Affordable Cuts to Feed A Crowd: Summer Edition

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Summer BBQ season is coming and I could not be more excited. I dream of the day that we move out of our one bedroom apartment and into a house with a backyard BBQ. Until then, I just try to invite myself over to friends’ houses with the promise of meat.

One of the major problems that most people face when thinking about having a BBQ is the uncertainty surrounding what cuts of meat to serve, especially if you’re trying to buy from a good butcher. Ribeyes and filets can be super expensive and, when you’re buying for a crowd, that adds up quickly. You love your friends, yes, but maybe not that much. Of course, sausages are an economical option but I wanted to give you a few other suggestions so that you can class it up over summer and have your friends over without breaking your bank account. So, here it is, my list of affordable cuts to feed a crowd over the summer:

  1. Whole Sirloin Flap AKA bavette. You can marinate this just like carne asada, or put a dry rub on it. Be sure that the butcher has cleaned the silver skin off it for you, and have them leave as much fat on as possible. Finally and, most importantly, be sure to slice it into thin strips across the grain. Don’t worry- the grain is so visible you’ll know just what I’m talking about when you see it. Estimate about ½ pound per person.
  2. Whole Butterflied Chicken. I never understand why someone would want to throw a bunch of boneless chicken breasts on the grill to dry out. But, grilling separate legs can also be sort of time consuming and grill space greedy. So, I always recommend the grilled butterflied chicken for a crowd. Firstly, guests can get white or dark meat, as they prefer. Secondly, it’s easier to just flip one thing on the grill than to constantly have to flip tons of legs or breasts. Estimate about ¼ of a chicken per person or, if you have a lot of sides, ⅛ per person.
  3. Pork Spare Ribs. Ribs are great for so many reasons. Firstly, you can precook them so that they’re almost totally done before they even hit the grill. And that can be done up to 2-3 days beforehand. So that’s a total win. Secondly, they’re handheld, which is always good when kids are around. Estimate at least 2-3 ribs per person, and 1-2 ribs for kids.
  4. Boneless Beef Short Ribs. Newsflash! You don’t have to always braise your short ribs! You can *grill* them, just as long as you promise not to overcook them. However, there are a couple things to know before you do it. For me, I prefer boneless short ribs for grilling to be cross cut, meaning they’re not cut into those little cubes that we often braise, but cut into long rectangles between 2-3” thick. You also want to trim some of the fat off the surface so as not to cause flares on the grill. If possible, have your butcher give you ribs from the cross section of the beef. They’re just meatier. Finally and most importantly, make sure that any of the connective tissue that connected the bone to the meat is cleaned off. It’s tough and will not soften on the grill. Allow ½ lb per person.
  5. Pork Top Sirloin Steaks. Pork top sirloin steaks are a butcher’s secret. We love them and for good reason: they’re more economical than pork chops and they stay way more moist when you cook them on the grill. They have a darker more tender section of meat than the chop, and more intramuscular fat. Win, win, double win. Allow ½ lb per person.

Okay, so, now that you know what to get to feed your friends, get out there and start planning your BBQs. Don’t forget that I don’t have a grill and I have access to all of these cuts so….I’m just saying, think about it ;)