Whether it’s a small gathering of family members or an invitation extended to friends and neighbors, entertaining and adding elegance to grilling can take on a delightfully casual approach when it’s done outdoors. It’s also just plain fun.
Add instant sophistication to a casual atmosphere with these entertaining and grilling tips guaranteed to impress every guest.
Be Courteous to Your Guests
This should be obvious but let’s just reiterate some friendly etiquette to be on the safe side.
Be sure to note any food restrictions or allergies and prepare alternate options. There’s nothing worse than having a guest go into an allergic reaction while on your watch! If you are unable to ask prior to your grilling event, bring it up in conversation as soon as possible.
Prepare ahead. I cannot stress this enough. Cut meats and vegetables, set the table, and toss the salad before the guests arrive. This will give you more time to relax and enjoy your company.
Create an Ambiance
White dinnerware always looks appropriate and pairs nicely with casual double-duty prep and serving pieces, such as rustic wood cutting boards like this one from Virginia Boys Walnut Wood Cutting Boards for an outdoor meal.
Add instant elegance to your casual get-together with flowers as well. Just trim a few stems from the garden and arrange them in glasses or bowls.
Offer a few different bottles of wine at the table for a great conversation starter. The best wines to serve are ones that pair well with all types of food and do not require additional aging once purchased. For example, Rioja, one of Spain’s oldest and most renowned wines, includes reds, whites and rose at all price ranges, aged to be ready to drink at purchase and complement meat, fish and vegetables. I tend to change it up with wines depending on the way the grilled food is prepared but usually stick to something like this:
- Salmon – Merlot, Zinfandel
- Burgers – Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Syrah, Portugal Touriga Nacional
- Steaks – Pinot Noir (for fattier steaks), Zinfandel, Malbec, Syrah/Shiraz
- Pork Chops – Riesling, Barbera, Valpolicella, Pinot Noir, dry rosé ( I absolutely love dry rosé)
- Chicken –Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec (when grilling chicken), Cabernet Franc
- Sausages – Beer, Shiraz, Pinotage, Southern French, Tempranillo
Efficiency is Key
To speed up grilling time, I sometimes partially precook chicken, red meat, potatoes, carrots and other slow-cooking food in the oven or microwave. I recently invested in a sous vide precision cooker that’s completely changed some of my grilling techniques. I ended up buying the Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker after researching a bunch of them.
When grilling, if you need more than one cooking temperature, mound some coals on one side to create a hot section and spread coals out on the other side for a cooler section. Obviously, on a gas grill, you’ll be able to control the heat a bit easier.
Another factor to keep in mind is your grill grates and keeping them clean. This will help that nice, elegant seared look that makes for a great presentation. Your grill brush is one tool that you don’t want to skimp on. This is a helpful review article in regards to the perfect grill brush for your grill grate.
When grilling food on skewers, cut pieces into chunks that are too large to fall through the grate. Alternatively, for easy cleanup, consider using foil packets to grill onion rings, slices of zucchini and squash or even pineapple rings.
When basting, use two brushes -one green and one red. Use the green brush to baste raw meat. Once the meat has begun to cook, switch to the red brush to continue the process. This will help avoid any type of contamination.