Eating gourmet is about the freshest ingredients, the best locally available foods, and preparing them with care and originality. With Gourmet Grilling on a Budget, you can still grill like a pro and make delicious and healthful meals with some of the following tips and tricks.
MAKE THE ORDINARY EXTRAORDINARY
Whether you are grilling or not, the trick to making gourmet food is to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. There is also the trick of adding a hint of the exotic, by bringing new foods, seasonings, and culinary influences to the table.
Keep appetizers simple and little more than a savory accompaniment to a glass of wine; nuts and chips from the supermarket are adequate and will not overshadow your meal. Limit the time for appetizers to half an hour while guests gather. Don't let guests wait for dinner until their appetites get out of control. If you have a late-comer, quietly let them catch up when they arrive.
With a little effort and just a little more expenditure, turn your backyard cookout into a bistro on the Rive Gauche by finding some locally made hot dogs in natural casings. Hot dogs made in this old-fashioned way retain juiciness and pop when you bite into them, releasing a flood of flavor. Serve them in the Parisian way on sections of a fresh baguette.
DRESS UP YOUR BURGERS
Ask your supermarket meat counter attendant to freshly grind some beef chuck roast instead of using the pre-packaged ground meat in the meat freezer. This service is usually provided free of charge and without paying too much more, you have upgraded the quality of your hamburger.
Instead of the usually enriched hamburger buns, try fresh Kaiser rolls or brioche from a local bakery. For an extra-added touch, lightly grill the sliced rolls in a little garlic butter before building your burger.
Saute a pan full of assorted sliced mushrooms with white onion, butter, thyme, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. A good example is my Red Robin Inspired Mushroom Swiss Burger Recipe.
Try some interesting cheeses, like Vermont white cheddar, smoked gouda, or even pepper jack. Any medium soft cheese will do, just see what is available in your area. Don't hesitate to do a little research to find locally-made cheese.
ADD A LITTLE FLAIR
Adding a little flair to your food presentation will almost always make the meal more appealing.
Many families collect beautiful serving platters, bowls, and table linen that just sits around gathering dust until it's passed on to gather dust in someone else's house. What are you waiting for? Try to use some of these special items to make meals and life more beautiful.
Use nice bowls and spoons to serve condiments, chips, and all your food. This will take your meal to another level. This is an important factor in making a gourmet meal. It doesn't need to cost that much more, but it does take a little more thought and work. One of the main reasons to do this is to show family, friends, or a special someone how much they mean to us.
GOURMET GRILLING ON A BUDGET WITH EXOTIC FLAVORS
Besides taking care to find the right ingredients and attractive serving items, adding some exotic flavors can wake up a meal.
For a change of pace from the usual pasta or macaroni salad, create a fabulous Thai noodle salad by cooking some thick rice noodles and adding fresh veggies like snow pea pods, assorted bell peppers, mushrooms, onion, asparagus bits, or any other family favorites. Toss the whole thing in some Thai peanut sauce and garnish with a generous handful of fresh shredded sweet basil. You could easily make this a nice summer main dish with the addition of shrimp, pork, or chicken.
This is just one example of using side dishes to bring some exotic tastes to your next grill party. Some other easy ideas are red beans and rice, fried plantains, or tomato mozzarella salad.
Be creative in your drink mixing as well by preparing ice-cold pitchers of prosecco and pomegranate juice, sangria, or some microbrews. These are all relatively inexpensive options and are not commonplace backyard party items. This is exactly why they will make an immediate impact on your guests.
READY TO TAKE YOUR GRILLING TO THE NEXT LEVEL?
Gourmet grilling and entertaining don't have to be expensive, you just might have to do a little more work and free your imagination. Try some of these ideas for your next party, and don't forget the ice and great music!
When we think of gourmet food we think of rare delicacies from exotic locations, but the best of the harvest skillfully prepared and artfully presented, whether indigenous to your backyard or not, more than meets the criteria of high quality, accurate preparation, and artistic presentation normally applied to gourmet food.
When we see "budget", we often think "cheap" and even when we know that perception will color reality and that one word has nothing to do with the other, no one wants to eat "cheap" food.
Wait, there's more...
Do you need to up your spice game?
This is a great place to start.