Lets start with the main meat course. This Chintzy Chef cooks with chicken because it's the cheapest.
And dark meat is the best bargain. I can even get boneless and skinless chicken leg quarters on sale for around 99 cents per pound at my local Latin market. They also sell 10 pound bags of plain whole leg quarters for 49 cents per pound.
Use your favorite BBQ sauce for a traditional red, white and blue backyard poultry cookout. I just season cheap chicken pieces with salt and pepper and slather on the BBQ sauce. Before serving, slice into the thickest part of chicken piece to make sure the juices run clean - no pink or red is allowed!
Next to chicken, pork is one cheap protein and I like to smoke it. Smoking thick meaty Country-style Pork Ribs are my favorite. I boil the ribs until tender (you can also wrap them in foil and oven roast) then throw them on the grill for an hour of smoke. This is a tasty shortcut to traditional all-day smoking. My blogpost shows you how to smoke pork ribs 2 ways.
A Classic Potato Salad is my cool preferred side dish for grilled protein. I use a whole lotta mayo and boiled eggs, but it is easily vegan by leaving out eggs and using a tasty mayo substitute.
During BBQ offseason, on cold winter days, when I'm hunkered down in my bunker, like George Washington at Valley Forge, I Easy Bake Spare Ribs until the porcine flesh surrenders moist and tender. If you don't want to smoke ribs then this is a great way to go.
What makes America great is our mosaic of cultures, so why not get multi-culti and try my recipe for a Thai-style Chicken Satay with a Peanut Dipping Sauce. The Japanese version of grilled Shish Kabobs is called Yakatori. And the Japanese like to grill it all, even chicken livers. If that is too pungent for you it's okay to substitute liver with pieces of regular chicken fillets. Everything tastes better when served on a skewer.
Chicken Satay - ready for the grill.
Los Angeles has a bustling Koreatown and I have had the pleasure to try a few Korean BBQ joints. Enter and you are enveloped in smoke from the tabletop grills, loaded down with marinated beef and chicken. I have my own cheap$kate version of Korean BBQ you can make for your next backyard gathering.
It's all about the marinade that mainly consists of garlic, soy sauce, and brown sugar. It's a potent combination you should try out sometime. Just click here for my Korean-style BBQ Chicken recipe. The photo below shows grilled boneless and skinless dark meat leg quarters.
Beef hamburger is just too darn expensive for the Tightwad Cuisinier. But fortunately, Dollar Tree comes to the rescue with two quarter pound patties for a buck!
I feed my crumb catcher grilled hamburger slathered in BBQ sauce, sauteed mushrooms and melty cheese.
Here in Los Angeles we have a uniquely constructed wiener sold by sidewalk purveyors called the L.A. Street Dog. It's a crazy combination of sauteed onion and bell pepper that's strewn over a bacon wrapped wiener, then topped with mayo, mustard, ketchup, and finally crowned with a spicy jalapeño!
Allow me to introduce to you to a Currywurst, which is a sausage or hot dog that's grilled and topped with a spicy sauce consisting of ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce, cayenne pepper, and curry powder (dried cumin). This Berlin, Germany delicacy started just after WWII as street food for British and American soldiers stationed there. It sounds like a weird combination of ingredients, but it works and it's so easy to make, so give it a go - it makes a great appetizer served with toothpicks.
Another Eastern European entree is made with grilled Sausages, Sauerkraut and Beer. Now that's a combination I can get behind! Again, I cooked this dish on a stove top but you can cook the sausages over an open fire for extra charred flavor.
I like plain hot dogs with just relish and mustard. To add some veggie crunch, try my bastardized version of a Chicago Dog. I can't get dayglow green relish out here in LA so I tweaked the Windy City's fast food classic by adding some chopped lettuce along with traditional sliced tomato. Check out my wacky video below, where my Chicago Dog is the punchline.
Mexi-Turkey Burger. It packs a lot of flavor with the main ingredient, Mexican chorizo, which has a deep flavored red chile taste, spiced with paprika, Mexican oregano and garlic powder. And you can use regular ground beef instead of poultry. Get out the salsa for my Mexi-Burger.
Attention all you lovers of smoked pork, the following entree will have you asking for seconds and thirds. I like to smoke a whole pork shoulder when I throw a patio BBQ party.
If you have traveled the South then you've run across BBQ Pulled Pork. Mainly served between buns and topped with BBQ sauce, this crowd pleasing self-serve sandwich has it all: smokey tender pork that's seasoned with a dry rub of sugar and spice.
Pulled Pork Dry Rub
Click on photos to see larger.
Just set out a tub of Pulled Pork along with hamburger buns, BBQ sauce, sliced onion, pickles and Coleslaw, and get out of the way as the line forms. And I have an easy gas grill smoking method you can see in my video below.
Pork Carnitas are my favorite tacos. While not done on a BBQ grill it's still one of my go-to backyard holiday foods, so I gotta give you the recipe anyway. You can always give it a quick smoke pass to kick it up a notch. It really is the perfect party food because you sit back and let your friends build each taco their way. Go to the following blog post to see some tasty Homemade Salsas to serve with any tacos you like to make.
And pork is still cheap these days, especially when it comes on sale at my local Latin market. So you won't break the bank feeding your lovers of all things porcine.
I seldom cook with beef because it's just too darn expensive, but when I splurge it's for ribeye steak. I just season it with salt and pepper, that's it. Sometimes I'll finish it with a little BBQ sauce. But if you want to impress your guests then try out my Carne Asada recipe. Ribeye (or any favorite tender cut) is marinated in cilantro, green onion, garlic, lime juice and a little ground cumin. When done, chop the meat for Carne Asada Tacos or a Warm Steak Salad.
Carne Asada Marinade
Whew, I'm beat. Man, that's a lot of recipes...time for some Red, White and Brew!
And, long may it pour.
If you are smoking meat, then throw on a slab of corned beef brisket for Homemade Pastrami. I always freeze 2 or 3 corned beef briskets when they are on sale for less than 2 dollars per pound during St. Patrick's day.
Seafood and a BBQ grill go together. You have to have a delicate touch as fish is easy to overcook. But it's done quickly so you won't smell too smokey slaving over the grill.
Blackened Fish with Sweet Potato Hash
My nephew Zakk has put in his time as a line cook, and he gave me a Top Chef performance in his recipe video for Blackened Fish with Sweet Potato Hash. While he does his sauteing in the kitchen, you can grill the fish over an open flame, instead of the stove top.
I have a deep fried Fish Taco recipe that's easily adapted for outdoor grilling. Just leave off the batter and grill the fish for a lighter and healthier pescado. Check out my recipe for all the details, including a cool Creme Topping.
A bag of tortilla chips and a light Seafood Ceviche made with budget fake crab is a chill appetizer to greet the guests with.
For my vegetarian friends the following recipes are for you. My sister Denise has a fav veggie Eggplant Burger (and easy enough to BBQ instead of frying pan sauteing).
Portabella Mushroom Burger
A tasty meat substitution is an earthy Portabella Mushroom Burger that's topped with grilled bell pepper and cheese (or use a cheese substitute). Roast a few ears or corn to serve with the veggie burgers or go a little further and make my Roasted Cream Corn.
It's all about the veggie sides when you have a BBQ patio party, and boy do I have the recipe cherry (tomato) flavor bombs to prove it. You can simply drizzle a little olive oil and season any fave summer veggie to grill over an open flame.
Braised Romain Heart
A new favorite veggie to grill are Sweet Potatoes and Yams. They are the cherry bomb of tubers. Grill until soft and sweet with an extra charred flavor. I like to slice them thick to get a creamy soft interior.
Now you do have to watch closely as the high sugar content will cause them to burn easily. But a little blackening is fine.
Russet and Sweet Potatoes
Click on any recipe name to get my recipe details for: Russet and Sweet Potatoes, Yams, Grilled Bell Peppers, Zucchini with Herbs, and Braised Romain Hearts (originally done inside, but easy enough to do outside).
You gotta have Potato or Macaroni Salads when you grill meat. I have a colorful Peanut Coleslaw made with red cabbage. But a regular Coleslaw it good enough for me.
My Mom dropped by the cheap$kate kitchen and set off a flavor M80 bomb: Cajun Potato Salad. It was so good I had make a video to share her recipe with you.
Pack Mom's Cajun Potato Salad with my classic Chicken, Tuna, or Egg Salad for a holiday picnic to watch fireworks by.
The kernels pop with flavor, like a string of firecrackers, when you work your way around an ear of my Boiled Corn. And it goes with any type of picnic you pack. Click here to see how I do it.
While your guests await the main event, get them started with sparkling light salads such as: refreshing Watermelon, Mango and Spinach; hearty Black Bean & Corn ; an exotic, but simple, Korean-style Cucumber Salad; a tangy Cuban Salad, or luscious Pears & Spinach with Herb Cream.
Watermelon, Mango & Spinach Salad
If you are doing burgers, then you want fries to go with it, and my double-fried French Fries does the trick.
Vegetarian Red Beans recipe for you, and I have my own Beef & Bean Chili. And it's "Viva Revolution!" with my Cuban Black Beans recipe.
There is nothing better at stoking appetites than walking past the kitchen and inhaling the savory perfume of seasoned legumes slow cooking on the stove top.
And great grocery deals are happening this week, too. Steak, hamburger, chicken, corn, watermelon and hamburger buns are all on sale right now. Be sure to check out your local grocery fliers for all the holiday deals.
Independence Day is fast approaching, so create your own 4th of July menu using any of the Patriotic Chef's recipes above. I guarantee your guest will need to chase down the flavorful culinary fireworks you serve with iced tea and a lemon slice, a glass of chilled Chardonnay, and a frosty bottle of beer. Bring it on!