(BPT) - Mouthwatering meats, refreshing beverages, a relaxed atmosphere and great company — what better way to enjoy the beautiful weather than with your favorite folks at a summer barbecue? Did you know there are exactly 99 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day? This means you have 99 opportunities to host a memorable BBQ in your own backyard or at the family dinner table. And for busy families on the run, there are plenty of easy tips and hacks to save time and ensure your gathering is an all-around great time.
Follow these five simple tips to celebrate a season of BBQ with the ones you love.
Cut down on prep time with easy-to-make food options
If you want truly authentic-tasting BBQ, you can't speed up the slow-cook process. You can, however, let someone else do most of the work. Buying meat that’s already been cooked slow and low for hours cuts down on prep and cleaning time, while still letting you and your family and friends savor (and devour!) delicious BBQ. Check out the frozen aisle of your local grocery store for quality, pre-prepared products like Farm Rich Smokehouse BBQ, a line of hickory smoked, gluten-free BBQ in beef, pork and chicken dry rub and sauced varieties.
If you want to tackle the grill yourself, let “Dr. BBQ” help you out. E. Lee Wiley, Ph.D., Principal Scientist, Research and Development for Farm Rich Smokehouse BBQ in Gallatin, Tennessee, offers a few basic prep tips:
“Start with quality pork — Picnic Shoulders or Boston Butts — and rub the raw meat down with coarse salt and coarse ground black pepper to taste. Choose a wood type of your liking, such as hickory, mesquite, apple or alder. Slow cook and smoke the rubbed meat at 225 degrees for 6-8 hours depending on the meat’s thickness. For brisket, start with good, quality beef and don’t trim the fat before you smoke or cook, as this helps keep the meat moist. Inject a marinade into the meat before cooking, then cook at 225 degrees for 10-12 hours.”
Choose perfect pairings
Whether you make pulled pork or brisket sandwiches, pair meats with baked beans, use them in a salad, or let the BBQ stand alone, you can expect your main dish to be a huge hit among guests by following these tips.
When you have delicious BBQ pork, brisket or chicken, let that star shine. Only serve one or two complementary sides and one memorable summertime dessert to complete the meal. Libbie Summers, author of "The Whole Hog Cookbook," adds, "Backyard barbecues are meant to be casual, so make everything 'help yourself' from drinks to dessert. Also, don't offer a lot of different food choices — just make everything delicious!"
A chilled pasta salad and fresh grilled corn on the cob go well with BBQ and are simple to make. You could also let your guests customize sandwiches by putting out a few easy toppings such as coleslaw, fresh garden tomatoes, crispy breaded onion rings or even fried pickles!
For that special sweet ending, cookie ice cream sandwiches are a big summer hit and take no time to make. Just grab your favorite ice cream, soften it and place between home baked or pre-made cookies or wafers, and then put in the freezer until ready to eat.
Keep drinks simple
You don't have to buy several brands of soda or mix up fancy cocktails for thirsty guests. Just serve a fresh pitcher of homemade lemonade, toss in a few sprigs of fresh thyme and offer an “adult” version as well with your favorite libation. Also have a pitcher of cool water on hand (consider adding some fun refreshers like sliced strawberries and mint) to ensure everyone stays hydrated.
Add energy with a lively playlist
A music playlist is an easy way to turn your party up a notch, and it doesn't require you to spend a lot of money, if any at all. Select your favorite summer jams or reminisce on your glory days with nostalgic hits. You can even add a few festive songs, like Tim McGraw’s “Something Like That” and Memphis Minnie’s “Pig Meat On the Line,” to your playlist just for fun!
Keep kids (and adults!) entertained
It's easy to keep the kids distracted with a few activities and games on hand. Have a little plastic tub filled with kids’ water squirters or water balloons and allow some space in the backyard for play. (Keep towels on hand for drying off!) Fill a basket with other goodies like bubbles, jump ropes and sidewalk chalk, or set up or spray paint Twister on your lawn and put out a bean bag toss game. Another activity? Simply cut open a watermelon and let the seed spitting contest begin!
What are some of your favorite BBQ party hacks? Now through Labor Day, share your go-to BBQ meal ideas, recipes or photos on social media using the #99DaysofBBQ hashtag and tag @FarmRichSnacks for a chance to receive a year's worth of Smokehouse BBQ and a barbecue party pack for your next summer gathering.