Everyone has their favorite cookout foods, but, where you live often determines what they are. If you live by the sea, then you probably think of seafood, clams, lobsters. If you live in the west, then beef is the first thing on your menu.
Generally speaking, for a traditional American cookout or picnic, however, there are some foods that transcend geography and ethnic origins.
1. Meat is the first thing that most people consider when planning a cookout or a picnic. This can be as expensive as T-bone steaks, or as simple as a hot dog, but it is normally the main event.
Of course, we think of hamburgers. Easy to cook on a grill, they are a good choice, if you are having a crowd. Hot dogs and bratwurst are also good choices. The hamburgers should be ground chuck or round, nothing leaner, since they become too dry, and the hot dogs and bratwurst should be a good brand and all meat.
As for steaks, cheaper cuts of meat don’t, usually, get tender on the grill.
Ribs and Chicken are two more favorites, and nothing smells better than charcoal grilled barbequed meat. If you’re taking a picnic somewhere and not cooking out, old fashioned oven baked or fried chicken is a perfect take along main dish. Pork chops, and ham steaks, or about any other meat can be grilled, and the recipes for sauces and preparation are endless.
If you want to combine several favorites, skish kabobs are a good choice.
2. Seafood is popular everywhere. Shrimp is wonderful on the grill, and there are no end of sauces to baste it with. It is easier to grill and eat if you put them on skewers. Fish can be grilled, or wrapped in foil and steamed with herbs and lemon.
3. Vegetables are great grilled. Sliced potatoes, with garlic butter and salt and pepper, and corn on the cob grilled either with or without the husks are a great addition to a cookout. When you are grilling corn in the husk, however, just remember to keep the husks wet, so they don’t burn. Raw veggie plates with dip are healthy and easy to take along on a picnic.
Of course, the old standby, baked beans is always a good choice.
4. Salads and fruit are cool and refreshing side dishes. Potato, pasta or taco salads are standards at any cookout, and easy to take with you on your picnic.
A watermelon fruit bowl, made by hollowing out half of a melon and filling it with melon balls, berries, pineapple, and other fruit is a welcome extra.
5. Desserts are expected, whether it’s chocolate cake, or key lime pie, everyone has room for desserts. Cupcakes, however are easier to deal with if you are packing a picnic basket.