There are a lot of things to appreciate about living in Southern California. The beaches. The food. The seemingly infinite number of fun things to do. But, probably the biggest draw for people to the greater Las Angeles and San Diego areas is the fact that it is sunny, warm, and wonderful outside almost every day of the year.
And when the sun is out, there are few better things to do than fire up the barbeque and have a part.
However, cooking outdoors in Southern California is about more than just the grill. And while that certainly seems to be the centerpiece, there is a whole culture of food in the region built around the idea that being outside is life. These 5 dishes are made for the outdoors, and should be on every home cook’s menu for their next backyard barbeque blowout beach party.
1 | Steak Kabob
With a few hunks of choice ribeye, an onion, and an assortment of colored peppers you can transform your grill into a kabob factory. Skewered meat and veggies is not only easy to prepare, it’s easy to eat. You can walk around the party with a kabob in one hand and a cold beer in the other without fear of spilling both all over your brand new white v-neck.
It’s a good idea to marinate the meat ahead of time in something that contains acid (such as lemon or lime juice). The acid helps to break down the connective tissue in the meat, making it easier to eat and better to taste.
2 | Avocado Salad
If you’ve ever made ceviche, then this recipe should be rather familiar to you. It’s something that can be easily prepared ahead of time then brought outside to serve alongside the more substantial food items on the menu. It’s bright, fresh, and perfect for sunshine.
Simply chop a few avocados into cubes and lightly toss them with red onion, freshly chopped tomato, cilantro, and finish with a bit of salt and freshly squeezed lime juice. For a bit of extra kick, consider adding your favorite hot peppers. Just be careful of those seeds!
3 | Smoked Pork Shoulder
For those who are brave and daring enough to take on the timeless art of meat smoking, this is the perfect cut of meat to impress your friends and feed the masses. Smoking is becoming more and more popular in Southern California, and can be an event that takes all day to get just right.
For the best results, use a dry rub consisting of sugar, salt, paprika, onion powder, and ground black pepper. While the pork is cooking, make a sauce with honey, molasses, orange juice, paprika, salt, and pepper and reduce it down. Once the pork shoulder has cooked through, baste it in the sauce and throw it on the grill to finish.
4 | Slider Bar
If there’s one thing people love more than regular sized hamburgers, it’s tiny hamburgers. Sliders have become a national phenomenon, and are a can’t-miss food choice for your next outdoor party.
To take things up a notch, consider putting together a slider bar where people can not only have their meat of choice, but they can then add anything to it from ketchup and mustard to bacon and fried oysters (yes!). The slider movement is now, and should make its way into your backyard as soon as possible.
5 | Sandia Loca
If you really want to turn heads at your next outdoor party, consider giving the sandia loca a shot. It literally translates to ‘crazy watermelon,’ and if you’ve ever seen one it’s easy to see why.
The sandia loca is made by hollowing out a watermelon half, and filling it with a chili-seasoned fruit salad and topped with hot sauce. If it sounds weird, that’s because it is. However, it is an absolute show-stopper and will make your party one that won’t soon be forgotten.