Top Tips for Your Al Fresco Dinner Party
Outdoor dining is undeniably one of the most enjoyable parts of the summer season.
However, at times hosts can feel like they’re stuck in the kitchen and missing out on the fun as guests enjoy themselves outside. Luckily, we’ve put together some top tips for your al fresco dinner party, including recipes that mean there will be no need to sweat over the stove for eight hours in order to be able to serve your guests a mouth-watering meal.
THE MAIN EVENT
Undeniably the most important element of any dinner party, the food on offer can be what makes or breaks your evening. These Seared beef rolls with Lemon Aioli work perfectly as a starter and, like all the dishes on this list, can be cooked on the barbecue, so you won’t be tied to the kitchen. Both the Barbecue Rib Eye Steak with watercress salsa verde and these Griddled Beef Burgers with Guacamole will satisfy everyone at the table and, again, will give you maximum flavour for minimal effort.
Check out more summer recipe inspiration here.
KEEP THE HEAT
If you struggle to get all your dishes ready at the same time or there just isn’t enough space on the grill, we might have a trick for you to keep your meat warmer for longer. Although normally used to keep drinks cool, an ice box can be the perfect way to keep your meat warm. Line the box with clean, dry tea towels and crumple up a few sheets of newspaper. Then wrap the meat in some thick tin foil, place it in the ice box and cover it with some more newspaper for insulation. Close the lid and take your time finishing up the rest of your dishes.
LIGHT THE WAY
To make sure your alfresco dinner party can continue into the wee hours, light up your dining area and surrounding space with candles, fairy lights and lanterns. Not only does this create the perfect outdoor dining ambience, it will also help with visibility after the sun goes down. British wind tends to make short work of candles so you might want to invest into some hurricane candle holders to extend the life of the flames.
A sharp knife is undoubtedly the best way to make cooking process as easy and painless as possible. Even the most professional chef’s knives need regular sharpening, but understandably, many of us are unwilling to shell out up to £80 for a sharpening stone. However, there is a more cost effective solution: all you need is an ordinary tea mug. The unglazed surface on the bottom of ceramic mugs is very similar to a sharpening stone and running the mug across the blade a good amount of times will do the job just fine, leaving your knives sharp enough to cut through any challenge your alfresco dinner party may bring.
Although it can be very easy to focus solely on the food you’ll be serving at your dinner party, taking a moment to think about what drinks would be the perfect accompaniment can lead to fantastic combinations, and very happy guests. Summer truly is cocktail season, so why not whip up some original and refreshing cocktails.
Take a look at our article on summer drinks for more inspiration.
A TWIST ON TRADITION
Kebabs are a popular barbecue dish with adults and children alike and a great way to use your Irish beef. If you fancy livening up the tried and tested formula, use rosemary stalks in place of traditional wooden skewers. You can easily grow them in your own garden, it’s a herb that requires very little care and attention. Alternatively, the stalks are available in any supermarket. To make the perfect skewer, simply remove about ¾ of the rosemary needles from the stalks so that only the top part remains covered. Pierce a hole into your beef and vegetable pieces and thread them onto the stalk. Then they are ready to go onto the barbecue, where the rosemary will give your meat a wonderfully rich aroma during the cooking process.
PREPARE FOR THE BRITISH SUMMERTIME
And by that, of course, we mean the rain. As with most things in life, preparation is key! Have some umbrellas or parasols on hand just in case, or go that extra step in organisation and set up a gazebo. Guests might be advised to bring wellies, and in the worst case scenario, the grill master will have to have tongs in one hand, umbrella in the other.