Summer BBQ Trends
Trends go well beyond the fashion industry and cheap toys for Christmas — they're now seeping into your backyard barbecues. From canning to cocktails, there's always something new that you have to serve at your next barbeque. Here are the hot trends for this summer's cookouts.
Bacon has been around forever, but there's no question it's seeing a surge in popularity right now. The savory cut of the pig, shrouded in fat, can be found in just about any form: chocolate-dipped-bacon-wrapped-bananas, bacon-infused whiskey, bacon candles, even bacon-flavored lip balm. With all the hype, you can bet bacon will be regarded as a feature of barbecues and cookouts this summer...not just a burger topping. Assembling the Everything Bacon Burger might make your barbecue extra memorable.
While you're harvesting your herb bounty in the garden, throw some of the vegetables on the grill. Grilled vegetables might sound a little too healthy, but they're a delicious addition to the barbecue and they might offset any damage caused by the Everything Bacon Burger.
Working fresh cuttings from your garden into your next cookout is taking on a new twist with cocktail gardens. According to the Garden Media Group's 2014 Garden Trends Report, people are spending more time outside. That's no surprise after the rough winter, but it does mean people aren't just entertaining in their gardens; they're also entertaining with their gardens. Creating a cocktail garden enhances this idea. Add some fresh mint or basil from your garden to a guest's vodka soda while talking about how well the rosemary and cilantro are thriving...then add those ingredients to your chicken or salad. There are all kinds of ways to make the garden functional and fabulous.
DIY Condiments and Marinades
The more DIY creations you make in the kitchen, the more credibility you'll have at the grill — and what you make doesn't have to be that difficult. Spicy mayonnaise? Clean and dice a jalapeno, throw it in a blender, add two cups of mayonnaise and pulse. Greek-style chicken marinade? Mix together lemon juice, olive oil, and red wine vinegar with salt and pepper and whisk. There are thousands of combinations that will dazzle guests at your next cookout. The only requirement for a successful DIY condiment is you like food.
DIY Pickling & Canning
Don't worry about not being able to eat the overabundance of garden vegetables right now — just pickle or can them. The vegetables you can pack away in a mason jar to save for later give you a healthy supply of servings at your next barbecue. The recipes are easy and can be found in just about all cookbooks. And guests give bonus points to those who pickle veggies from their own garden!
Exotic Fare: Octopus
It's not nearly as popular as bacon, but the more exotic grilled octopus is making its way up the ranks on the cookout menu. It's a lean seafood popular in Japan and in Mediterranean countries. Because it's low in fat and goes well with citrus flavors, it makes a great light summer fare. But preparing octopus isn't as simple as throwing it over an open flame. When octopus is grilled, it's crunchy and tender; but because octopus contains so much water, it has to be braised or boiled before grilling. The work is worth it, especially if you want to impress your friends.
There's always room to spice up a summer barbecue. But you don't have to be on the cutting edge of barbecue trends to pull off a great cookout. Throwing chicken and burgers on a grill with a side of pasta salad or grilled vegetables will make anyone happy.
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