Traditional cookout foods can vary depending on what part of the United States you live in. Southern barbeques tend to include pork and chicken more often than beef, which is often the traditional meat of choice in the northern portion of North America.
Southern Cookout Foods
While many Southern cookouts showcase pork, barbecued chicken is also found on grills from Kentucky all the way to Texas, Georgia and South Carolina. Chicken smothered in sweet tangy barbecue sauce is hard to resist. Another great way to serve chicken on the grill is to create what is commonly called beer can chicken or beer butt chicken.
Purchase a can of beer, drink about half of it and then stuff the can full of onions, garlic, celery and a little poultry seasoning. After removing the giblets from the chicken, put the chicken rear end first over the can of beer. The chicken will look as if it is sitting on a stool. The idea is to seal the cavity of the bird with the can of beer so that the steam goes into the meat. Smear melted butter over the outside of the bird, and then sprinkle it with garlic, onion powder and a little seasoning salt and pepper to seal the skin.
The can and the legs will hold the chicken upright while it cooks, but watch for grease splatters and grease fires. Placing an old tin foil pan set on the grill with the can of chicken set inside will catch much of the grease and avoid most of the flare-ups. Also, if possible, keep the lid on the grill down to create an even cooking area. It takes about two hours of manning the grill and adding coals as needed to cook a chicken this way, but it is well worth the trouble. Add barbecue sauce in the last 20 minutes of cooking. Serve chicken with garlic-smashed potatoes and asparagus and corn on the cob.
The end result is worth the wait. The inside will be as tender as you can imagine while the outside will be crispy and tasty. This delicious meal can even be created on a small charcoal grill.
Northerners love brats, hotdogs and steak, but the hands-down favorite in the North is a juicy burger grilled to perfection. Burgers can be cooked with onions and garlic and peppers, which can be added to the ground meat, or placed alongside the burger on the bun. Slather the whole sandwich with a bit of steak sauce, hot mustard and catsup, and add a generous helping of lettuce, with a thick slice of tomato and an accompanying thick slice of cheddar cheese. Serve it on a sesame seed bun, and you won't hear any complaints.
Traditional desserts also fall into two categories: cake and pie. While cheesecakes are pretty popular, they can be heavy on a hot summer's day, so a fresh strawberry shortcake might be a better choice. And, while watermelon is a traditional cookout dessert, you won't miss the mark when you set a freshly made blueberry pie on the picnic table.
Summer cookout games that get everyone interacting can make warm-weather barbeques even more fun. Simple family outdoor games, ranging from drawing a hopscotch grid with chalk on the driveway to setting up a badminton game, can create fond memories.
A 4th of July cookout is not only a chance to get in some good backyard cooking, but it is also an opportunity to thank our forefathers for fighting for our freedoms.
To create a cookout checklist, think in terms of no longer having access to the inside of your home. Make sure your party is self-sufficient from the get-go, and you won't feel exhausted when the party is over.