The MUNCHIES Guide to Throwing a Memorial Day Cookout
Behold, our guide to throwing the best and baddest cookout of your life.
All photos by Brayden Olson.
Cookouts don't need much of an introduction. You invite over a bunch of your best and party-hardiest friends, drink many bottles of booze, char some animals (and maybe even vegetables) over open flames, and fight the temptation to pass out fat and happy in the sun.
We're not trying to complicate that time-honored ritual, but we recognize that some people might need some guidance on hosting a proper Memorial Day bash. Behold, our guide to throwing the best and baddest cookout of your life.
First and foremost, you and your guests need a drink. Yes, shitty American beer served from an inflatable kiddie pool filled with ice is a cookout staple for many, but we assume that you're reading this because you want to up your game a little.
May we suggest this New Orleans-style pink daiquiri? It tastes like a backyard barbecue in a glass (watermelon meets lots of rum) and it's blended into a sippable slushie that you can slowly nurse while the meat starts to hit the grill.
Even fancier, you say? Try these two from Isaac and Amanda Toups: Poppy's I.V. blends strawberry puree with gin and St. Germain, with hints of cucumber and rosemary; the Cajun Luau was inspired by Hawaiian pizza, with its mix of rum, ginger liqueur, and pineapple juice, and bacon garnish.
Next, you'll want to prepare some side dishes. Grilled corn's a no-brainer, so we have a super-simple recipe right here. But plain ol' corn on the cob can get boring, so you could mix it up by making some classic elote, topped with mayo, cotija cheese, chile powder, and lime juice.
And if you want to live like Mr. Wonderful, you have to make Action Bronson's kick-ass golden beet poke—which, we might add, gives the fish-filled original a run for its money. Both the vegans and the carnivores at your party will devour this in an instant.
Now, on to salad. We don't mean the fussy, greens-based kind. These are salads for gluttons.
This Italian pasta salad, for example, is basically a pizza in a bowl: filled with pepperoni, mozzarella, olives, and more. You'll also want some classic potato salad—just like Mom used to make—with dill pickles, hard-boiled eggs, mustard, and some other pungent aromatics that'll make you think twice about making out with your neighbor at the end of the night.
But if you're really in the mood for some vegetation, we've got you covered. We've got a grilled zucchini and white bean salad. We've got a fresh Carolina cucumber salad. We've got a schmancy-sounding Arménienne salad, which is really just cucumbers and lettuce dressed with a fuck-ton of good olive oil and Aleppo pepper.
But our personal favorite is this crunchy coleslaw, which is like an edible time-warp to the 90s when you ate Chinese chicken salad that your mother ripped from the pages of Sunset. This one nixes the chicken but retains the cabbage, toasted almonds, and ramen noodles tossed with a vinegary dressing.
And now onto the main event. We've got tons of options for you and your hungry guests. First, of course, is Matty Matheson's perfect cheeseburgers. We don't need to say much about that, because they're fucking perfect.
If the vegetarians want to hop on the burger train, we've got a great, blood-red version from Cara Nicoletti that blends beets with lentils, mushrooms, and ground nuts. This isn't some rubbery frozen patty. This is a meal and then some.
Oh, did you think we were done? Not even close.
You'll want some big proteins for a proper cookout. The easiest (and probably healthiest) option is Fiona's green chicken, an herby and slightly tangy dish that comes courtesy of Nom Nom Paleo.
After that, throw a few more coals on the fire for this grilled rib-eye steak, which requires nothing more than a premium cut of beef and a sprinkle of salt and pepper before it hits the grates.
Then you'll want ribs. We've got ribs for days, fam. We've got Pinoy-style ribs that have been slathered with banana ketchup and white wine. We've got Asian barbecue ribs that have been slicked with hoisin sauce and topped with cilantro and scallions.
We've got back alley ribs—once again from our boy Matty Matheson—that are mopped with pomegranate barbecue sauce and sprinkled with freshly made dukkah. And we've even got some classic dry-rub oven ribs, just in case your backyard party gets rained out.
Are you dead yet? Or are you just barely awake, drunk on rib fat and rum?
Time for dessert, friends. If you've planned well enough in advance, you'll be ready to serve this lemon blueberry chess pie, which tastes like a dream encased in a buttery, flaky dough.
But you're more than likely to be tired as all get-out at this point, so here's our go-to solution: fresh strawberries topped with whipped cream and toasted macadamia nuts. Nobody will know—or care—that it only took you two minutes to prepare, because you just demolished Memorial Day in the best way possible.