, etc. Then you have burgers: boxed frozen angus bubba burgers, store bought freshly formed 80-20 patties and all sorts of at home secret recipe patty preparations with cheese, onions and spices. Sausage has equally as many options with a range from mild to HOT Italian sausages, kielbasas, bratwursts and those with cheeses, herbs and spices as well. Then of course there are the sides like macaroni salad or potato salad. Anyway, I thought it would be kind to share some easy to prepare recipes in case you’re looking for new ideas or just need something traditional to fill the spot on the table.
Burger Patty Recipe From:
The secret to incredibly juicy burger patties is the addition of crushed crackers or panko breadcrumbs to hold in the natural fat and juices.
We definitely recommend using crackers if you have them. Adding crushed crackers is an old-school method to add more flavor than plain breadcrumbs. Plus, it’s super handy for using up that package of crackers you’ve had sitting in the pantry for weeks.
Here is everything you need to make the best homemade hamburger patties:
Ground chuck – We prefer an 80 lean/20 fat ratio for the juiciest burgers.
Crushed crackers or Panko bread crumbs – The best binders for juicy hamburgers. (Could be gluten-free!)
Worcestershire sauce – Adds a deep beefy, smoky flavor.
Egg – To bind all of the ingredients together without drying.
Milk – The enzymes help to soften and tenderize the ground beef.
Seasonings: Salt, Garlic Powder, Onion powder, Pepper, or other spices of choice.
It’s helpful to save prep time and add lots of flavor to your patties by adding dried spices rather than fresh herbs to the hamburger mix. For instance, you can incorporate red pepper flakes for a spicier burger, a bit of cumin and chili powder for a Southwestern-inspired bite, or parsley and dill to create a Mediterranean taste.
Here’s how…First, set out a large mixing bowl and add in the ground beef, crushed crackers, egg, Worcestershire sauce, milk, and spices.
Use your hands to thoroughly combine until the mixture is very smooth.
Next, press the meat down in the bowl, into an even disk. Use a knife to cut and divide the hamburger patty mixture into 6 – 1/3 pound grill or skillet patties, or 12 thin griddle patties.
For thick patties: Grill or fry the patties for 3-4 minutes per side for a medium burger.
Potato Salad From:
5 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
6 hard-boiled large eggs, chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped sweet pickles
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 cup mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
Place potatoes in a large saucepan; add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook, uncovered, until tender, 10-15 minutes. Drain; refrigerate until cold. Add eggs, onions and pickles; toss well. Stir in mustard, celery seed and mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper; mix well. Refrigerate until serving.
It seems sometimes that no matter how hard you plan and prepare something just doesn’t go quite right. Either the grilling isn't up to snuff, or the potato salad didn't have the taste you were shooting for, or you forgot the utensils for your guests and have to make a mad dash to the store for this or more ice to keep your beverages cold for the guests. Depending on the number of guests at your cookout this whole deal can become an arduous task. Perhaps next time you’d rather be able to enjoy the experience with everyone else rather than being the grill master under pressure. In this case why not consider the convenience of letting Enck’s Plus Catering run your cookout, picnic or BBQ.
Thank you for reading. If you have any cookout favorite foods I didn't list or discuss, please give us a comment. We’d love to hear about it. Please show your support by liking, commenting on and sharing our blog posts. And please come back every week to see new editions discussing all things catering, cuisine and culture.