My Favorite Recipes for a Backyard Party: Recipe #28
Baked beans, potato salad, pulled pork and more.
The summer eating and backyard entertaining season is upon us.
Whether you’re hosting a graduation party, a 4th of July gathering (which just so happens to be my birthday), a neighborhood potluck or plain ol’ summer get-together, you need a few classic summer recipes in your back pocket.
There are times when you want to impress your guests with culinary prowess, with stellar dishes thoughtfully plated and cooked to perfect.
A fish boil or a backyard barbecue is not one of these times.
The key to a successful party is doing as much as you can ahead of time, selecting dishes that can hang in a slow cooker or on a table for hours. And if you’re social in any way (and I assume if you’re hosting a party, you are), you want low maintenance foods that require little attention so you can actually catch up with your friends and family versus spending all afternoon hovering over a grill.
With that in mind, I’m sharing my favorite backyard recipes. From pasta and potato salads to baked beans, slow roasted pork, desserts and drinks, every single one of these recipes is simple, holds well, and is so delicious.
Most of these recipes are for 6-8 people. Depending on your numbers, you may want to double (or triple) the recipe.
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The Best Baked Beans
These baked beans were one of my favorite dishes growing up. The variety of beans adds a great textural contrast; the bacon, a smoky accent; the onions, a nice crunch. Every time we make these, it always turns out a bit different… sometimes I’ll add a bit more heat, other times a few more splashes of vinegar, so feel free to play around with the ingredients.
5 strips of bacon, plus 1 tablespoon reserved bacon drippings
1 can (15 ounce) black beans
1 can (15 ounce) red kidney beans
1 can (15 ounce) garbanzo beans
1 can (15 ounce) butter beans
1 can (15 ounce) black eyed peas
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cook the bacon until crispy. Drain on a paper towel, chop and reserve. Place one tablespoon bacon drippings in a large mixing bowl.
Wash and drain all of the beans. Reserve.
Mix together all of the remaining ingredients in the mixing bowl with the bacon drippings. Add the reserved beans. Pour into a large oven-proof ceramic bean pot, fitted with a lid. Cover and bake for 40 minutes.
Uncover the pot, and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Serve.
Classic Potato Salad
2 pounds baby Yukon gold, or very small red skinned potatoes
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 ribs celery, finely diced
Bring a pot of well salted water to a boil. Add your potatoes, lower heat to maintain a strong simmer and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until tender, depending on the size of your potatoes. Drain and cool immediately. I like to rinse under cold water for a few minutes, then place them in the fridge to cool completely.
Cut in half or quarters and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the scallions, parsley, mayonnaise, vinegar and mustard. Mix well to combine, then stir in the celery. You can serve right away or refrigerate. If you do place in the fridge, let the potato salad come to just below room temp before serving.
Jamaican Hibiscus Punch
Infused with ginger, citrus zest and spices, this hibiscus punch is tangy and refreshing.
1 gallon boiling water
1/2 pound dried hibiscus flowers
1/2 cup fresh grated peeled ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 quarts water
Bring 1 gallon of water to a boil. Remove from heat, add the hibiscus flowers and ginger. Let steep for two hours at room temperature. Add the cinnamon, mace, clove, orange and lemon zest. Stir to combine, then transfer to a pitcher or other food-safe container and let sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Strain the liquid through a fine mesh cheese cloth so there are no little pieces in the punch. Discard solids.
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add the sugar and whisk until dissolved. Mix into the strained hibiscus punch. Chill and serve over ice.
Other recipes to round out your spread:
Pasta salad gets a gourmet glow-up in this summertime orecchiette, mozzarella, basil and tomatoes salad. It’s the easy pasta dish you need right now. It’s so simple and so satisfying.
Simple is best. This is one of those recipes. Don’t feel encumbered by the ingredients I am using here. Feel free to make this cold succotash–style corn and green tomato salad for any and every meal, at least until corn stops coming into the market. Sometimes I add handfuls of every herb I have in the garden. Or sometimes I add roasted garlic or toasted croutons to make this more of a panzanella-type salad.
It’s summer, so get outside and light up that grill. Relax and be patient, the best barbecued pork takes time.
Everyone will love this refreshing cucumber-and-mint infused lemonade at your next backyard party.
It’s not a Midwestern party until Aunt Suzanne breaks out the bars. This recipe is foolproof.