Recipes: Family BBQ

I'm fortunate enough to have an extended family living nearby, so when we BBQ, we really tie on the feedbag for 9 people! Being from Texas, it becomes a point of honor to be able to entertain well around a BBQ.

Below is a typical menu that we might serve. I start cooking it about 2 hours before guests are due to arrive. Make sure the guacamole is ready when they walk in the door, as well as a pitcher of mojitos. I'll also have Mexican beer and soft drinks on hand for those who are avoiding hard liquor.

Veggie Kabobs, Chili-rubbed Chicken, Honey Chipotle Ribs, and Drumsticks. Yum!



This refreshing drink of rum, lime, sugar, and mint came to me from Cuba and it goes down well with a summery BBQ!

Be sure to check out my Mojito recipe.

Guacamole & Salsa w/ Tortilla Chips

Gotta have a little Tex-mex here somewhere, and chips with guac go down mighty fine as an appeteazer. We don't really have a recipe per se, Texans can make this stuff blind folded. Just mash some avacados, and add a little homemade salsa of chopped tomato and onion. To make it spicier, touch it up with some canned green enchilada sauce. It can take quite a bit of heat because the rich avacado carries it away before it can do much harm.

Turkey Sausages w/ Honey Chipotle BBQ Sauce

Sausages are a weakness I don't think I'll ever overcome, no matter how bad they are for me. To moderate a little bit I've taken to having them in smaller quantities as an appetizer. Just BBQ them over a hot flame, puncturing them to let the grease out. There are some excellent turkey sausages available that are a touch healthier than the beef and pork. To keep them in proper theme for the rest of the BBQ I usually set out some of the Honey Chipotle BBQ sauce to have with them. See below for the recipe.

Corralitos Meat Market: Source of Gourmet Sausages and Meats in our area...


Honey Chipotle Ribs

This will be the long lead-time item on most menus, so start here. I discovered Honey Chipotle BBQ sauces while visiting Santa Fe, and I just had to have my own version! This is one I made up. We're cheating a little bit here to start with the KC Masterpiece, but what the heck, you've got to start somewhere. This sauce is not too hot--many friends who are not into spicey love it. In fact, the sauce is my most copied recipe. Try some, its good on most anything. I especially like it as a dipping sauce with the grilled sausages I favor as an appetizer.

2 racks pork baby back ribs
rinsed and patted dry

2 Tbs. kosher salt
1 Tbs. coarse ground pepper
1 Tbs. granulated garlic
1 tsp. whole thyme
1 tsp. whole marjoram
Combine thoroughly.

3 chipotle peppers: I used canned chipotles in adobo sauce
1 Tbs. fresh garlic, chopped
2 cups bottled KC Masterpiece BBQ sauce
1/2 cup honey
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
Puree in a food processor until smooth. A blender works too.

Start grill to bring to temperature of 350º.

Rub ribs with "rub" and place on grill, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Turn over, baste liberally with sauce, cover and cook an additional 20 minutes. Turn over, baste again and cook another 20 minutes or until tender.

Cut between ribs and enjoy!

You need to decide how "crusty" you want the ribs to be, as the sauce will be cooked on. You may want to experiment with lower temperatures and looker cooking times as well. This works pretty darn good though!

I like to use the chipotles in canned adobo sauce. I think the adobo sauce adds extra flavor to the bbq and I put the remainder of the sauce out in a little ramiken for those who want some real hot stuff with their chips and guac.

Chili-rubbed Chicken

My friend Karen Henken introduced me to this tasty recipe.

1 part Cayenne Pepper
2 parts Paprika
2 parts Chili Powder
2 parts Dijon mustard
Olive Oil

For "part" you have to decide based on how much chicken you are cooking. 1 part = 1 tablespoon works, but you may want to double that recipe to make sure you don't run out. Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl, add the mustard, and then add just enough olive oil to make a nice paste that you can brush onto the chicken. Whisk it all together and apply to both sides of the boneless chicken breasts

The chicken will cook in about 20 minutes, so you want to time putting it on the grill with when you want to eat, keeping in mind other meats like ribs are the slow end of the bargain. Also, you want the grill hot when you first put the chicken on to sear the outside. Generally, I move the ribs up to the warming grid while I'm doing this, and then when I've seared both sides of the chicken on High heat, I'll turn down to medium and get the ribs back down on the grilling surface.

Don't be afraid of the spice on these--the fire cooks all the heat out and leaves behind a fairly mellow flavor that even spice-averse kids handle with ease. To make it even more savory, serve with a little dish of apricot chutney. That's how they do it at Tarpy's Roadhouse and it works!

The Chicken is Just Getting Started!

Lemon Chicken Drumsticks for Kids

Of course my young kids find all of this way to exotic for their tender young palates, so I prepare some drumsticks especially for them that are much simpler. Just douse them in olive oil and lemon juice and then salt and pepper liberally. Leave the skin on these guys. They come out juicy and tender--perfect for the little ones to eat, and they keep well for snacks later!

Cider Brined Pork Chops

Turn 'em just right to get nice grill marks...

When friend and business colleague Ron Fior extolled the virtues of brining for turkeys and pork chops (his favorite), I knew I had to try it. This is not Ron's recipe, so don't hold him responsible!

2 cups apple cider
1 3/4 cups water
1/4 cup coarse kosher salt
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 cinammon stick
4 pork-loin chops, about 3/4 inch thick

Brining the chops:

Place a large sauce pan over medium heat, add the apple cider and water, and bring to a boil. Add the kosher salt, brown sugar, pepper, sage, and cinammon, stirring until its been dissolved. Remove the brine from heat and chill it down in the refrigerator. Once chilled, put your chops in whatever containing you want, add the brine, and then cover the meat with water. Cover and stick it in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours.

Now BBQ those babies and get ready for some good eating!

Brining is an interesting process. The salt in the water is really the active ingredient. When the salinity of the water is higher than the salt in the meat, osmotic forces carry the water into the meat. The spices and other flavorings get a free ride as well. Done properly, you get much juicier and more flavorful meats.

Roasted Pork Loin with Garlic

Why? Because pork fat rules, that's why!

There isn't a lot to this dish, it's quick and easy.


Most of the work is in the garlic, and that ain't much. Just take a bunch of cloves, you can leave whole heads or just the cloves, and put them into a square tray made of aluminum foil. Douse them with some olive oil, and then season liberally with salt and pepper. Put them on the grill where they can receive indirect heat, but no direct flames. By the time the meat is ready, the garlic will be golden brown and soft. I just serve it up like a side dish--the sweet flavor of roasted garlic is wonderful with pork. You can also spread it on crusty french bread.

BTW, the skins of the garlic come off very easily when its cooked, so I wait until this point and remove the skins before serving.

Pork Tenderloin

Take a pork tenderloin that's been throroughly rubbed with peppercorns. Oil your grill, and throw it on over medium high heat. Once you've got it browned all around, with some nice grill marks. Turn down the heat to medium, move the pork to an area of indirect heat, and cook until your meat thermometer registers 160°F. I like to carve a little on the bias and then serve it up with the garlic and your other side dishes.


Side Dishes

Fresh Corn on the Cob

This is easy. You can boil it or leave it in the husks and microwave. Stay on top of it, though. When we're late, its usually because the corn is late and everything else is ready. My wife "pre-butters" the corn by inserting corn holders and twirling each cob over a stick of butter. Mighty thoughtful of her, don't you think?

Foil Wrapped Oriental Vegetables

One pouch is wrapped, the one below is seasoned and ready to be wrapped...

This is a fantastically tasty recipe. I couldn't believe how well it turned out when I tried it. And it's so easy. Take a square of foil. Pile on some oriental vegetables--I like snow peas, mushrooms, and carrots. Add some slivered fresh garlic and ginger. Sprinkle on soy sauce and sesame seeds. Now fold the top half down, and start folding the left and right sides with tight little folds. You want it to hold in the steam when the vegetables are cooking. Before folding the top closed, add a tablespoon of dry sherry. I'm using Amontillado, with appologies to Edgar Allen Poe. Make a pouch for each diner. Throw them on the grill for about 8 minutes or until the puff up. Done!

Veggie Skewers

These are dead simple. If your house guests insist on helping, this is the right job for them. Chop up the veggies--I like cherry tomato, red onion chunks, fresh mushrooms, and two colors of bell pepper. The more adventursome could put garlic on as well. Soak the bamboo skewers in water for half an hour so they don't burn, and then start threading the veggies onto the skewers. When done, brush them with some olive oil and apply salt and pepper. BBQ just enough so you can see signs they're cooked, but no more--I like mine pretty crisp.

Caprese Salad

If a guest wants to bring something, I suggest having them either bring a salad or the dessert. Absent a guest's salad, I always opt for the Caprese salad. I'm not real fond of greenery, and this Italian tomato, onion, and mozarella salad is the perfect substitute. This is also a good task to set a house guest to if they want to cook, because its a very easy salad to make.

You simply alternate layers of sliced tomato, mozarella, and onion. When you have a layer of each, sprinkle olive oil over it and then salt and pepper. Go on to the next layer. Usually about 3 layers will suffice. You can then decorate the top of the salad with pine nuts and maybe some fresh basil or cilantro. Use a premium olive oil, heirloom tomatos, and get the mozarella that's packed in brine for best results. A dash of good balsamic vinegar on top can also add a lot of flavor.

How Can A Real Texan BBQ With Gas?!??

Hardly seems reasonable that a Texan is cooking with gas instead of charcoal or wood, does it? Well fear not. For grilling, the differences in taste are not significant. We're mostly searing the meat to lock in the juices and relying on the marinades and sauces to make the difference on flavor. However, I will be the first one to admit that this is girlie man BBQ. Real Texas BBQ involves slowly cooking the meat for hours and letting the smoke from real wood add flavor. Forget pans of water with wood chips and all that BS. As far as I'm concerned, forget indirect cooking on a regular BBQ grill too. Real smoking demands the right equipping--a real smoker. Check out my brother-in-law's smoker, it's as good as good can be:

Now that's what I'm talking about!

Someday, I have got to get me one of those things!

All material 2001-2006, Robert W. Warfield.