With Labor Day coming up all too fast, it’s time to plan your last weekend bash. The end of summer deserves a sendoff with style, so we have a few ideas for feeding a crowd, whether you are at the beach, the lake or enjoying the comforts of your own backyard. Read on for some party ideas worthy of the name.
The Pig Roast
For those who like to eat – and to cook – nothing says “serious party” like a suckling pig. Any gathering with a whole pig at the center instantly becomes the event of the summer and will be remembered and talked about. Lucky for you, we offer whole suckling and roasting pigs delivered to your door. Which means your party just made the not-to-be-missed list.
You can go old school and dig a pit, line it with coals and light it up. But some prefer to use their smokers for a more controlled cooking experience, and flavorful results.
Another popular method is to use a roasting box like La Caja China. Based on the Cuban style of roasting, this specialized implement not only roasts up to 100 pounds of meat but does it in 4 hours! The secret is that the coals are laid out on the closed lid, which radiates heat throughout the metal-lined box. You end up with incredibly moist meat and crackly skin, which is the entire goal of the project. Evenly cooked pork in half the time? We’re there. The investment in the roasting box will pay off if you make pig roasting an annual tradition (and you can roast many other things).
The Clambake or Shrimp Boil
The clambake is a New England staple, best done on the beach. Traditionally a whole mess of seafood (clams, mussels, lobsters) is combined with sausage (andouille or chorizo are ideal) and corn on the cob in a pit lined with heated rocks or coal and smothered in seaweed. If you’re not at the beach, you can adapt the recipe for the backyard grill.
Use a large baking sheet that fits on your grill, pour in a cup or so of water, then cover with half of the wet seaweed (you still need that!). Pile the seafood and corn on top with some lemon slices tucked throughout, then cover with the rest of the seaweed. Keep the grill on low with the lid closed, and in about 20 minutes (give or take) your clambake should be done. Serve with melted butter.
Another alternative is the shrimp boil, which, contrary to the name, is actually simmered in a large pot of beer and water. Old Bay spice is the traditional seasoning for this one-pot meal. Potatoes, onions, corn and andouille sausage get cooked in stages, then the shrimp with shells are added in the last 5 minutes. Drain the liquid and discard. The authentic – and fun – way to serve the contents of a shrimp boil is on a thick layer of newspaper (or butcher paper) laid out on a picnic table. Forks optional.
The Taco Bar
Plan a gathering with a taco bar as the center of attraction. This option allows the host to prep ahead of time, leaving more freedom to eat, drink and mingle at the party. Offer pulled pork – like this recipe for pork carnitas – and a beef option like our flavorful Wagyu beef barbacoa. You can also include tortilla bowls at your taco bar, and let guests load up on their favorites.
The best part of a DIY taco bar is that your guests can customize their own plates without making special requests of the kitchen. Make a few sides, like our smoky street corn salad with bacon, a play on the flavors of elote, the popular Mexican-style corn on the cob. Get the corn salad recipe here.
We are sorry to see summer end, but there’s always cassoulet season to look forward to!