The best plan for the 4th: Let the flavor of fire do the heavy lifting and make everything ahead so you can join the fun.
June 09, 2015
1 of 9Photo: Jennifer Causey
Our Kind Of Party
Hosting a backyard grilling party always sounds like a load of fun … until you find yourself chained to the grill while everyone else enjoys the gathering.
This summer, try something a little different: a feast of grilled goodies that you've done ahead.
2 of 9Photo: Jennifer Causey
Applewood-Smoked Chicken with Dijon Rub
Our savory smoked chicken is equally delicious served cold or at room temperature, so you can cook it well in advance of your get-together. If you have leftovers, shred the meat and stir into leftover Kamut salad—instant lunch.
3 of 9Photo: Jennifer Causey
Whole-Grain Kamut and Cherry Salad
Juicy cherries and chewy whole grains are a match made in heaven. We also tried this salad with red grapes in place of cherries, and they were delicious, too. If you have a pressure cooker, put it to use for the Kamut; it'll cut the cook time down to 25 to 30 minutes.
4 of 9Photo: Jennifer Causey
Summer Herbed Grilled Shrimp
Our finishing touches—a hit of herbs, peppery olive oil, and tangy vinegar—make these shrimp the freshest, most irresistible appetizer. Leave the tails on so guests have a handle for these tasty bites.
5 of 9Photo: Jennifer Causey
Smoky Red Pepper Dip with Grilled Crudités
Step aside, boring crudités—enter deliciously crunchy, lightly charred fennel and broccoli paired with grilled bread and juicy tomatoes.
6 of 9Photo: Jennifer Causey
Grilled Baby Eggplants with Green Onion Salsa
If you can't find the type of eggplant we used, go for small, slender Japanese eggplants instead.
7 of 9Photo: Jennifer Causey
Simple Grilled Stone Fruit Crumble
We were wowed by the flavors of this luscious dessert. Grilling the fruit caramelizes its sugars and concentrates its flavor, while the creamy tang of crème fraîche perfectly complements the nutty, buttery topping.
8 of 9Photo: Jennifer Causey
The Game Plan
UP TO 2 DAYS AHEAD:
• Make dip.
• Combine herb mixture for shrimp (minus oil and vinegar).
• Prepare butter mixture for chicken.
• Cook Kamut for salad.
UP TO 1 DAY AHEAD:
• Grill crudités and bread for dip.
• Grill shrimp.
• Grill chicken.
• Layer Kamut salad ingredients in a bowl—dressing on bottom, then grains, then produce, then nuts. (Toss together shortly before serving.)
• Prepare fruit for desserts; spoon into jars or ramekins.
• Prepare topping for desserts; store separately.
THE MORNING OF THE PARTY:
• Grill eggplants.
2 HOURS AHEAD:
• Bring chicken to room temp.
• Make salsa for eggplants.
1 HOUR AHEAD:
• Toss shrimp with finished herb mixture.
• Set everything else (except desserts) out at room temperature.
30 MINUTES AHEAD:
• Assemble desserts.
9 of 9Photo: Jennifer Causey
Step Up Your Beer Game
This menu is all about laid-back fun, and the food is just right for beer. Any sudsy sipper will work, but if you really want to treat your guests, seek out these two brews.
Golden, fizzy, and burbling with spice, fruit, and floral flavors, this summery saison's lemony brightness complements veggies and seafood, while its earthy depth handles grains and meats.
($15/750-milliliter bottle or $19/four-pack of 12-ounce bottles)
MIRROR POND PALE ALE,
This beautifully balanced pale ale has flavors of forests and meadows, with a mild bitterness to gently offset flavors like herbs, peppers, and mustard.
($10/six-pack of 12-ounce bottles)