Serious Entertaining

Seasonal menu planning for the perfect dinner party.

Serious Entertaining: A Meathead's Cookout

[Photographs: Joshua Bousel and J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

In the past couple weeks, we've covered a seafood feast and a vegetarian fete, both of which are solid alternatives to the usual meat-filled summer cookout. This week though, we're going back to tradition and celebrating the advent of August with a menu that will satisfy even the most devoted carnivore. It's high time to fire up the grill and cook up some dishes that are perfect for a balmy summer night. While it's true that grilled meats can often be a little heavy, some of our picks have a little kick to keep your taste buds (and stomach) from feeling too weighed down.

Here is the menu for a summer feast that includes options both traditional and a little unusual (pig candy, anyone?).

Armadillo Eggs (Cheese-Stuffed, Sausage-Wrapped, Grilled Jalapeños)

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[Photograph: Joshua Bousel]

Cheese-stuffed jalapeño poppers are a classic appetizer, and for good reason—they're delicious! These armadillo eggs are a satisfying twist to the original, wrapping a basic stuffed jalapeño with sausage for an extra boost of flavor and texture. While they're delicious as is, we suggest trying them with chorizo for an extra special start to your meal.

Get the recipe! »

Thai Spicy Duck Salad

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[Photograph: Joshua Bousel]

If you're tired of iceberg lettuce and ranch dressing, try this refreshing option with bright flavors and a meaty addition that makes it perfect for a meat-lover's cookout. The exotic interplay of components hits all the right tart, nutty, sweet, savory and spicy notes and makes for a dish that will excite any palate. Even if you've never grilled duck before, don't be afraid to give it a try—it goes perfectly in this recipe.

Get the recipe! »

Grilled Skirt Steak Fajitas

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[Photograph: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

If you're looking for a classic meat dish that's more exciting than a basic hamburger or hot dog, try these steak fajitas instead. The ingredients for the marinade are basic—the most exotic elements are soy sauce, lime juice, and cumin—but the results are spectacular. We do recommend making your own chili powder from equal parts ancho and guajillo chile peppers; it's a little extra work, but the flavor is more than worth it.

Get the recipe! »

Pig Candy

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[Photograph: Joshua Bousel]

What better way to close out a meathead's cookout than with a dessert whose star ingredient is meat? And what better meat to feature than bacon? This recipe is almost embarrassingly simple, with only four ingredients but an end result that will leave your guests speechless. After you master the basic recipe, try adding your own spin to the basic brown sugar-cayenne-maple glaze. We like the thought of switching up the spices or adding some finely chopped pecans.

Get the recipe! »

Beer, Beer, Beer

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Not sure what drink to serve with your carnivorous feast? Try beer! The flavor of beer goes hand-in-hand with the flavor of grilled food, which makes the two a perfectly suited match. If you're not sure what beer to choose, we've asked a number of cicerones (read: beer experts) for their advice on what beers pair best with grilled foods. Since our menu is mostly composed of red meats and spicy dishes, we suggest a darker beer to balance the meat and temper the capsaicin kick.

Get the list! »

About the author: Ida Yu is a 4th year student at the University of Virginia majoring in Computer Science but with a secret love for all things food and sustainability. She doesn't have her own blog yet, but her ultimate goal is to start one named ILoveChickensAndChocolate.com. Keep an eye out for it.

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