This should be simple, right? Have friends over, start up the grill and serve some drinks – it shouldn’t be complicated, yet many hosts don’t get it right. I get it, there are many intangibles such as who to invite, will children be in attendance and will vegetarians and/or vegans be bumming everyone out? We will get to the heart of these and other autumn issues of import. However, first things first.
1) GIVE YOUR FRIENDS THE OPTION OF BRINGING THEIR CHILDREN
Come on..this is the least you can do and this especially pertains to day games. Your friends with kids are overworked and stressed. Sometimes they will bring their kids and sometimes they need the afternoon away. It is thoughtful and important to remember your buddy who used to be the life of the party, but now because of children hasn’t slept in past 6 a.m. since last February. This guy (or gal) needs a drink and to talk to other adults about something other than his children or work.
Your friend will return to their home more relaxed, in a better mood and will be a better spouse and/or parent because of your thoughtful gesture.
2) WAIT UNTIL OCTOBER
I know, this is easier than it sounds. Maybe you just bought a grill and you want to break it in or maybe your kids are driving you crazy but believe me friend, have faith and wait.
There are many reasons you should wait until October to host, the primary reason being the heat. Nobody wants to sit outdoors in 90-degree weather, when fall is right around the corner. Sure, you have waited since January and the fact that football is here makes you really happy, but you have to slow your roll and wait until the weather is better.
Other related reasons are:
A) BACK TO SCHOOL – it’s not just a Rodney Dangerfield cinematic classic…it is a frame of mind. School has just started and families are getting back into a schedule. This is a drag for those wanting to host and those wanting to be invited, but it is always better to wait.
B) LABOR DAY WEEKEND – this is a faux pas that many people make when it comes to scheduling cookouts, weddings, parties and other soirees. Let friends have holiday weekends to themselves. Scheduling events around holiday weekends almost always causes disagreements between spouses, families and friends. No one needs this drama and sometimes people just need a weekend/holiday away from it all, without your crummy event ruining their plans. Do everyone a favor and leave Holiday Weekends alone.
3) HAVE TWO TELEVISIONS
This is self-explanatory. Before I was married, I lived in a split level bachelor pad and would always host important games. At a certain point in your thirties, your parties have to start being a little more family friendly. As a result, I would have a secondary television upstairs for the family friendly part of the party and the regular television in the basement for the yelling, swearing and arm-chair quarterbacking. Utilizing two TVs helps tremendously and keeps a friendly vibe flowing throughout the day.
If you want to be a true baller, put your second or even third television (America’s technological gluttony is embarrassing) outdoors. This can make your entire domicile adults only while the kids get to run around and tire themselves out, just like puppies. This is a win-win scenario.
If you are hosting a football party, it is acceptable to ask guests to BYOB (Bring Their Own Beverage), as long as you provide a few yourself and make an appropriate amount of food (more on that later).
A good rule of thumb is to have enough of your preferred beverages, a case of bottled water and a case of house beer.
Acceptable domestic beers for a day of watching football are:
- Miller Lite
- Miller High Life
- Coors Light
- Pabst Blue Ribbon
- Old Style
You should also have outdoor space available for beverages, which frees up refrigerator space. A steel beverage tub (or two) keeps your beverages cold and will last for years. I paid $30 for my tub over 10 years ago and use it whenever possible.
Tubs are not needed in the event of a Championship Game with 6 or fewer adults in attendance. In instances like these, craft beer is preferred and pizza/chicken wings should be ordered. The craft beer will take the edge off, and your host will not want to prepare food in the event of a Championship Game.
The following Ohio craft beers are encouraged for small events:
- Land Grant Stiff-Arm
- Land Grant Greens Keeper
- Rhineghiest Truth
- Seventh Sun Humulus Nimbus
- Columbus Brewing Company BODHI
- Columbus Brewing Company IPA
The following Columbus, Ohio, area restaurants are encouraged if delivery or carry out is available.
- Villa Nova
- Meister’s – especially if you are in the mood for deep dish. Click here for a great homemade deep dish recipe from moi.
Regardless of the game, extra points can be awarded by making and serving a punch-like drink. In fact, any time you are hosting more than a dozen adults, this is recommended.
I call the following potion ‘Tressel Drank.’
Inspired by former head coach of The Ohio State University, this drink is bare bones, efficient and not particularly imaginative. However, like it’s namesake, it gets the job done and lulls you to sleep by the fourth quarter.
- 1 part Brut (dry) Champagne
- 1 part Vodka (or Gin if want to add a summer twist)
- 1 part Orange Juice
- 1 part Sprite
- 1 part Tahitian Treat
- Put half a bag of small ice in canister
- Combine all liquid ingredients in pitcher
- Mix liquids profusely
- Poor over ice more ice
- Commandeer guest’s car keys (this can also be step one)
5) HAVE A FOOTBALL AND A CORN HOLE SET
Again, this is self-explanatory. Throwing a pigskin with your buddies will impress and fascinate young children. This fascination will help indoctrinate fandom into your children and ensure your progeny continue your proud family traditions.
As for the Corn Hole, well … everyone knows how much fun this can be. A beautiful autumn day with beer in hand while you insult your best and oldest friends is a great way to display your masculinity, bond and burn off nervous energy before the big game.
Spend the extra money and get a nice set with nice bags. This is a great investment, will lead to years of enjoyment and make you king of your block.
6) IT’S ALL ABOUT THE FOOD
When hosting, you are responsible for providing the entree (proteins cooked over fire), a side and a snack.
Deviled Eggs are a fine side:
- 6 eggs
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 2 strips thick cut bacon
- Sriracha sauce
What to do:
- Put eggs in individual slots in muffin pan
- Put muffin pan in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
- After 30 minutes, remove eggs and insert them into ice bath
- After another 30 minutes, remove eggs from ice bath, peel and cut lengthwise
- Put yolks, mayonnaise, mustard and white vinegar into bowl and mix to desired consistency
- Scoop mixture back into eggs
- Top with cooked bacon
- Add Sriracha
A simple cheese, cracker and meat tray is an acceptable snack. Charcuterie Plates should be relegated to dinner parties and hosting in-laws.
A) You don’t want to be the chump who runs out of food.
B) Delicious leftovers.
It is also important not to make so much food as that you have to discard expired leftovers. Wasting food is a sin that insults billions around the globe. I will provide suggestions to re-purpose your left over entrees so they do not go to waste.
It is acceptable to ask guests to provide a side IF it is convenient for them. Guests are NOT required to bring a side, and the youngest male bachelor of the group should never be asked to provide anything more elaborate than chips and salsa. However, this rule can be altered if his significant other offers to bring a side.
Alright, let’s get down to the three grilling food groups – Burgers, Brats and Wings.
Burgers come in three options and your choice depends on your level of skill, interest and budget. Buns are as important as what burger option you choose and will be paired accordingly. Condiments are also important and will be discussed later.
Option One – Frozen Patties.
(The above photo contains a grilled frozen patty burger and a store brand brat).
There is certainly nothing wrong with frozen patties from your local superstore, especially as you are learning to grill. These patties are inexpensive, easy to grill and should not warrant any complaints. My advice would be to use Lowry’s Seasoning Salt and Kraft cheese slices. The seasoning will up the flavor ante and the Kraft slices will ensure that no good cheese is wasted. Regular white buns should be paired with this option.
Option Two – Prepped burgers from your local butcher shop or grocery.
(The photo above contains a Pork Belly Blue Cheese Burger. The Pork Belly was purchased at Thurn’s and the patty from Giant Eagle.)
For the more experienced griller, this is a solid option. Your local Giant Eagle or Kroger will have many different types of burgers to choose from, ranging from plain to Bacon Blue Cheese. This option is the most pricey, but hard to go wrong with. I go to Schuman’s, get their house made quarter pound burgers and take them home and add Lowry’s, it is just that easy. Potato/Hawaiian buns should be provided with this option.
Option Three – Homemade.
(The above photo contains a house made burger and a bacon wrapped brat).
Unless you are an experienced chef, this option should be limited to smaller events as this option is more time-consuming, expensive and more difficult to grill. However, this is the most flavorful option and sourdough buns add a great texture and taste.
The following recipe is for 4 burgers:
- 1 lb ground chuck
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
- Thoroughly mix ingredients in large bowl
- Form patties
- Refrigerate for 60 minutes
- Add patties to HEATED and CLEANED grill
- Flip once (10 minutes per side on 350 degree grill)
- Add smoked cheddar cheese until melted
Condiments to be provided by host:
These condiments should be fresh and name brand. Spend the extra money and get quality products everyone will enjoy.
As for a creative use for leftovers, turn the hamburgers into a pasta sauce. Spaghetti is always easy and is a cure-all when feeling rundown from the previous day’s events.
Store brand brats are great for grilling for large groups and regular hot dog buns will do the trick. When grilling for a smaller group, go to your local pork store and pick up some delicious pork and buns that the awesome dude behind the counter recommends.
Acceptable toppings and condiments for brats are:
- Diced Onions
If one of your adult guests attempts to out ketchup on their brat, it is acceptable to commandeer their brat and escort them to their vehicle. It is your house and you deserve respect.
Some people boil their brats in beer and put a lot of time into the prep. I have always just thrown them on a clean and preheated grill. Find a nice hot spot and keep an eye on your brat. If they are on for 30 minutes (at 350) they are usually done, but cut one in half just to make sure. My rule is that when your brat starts to squirt juices, it is done. It really is just that easy.
It is also easy to wrap your brat in bacon. All you need is thick cut bacon from your local grocery deli counter and to wrap the bacon around the brat. Keep this wonderful pork marriage on the upper level of your grill with the lid down. That should take about 30 minutes.
Also, please get hot dogs for the kids. 1.5 hot dog/1 elementary school-aged guest is a good ratio.
Slice the brats and add them and the onion to a store purchased pizza crust along with sauce and cheese. The whole process will take 25 minutes and will also help with those long Sundays.
Barbecue and buffalo are both acceptable options.
It is really easy to make your own barbecue sauce, but for the purpose of this entry we will use store bought.
- 1 bottle of sauce of your choosing
- 3 lbs chicken from Schuman’s
- 1 bowl and 1 brush
- Put chicken on clean and heated grill
- Cook thoroughly
- Pour sauce into bowl
- Brush chicken with sauce, turn and brush again, wait one minute and repeat for 3 cycles
It really is just that easy. DO NOT marinade chicken in barbecue sauce and then grill. This will dry out the chicken.
Grilled Buffalo Chicken wings are also easy and fun.
- 3 lb chicken drums from Schuman’s
- 1 large bottle of Frank’s Buffalo Sauce (we aren’t reinventing the wheel)
- 2 sticks of butter
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons roasted red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Add all ingredients into pot and add to grill grates
- Add chicken to grill and cook thoroughly
- Add chicken to bubbling pot of sauce for 3 minutes
- Take chicken out and put back on grill for one minute
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 at least once more
By adding your chicken to a warm pot of sauce, the chicken will slightly separate from bone and sauce will inundate the entire wing. These are usually a big hit and hard to get wrong. Feel free to add or subtract from recipe as preferred.
Tear and shred wing meat and mix with mayo for a chicken salad sandwich.
Those rules should about cover it! If you follow these rules and your guests have a bad time, that is on you, not me. As always, thanks for reading and please leave comments!