Just because you can’t invite all your friends and family to a big barbecue at your favorite park, or even in your own backyard, doesn’t mean you can’t add some sizzle to your next summertime cookout — or should that be cook-in?
“Barbecue in the South represents connection and community,” says chef Mee McCormick, a rancher, restaurateur and author of “My Pinewood Kitchen: A Southern Culinary Cure,” who runs Pinewood Kitchen & Mercantile, an organic farm, restaurant and general store outside Nashville. “In Pinewood, we as a community raise the beef and pork, and then it takes a couple of people to smoke it all night. Just the idea of gathering together to create a delicious meal sparks the idea of connection. One of the most painful feelings for us is the feeling of being left out. Barbecues are the opposite; they equal belonging.”
Maybe that’s why we’ve got such a hankering to throw a barbecue right now — even if it must be held inside and with a small gathering of the members of your household or socially distanced friends.
“There is nothing like a home-cooked meal,” says Suzanne Vizethann, owner and executive chef of Buttermilk Kitchen in Atlanta, whose new cookbook, “Welcome to Buttermilk Kitchen,” features recipes with a Southern bent. “My fiancé and I try to sit down together every night. … There is something comforting in breaking bread together. It’s an opportunity to put down our mobile devices and talk to each other and let go of the stresses of the day. I look forward to it every night.”
We asked McCormick and Vizethann for their top tools for throwing your own indoor barbecue (and a few recipes, too!). Whether you have a patio to grill on or are ready to heat up a grill pan on the stove, remember, it’s all about bringing a little Southern hospitality — and fun — to your meal, no matter how tough the current circumstances may be.
“The most important tip is to enjoy the act of preparing great food with the folks you love,” McCormick says. “Gratitude is how we change our attitude.”
Philips Smokeless Indoor BBQ Grill ($129.95, originally $299.99; amazon.com)
If you’re short on patio or outdoor space, you can still get that barbecue flavor from your kitchen. “This indoor barbecue grill saves every rainy day,” McCormick says. “It’s smokeless, takes up little space and is easy to use. I load it up with my carrot wieners (recipe below) and grass-fed beef hot dogs. Summer ‘inside’ has never been better!”
All-Clad Hard Anodized Nonstick 11-Inch Square Grill Pan ($49.99; bedbathandbeyond.com)
This grill pan, a favorite of shoppers, is versatile — you can use it to grill chicken, kabobs, veggies and more. Reviewers love its nonstick coating.
Lodge 16.75” x 9.5” Cast Iron Reversible Griddle ($29.99; target.com)
For a larger grilling surface, this reversible griddle is flat on one side and has ridges on the other to give you those gorgeous char marks on everything from burgers to veggies.
Omaha Steaks Five-Star Father’s Day Grill Pack ($179, originally $305.89; omahasteaks.com)
You’ve got the grill — now, the meat. Save 41% when you buy this combo priced pack that includes four 5-ounce bacon-wrapped filet mignons and top sirloins, two 1-pound packages of premium ground beef, four gourmet jumbo franks, eight Italian sausages, four sides of hash browns, potatoes au gratin and caramel apple tartlets, plus a jar of seasoning.
Porter Road Grill Master Box ($70; porterroad.com)
The meat delivery service Porter Road, which we reviewed recently, specializes in high-quality, hand-cut meat sourced from farms in Tennessee and Kentucky. And this grill box has everything you need to throw an indoor bash. We’re talking steaks, hamburger patties and sausage links.
For more meat delivery options, see our guide here.
When planning your menu, pick dishes that are easy to prepare ahead of time, so you can spend time hanging out with your family, Visethann says. “Skillet meals are great for this or something like chicken kabobs that you can marinate and prepare hours before dinner,” she says. “Pick a dish that is familiar to you or one you have made before.”
Perfect for cooking veggies, chicken, steak, shrimp and more, these dual-prong skewers keep your kabobs from rolling on the grill, and a built-in slider makes removing the food extra easy.
Dust and Things ‘King of the Grill’ Wooden BBQ Cutting Board ($24.99; amazon.com)
Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set With Grill Glove ($19.99, originally $29.99; homedepot.com)
Of course, you’ll need something to cut and serve your food on. Frequent barbecuers will love this cutting board that you can have customized with a name engraved on it. Choose from hevea wood or natural slate. For an extra $6.99, you can also get a message engraved on the back. And you’ll need the proper tools. Cuisinart’s set includes a grill spatula, fork, tongs and a heat-resistant grill glove.
Cutting Board Wood / Marble - 3R Studios ($46.80; target.com)
Round Raw Edge Tree Ring Cutting Board ($29.99; worldmarket.com)
While we certainly wouldn’t judge anyone for keeping their barbecue spread solely meat-focused, we’ve also never said no to an appetizer spread.
“I love a good cheese platter or grazing board with pimento cheese, pickled veggies, crusty bread/crackers, smoked trout or salmon and jelly or jam presented on a beautiful tray,” Vizethann says. She says she’s a fan of of platters and trays at World Market, adding, “You could also use a big wooden cutting board to display your items.”
Doux South Angry Cukes, 2-Pack ($17.99; amazon.com)
What else should be on the menu? “If I am not making it myself, Woodsmoke Provisions has an excellent smoked salmon pastrami and Doux South has amazing pickled vegetables,” Vizethann says. “You should also invest in serving utensils such as cocktail forks and spoons, a cheese spreader and tongs.”
KitchenAid 11-Cup Food Processor ($159.87; amazon.com)
“Summertime in the South is the season of field peas and black-eyed peas,” McCormick says. “These are my favorites, and they benefit and support a healthy microbiome. The Tennessee Caviar (recipe below) is easy to make and reminds everyone of barbecues gone by.”
And the key for a quick prep of any side summer dish, green salad, slaw or potato salad? Use a food processor. “For Tennessee Caviar I add in chunks of onions, bell peppers, celery and quickly pulse,” she says. “I prefer to use my trusted and true KitchenAid. It is easily available and I’ve had mine for years.”
Triumph Bean Bag Toss ($59.99; dickssportinggoods.com)
Jenga Giant Hardwood Game ($118.50, originally $129.99; amazon.com)
Don’t forget the barbecue party games! No outdoor space available? No problem. A bean bag toss game is easy to set up in your living room, as is a giant version of Jenga that stacks up to 5 feet tall.
Gibson Overseas 12-Piece Melamine Dinnerware Set ($36.74, originally $39.99; amazon.com)
“Setting the indoor table with pretty outdoor tableware shifts the mood and puts everyone into a good groove,” McCormick says. She says a rustic melamine vibe, like this Gibson line, “feels country and summer all in one.”
Our Place Main Plates ($50; fromourplace.com)
Kitchenware brand Our Place specializes in pans, plates, bowls and more in lovely muted tones that are Insta-worthy. We’re personally in love with these plates — the black and white speckled with the pink edges to be specific — and there are even bowls to match.
’Welcome to Buttermilk Kitchen’ by Suzanne Vizethann ($29.69; amazon.com)
Planning your barbecue menu? If things like fried chicken biscuits, grits or hash brown fritters sound appealing, order a copy of Vizethann’s new cookbook. A 2011 winner of “Chopped” on the Food Network, the chef shares 100 farm-to-table recipes from her popular Atlanta breakfast and lunch restaurant spot — all with a Southern sensibility.
’My Pinewood Kitchen: A Southern Culinary Cure’ by Mee McCormick ($21.38; amazon.com)
Try McCormick’s microbiome-friendly meals at home with her cookbook filled with more than 130 Southern-inspired, gluten-free recipes designed to cut inflammation and help heal your gut. For your barbecue, consider whipping up a batch of gluten-free fried chicken, which McCormick says is selling out as fast as she can make it at her Tennessee restaurant right now. “I now know that people want the combo of classic deliciousness and a twist of wellness,” she says.
Carrot Wieners Pinewood-Style, serves 8
“This is probably the most requested item I’ve made on TV,” McCormick says. “Everyone wants a carrot wiener. Others think the idea is crazy, but once they try one, they are wowed!”
1 cup vegetable broth
1½ cups apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari or coconut aminos
½ teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons mustard powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 medium carrots, peeled with skinny ends trimmed and cut to the length of a hot dog bun
8 gluten-free hot dog buns (such as Udi’s)
Toppings of choice
1. In a medium saucepan, mix together the broth, vinegars, tamari or coconut aminos, liquid smoke, paprika, mustard powder, garlic powder, coriander and black pepper. Bring to a simmer. Let this marinade simmer for five minutes.
2. Meanwhile, toss the oil and the carrots together in a small roasting pan. Remove the marinade from the stovetop and pour it over the carrots. Cover and let it sit for at least 30 minutes and, preferably, up to two hours.
3. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Roast the carrots, covered, for 20 minutes. Uncover and stir them around, flipping them over, and roast for another 20 to 25 minutes. The carrots should be tender on the outside with a little bit of resistance in the center when pierced with a fork.
4. Place them on the buns and serve with a variety of traditional hot dog toppings.
Tennessee Caviar, serves 4
“Garden peas are caviar here in the South,” McCormick says. “They take a lot of work to pick and shell, and we try to make them the star of the dish so we don’t waste the effort. This recipe can be made with any Southern farm pea — purple hull, zipper cream peas or cow peas.”
⅓ cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt (plus more to taste)
½ teaspoon pepper (plus more to taste)
4 cups soaked, rinsed, and cooked black-eyed peas*
6 scallions, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and minced (optional)
1 celery rib, chopped fine
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
*If short on time, replace with two 15-ounce cans black-eyed peas, rinsed.
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, garlic, sea salt, and pepper.
2. Add the peas, scallions, bell peppers, jalapeños (if using), celery, cilantro, and parsley, and toss to combine. Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste.
3. Let sit for at least one hour before serving. Tennessee Caviar can be covered and refrigerated for up to five days.
Buttermilk Kitchen House Seasoning, makes 2 cups
“This is one of those rubs/mixes that just goes on everything,” Vizethann says. “My fiancé and I love to rub it on wings and it also pairs well with potatoes. I also use it to season rice.”
1½ cups kosher salt
⅛ cup turbinado sugar
1 tablespoon and 1½ teaspoons ground black pepper
⅓ cup garlic powder
1½ tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon curry powder
¼ cup paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for 30 seconds until thoroughly combined and color turns pink. If not using right away, place in an airtight container and set in the pantry.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.