Our Fourth of July Cookout


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We held a cookout for the Fourth of July for a number of reasons.  I actually had a holiday off from the Rocksino.  I was in the mood to do a large amount of grilling.  I didn’t want to waste a holiday off running to other people’s houses.  Take your pick of the reason that makes me sound less like an antisocial guy.

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Breaking out the toys for the Fourth of July

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I went all out.  I even created an event on Facebook inviting friends and relatives a few weeks in advance.  I think that is what surprised people the most – I didn’t leave the inviting to my wife.

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At first, we wanted to make hamburgers.  We decided against hamburgers.  Even though my hamburgers on the grill are life changing, they are an awful lot of prep work when you don’t know how many are going to show.

Another thought was chicken quarters (you know the leg and thigh.)  That idea got nixed when it was decided we could fit more of a smaller chicken part into the smoker. Not wings. I like wings at a bar, but at home, the meat to bone ratio isn’t that great, especially considering the amount of room they take up on the grill and smoker.

Final decision: a Brat Tub Time Machine on the Weber kettle, and chicken legs on the smoker.

The only other component was beer. I went with two choices: Budweiser to use for grilling, and Yuengling to drink while grilling.

The Fourth of July came. People were due around 3 p.m. . A little before noon, I got the mighty MasterBuilt plugged in and started warming it to temp. I also started a chimney of charcoal for the Weber kettle.

Back into the house to prep the food. I had about three dozen chicken legs. I laid them on a baking sheet and gave them a good dusting with Penzey’s Galena Street Chicken and Rib rub on all sides. Not exactly a traditional BBQ rub, but I like it. I took the legs out to the smoker and poured a can of Bud into the water pan.  After loading the legs on the grids, I threw a handful of cherry wood chips into the smoke chamber and let the MasterBuilt do its thing, adding more cherry chips every half hour or so.

The charcoal was just about ready to go, so it was time to assemble the brat tub. I spiralized two yellow onions and threw them into a disposable aluminum pan with a stick of butter, unsalted, of course. REAL butter – it was the Fourth of July, dammit! I poured the coals into half of the kettle, and place the pan on the indirect side. Half a gallon of Budweiser later, I added brats, kielbasa links, and hot dogs after the beer came to a simmer. Place the lid and wait for everything to get done and company to arrive.

REAL butter – it was the Fourth of July, dammit!

As 3 p.m. closed in, I took the sausages out and placed them over the direct heat to get some color and char, then back into the tub to stay hot. I grilled some hot dogs straight up for the kids.

The temp probe on the MasterBuilt indicated the chicken legs were done. I placed them in a covered roaster to keep warm. The legs were pretty tasty, and had a nice bite through. I pulled the sausages just as company was showing up. I made sure to get as many onions as I could  with the sausages because buttery drunk onions are delicious.

I impressed myself with how well I timed the cook to match the arrival of company.

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Brattub Time Machine

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…because buttery drunk onions are delicious.

I got a lot of compliments on the chicken. I liked it, but to me, it didn’t taste like barbecue. Next time, I might try adding Hickory in with the cherry wood.

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Funny thing about our cookouts: people bring lots of sides, dips, and desserts, in addition to what we have. So much so, even after a couple of trips through the buffet line, it looks like there is an awful lot of food left. Company gets to talking, maybe a few go back to get a little something more to eat. There still looks like a ton of food left.

Then, as people decide it’s time to get going, the Tupperware comes out. Plates are fixed for later that night or the next day at home. After the last person leaves, it finally looks like people ate. Good thing, too, because our fridge doesn’t have enough room to store what was left earlier.


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