You’ve been invited to a friend’s barbecue, and, in a fit of misjudged generosity, you’ve offered to bring something along.
You could just take some beers or a bottle of wine. Or how about this time you make an effort — just a little — and try one of these alternatives instead. Do a great job, and you’ll be surprised by the positive reactions you receive.
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There’s no barbecue without meat, so bringing some more along is a pretty safe option. But the last thing you want to do is bring more of the same pre-packed burgers the host has stocked right up on anyway.
So, a great option is some lovingly-marinated meat. Something tasty and a little bit different will be sure to create interest, and will seem like you’ve really made an effort. But if you can spare the ten minutes it takes to stick the marinade and your chosen meat in a bowl — and the fridge space to let it do its thing — then it’s really not much effort at all.
Pork or chicken loves a marinade, or if you want to push the boat out, go for rump steaks for a really generous touch.
A fantastic sauce.
For a slightly more left-field alternative, a fresh, home-made sauce can be a really unexpected, and welcome, addition. Drop something versatile on the table that guests will want to put on everything. Whip out a South American inspired fresh chili and lime salsa, or a tasty classic smoky barbecue, and then stand back as the first few adventurous souls give it a try…then see how quickly it disappears as word gets around.
If your sauce is good enough, it’ll end up making its way onto every guest’s plate, and you may even steal a little focus from your host’s food. Oops!
A killer salad done right.
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This humble accompaniment is often overlooked at an event where meat is invariably the main attraction, the reason being that, more often that not, the salad is either thrown together as an afterthought, or store-bought. The answer? Go all-out for brightly coloured, interesting looking vegetables that’ll not only taste great, but also make your salad impossible to ignore amongst the sea of brown meat. Avoid polarizing ingredients that could alienate people (you may like to throw anchovies in there, but just this once, think about leaving them out), and for the dressing, go for big flavor. By-and-large at a barbecue, people are taking a break from eating healthily, and you can be sure no-one wants to join in with your particular fad-diet of the moment. Don’t forget, they’ll be tasting your delicious salad without knowing the calorie content, and in this case, ignorance is bliss.
Freshly baked bread.
One for the specialists this, as it takes a little more effort and know-how. It’s seriously worth it, though. After all, nothing impresses more than being able to proudly declare that yes, you baked it yourself. A basic bread recipe will do fine, but you can be as adventurous as you want, or your skills allow.
There’ll be few who can refuse a wonderfully soft buttered roll with their pile of meat, or, for a little (but not much) more fuss, mouth-watering home made garlic bread is all-but guaranteed to be a major success.
And if you can time you arrival so the bread’s still warm from the oven, the admiring glances will be sure to come thick and fast.
So the next time you’re invited to a barbecue why not ditch that big bag of chips and go all-in.
You might even find your little addition turns out to be the star of the show.