Are you looking for some fun, last minute ideas to kick off the barbecue season this Memorial Day? If your grilling menu for today is not yet set, then consider making some barbecue classics in miniature sizes that are big on taste. Little kids love finger foods and will enjoy helping put together a barbecue that is just their size.
You can put a playful spin on food for this Memorial day and cook up mini-me versions of the classic grilling trilogy –- hot dogs, hamburgers, and barbecued chicken -- in the form of cocktail franks, sliders, and drumettes. These smaller versions of the originals are sized just right for little hands to pick up, and are fun for the whole family!
Sliders, otherwise know as two bite burgers, are all the rage right now. You can find them on even the fanciest restaurant menus. Pre-made versions of various types like beef, salmon, or turkey are also available in many grocers’ meat case (at hugely marked up prices!).
It’s just as easy to make your own sliders at home. Just follow your favorite burger recipe, but when forming the patties, use a golf ball sized amount of meat, and make a small indentation with your thumb in the center of the patty. Sliders just take few minutes on the grill, or you can steam cook them on a hot griddle, the traditional way.
Purchase smaller slider buns or cut soft dinner rolls in half. You can serve them up with all the traditional condiments but for a fun twist, add a side of matching tiny sweet gherkin pickles. Even if you are an advance planner and have all the burgers formed and ready to grill today, you can still rework some of them into smaller sizes for the kids, if you would like to make this last minute change.
For the grown ups (or if your kids have grown up tastes), you can try blue cheese stuffed sliders. For the kiddies, you can use grated cheddar, Havarti, American or any other type of cheese that they like. The recipe below comes from my brother, a huge grilling aficionado. He serves these big stuffed burgers at almost every summer barbecue, and I have adapted them here to be a smaller sized version.
Miniature sized hot dogs, usually reserved for the crockpot or stuffing inside crescent rolls, a la pigs in a blanket, can also be thrown on the barbie. All you need is a grilling basket, or you can thread them onto skewers like kebobs so they don’t fall through the cracks. Serve mini hot dogs in sliced small dinner rolls, or they’re good enough to eat on their own as an appetizer.
Another fun miniaturized version of a barbecue favorite is grilled chicken drumettes. For these fun sized, faux chicken drumsticks, you can purchase pre-cut chicken wings, called drumettes. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can make your own chicken “lollipops” that look even more like mini drumsticks. With a paring knife, cut around the thin tip of each chicken drummette. Separate the skin and tendons attached to the narrow end of the drummette and push the meat down toward the thick end to shape like a “lollipop.”
Glaze with your favorite homemade or commercial barbecue sauce and grill over medium high heat, turning often for 20-25 minutes, reglazing five minutes before they are finished, until the internal temperature of the wings reached a minimum of 165 degrees F.
As we pause to think of those who have served our country, remember that bigger is not always necessarily better in the world of grilling. These are small ideas that the little ones in your group will surely appreciate and will satisfy your family’s barbecue cravings for Memorial Day and beyond.
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