Cooking over an open fire is a staple of warm-weather entertaining. Tossing some steaks or vegetables on the grill for a family dinner is usually an easy undertaking. But even the craftiest grill cooks may need to apply some tricks of the trade when grilling food for the masses.
• Cook a large piece of meat. Rather than individual burgers or chicken wings, think about barbecuing an entire pig or a roast. In many cases, the meat can be set up on the barbecue early in the morning. By the time the evening arrives, the meat should be tender and cooked through. With just occasional checking, turning and basting, this may be the most low-maintenance option when feeding a crowd.
• Rent or borrow a second grill. Unless you are working with industrial-sized or commercial equipment, a standard grill may not have enough surface area to cook a lot of food at once. Find a friend or family member who is willing to lend you his or her grill. Having twice the room means you can cook twice the amount of food. You also may be able to rent a larger grill for an event.
• Precook the food. You can put bratwurst, hot dogs or burgers on the grill to partially cook them before the party, then store them in aluminum pans. When guests arrive, simply reheat the food to the right temperature and they’ll be hot and ready in no time.
• Make steak sandwiches. Make the food go further with less work by cooking ribeye steaks or flank steaks on the grill. Slice up the meat and serve it over garlic bread with melted jack or mozzarella cheese. The result will be savory, and such sandwiches don’t take much time to create.
• Opt for pulled pork. Start the basics of pulled pork in a slow cooker so that the meat cooks for several hours under low heat. If you have a smoker, you can opt to use that, but smokers may take longer to cook the meat and require more maintenance. If you opt for the slow cooker, transfer the meat to an aluminum pan when it is nearly done and put it on the grill to impart that smoky flavor. Add more seasonings to the meat and keep it warm until guests are ready to dine.
• Go with hot dogs. Hot dogs are usually precooked and will heat up quickly on the grill. Their small size means they don’t take up much space, and several can fit on the grill at one time.
Grilling for a crowd is easier when you plan with foods that are precooked or heat up quickly. This way you can enjoy more time with your guests.