Five Delicious Meals for Backyard Cookery

Here are five delicious meal plans from 1948 for fans of outdoor dining:

Collection of food items on a barbeque grill
(Photo by Johnson Sarra)

Cook It Outdoors

By Sara Hervey

Originally published in The Country Gentleman, September 1, 1948

Cooking at an outdoor grill is fun for the entire family. Everyone will want to lend a hand, but keep the menus simple, the preparation easy. One thing you can always be sure of — appetites will be enormous. So, no matter how simple the food, have plenty.

First in the heart of any outdoor chef is broiled steak, and when its natural flavor is enhanced by wood smoke, what could be better?

Outdoor Chef’s Special

Grilling Steaks … Even though each [chef] may have a different thought on seasonings or sauces, most all will agree that a steak, to be worthy of the name, should be cut at least 1 1/2 inches thick. Over hot coals a steak of this thickness will need about 10 minutes to be cooked rare, 15 minutes for medium, and 20 for well-done.

The steaks shown in the photograph measured 3 inches by the ruler. They were cooked 35 minutes to reach the medium-rare stage. We scored the fat along the edges to prevent curling, and brushed the meat with butter before cooking. The seasoning took place when the steaks were turned. To serve our ravenous crew, we removed the steaks to a wooden cutting board, and carved off 3/4-inch vertical slices

On the fancier side of outdoor cooking comes this menu suggestion featuring barbecued spareribs. Here the chef has a chance to cut some real culinary capers, and you can be sure the audience will be appreciative.

Supper from the Barbecue Grill

Barbecue Spare Ribs … Better allow at least 1 pound of spare ribs for each person, and have them cracked into serving portions. Brush with your favorite barbecue sauce, and broil over a rather slow fire for 10 to 12 minutes on each side, or until the ribs are crisp and browned. They should be basted frequently with additional sauce as they cook.

Sauerkraut … Just right with barbecued spareribs is sauerkraut, saucily seasoned with chopped onion and bits of chopped cooked bacon.

Horseradish Applesauce … Try adding freshly grated horseradish to your applesauce for an extra taste teaser. Half a cup of horseradish to 2 cups of applesauce are the proportions.

Long a favorite of outdoor-cookery fans are kabobs — small pieces of food impaled alternately on green sticks or metal skewers.

Cook Your Own

Kabobs … The combinations of foods which may be used are almost endless. Some of the most popular include

Cubes of lamb marinated in olive oil and garlic, small white onions, and tomatoes. The meat should be cut into cubes of about an inch. The procedure is for each person to fill their stick to whatever length their appetite may indicate. Then, squatting before the fire, each person broils their kabob over the coals, making sure to turn it frequently for even cooking. Most combinations will be cooked in 15 to 20 minutes

Skillet Peach Cobbler … Have biscuit mix prepared ahead. Add 1/3 cup of milk or water to 1 cup of the biscuit mix to make a soft dough. Mix well and spread in a well-greased heavy skillet. Arrange 2 1/2 cups of fresh sliced peaches (or 1 No. 2 can of sliced peaches) over the dough. Sprinkle a mixture of 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons of biscuit mix over the peaches.

Cover tightly and cook over a rather slow fire 25 minutes or until done. Serve while still warm. This recipe makes enough for 6 generous servings.

Pizza (pronounced peet-sa) is another old stand-by for picnics. Biscuit mix is again the foundation for this temptingly seasoned concoction. Pizza is so good, you won’t need much else to round out the menu.

Camper’s Choice

Campfire Pizza … Add 2/3 cup of milk or water to 1 1/2 cups of prepared biscuit mix, and beat 1 minute. Spread in a well-greased 10-inch skillet. Cover with 1 cup of cooked tomatoes, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of cubed American cheese, 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, and 1/4 cup of salad oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Cover and cook over a rather slow fire 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly browned on the underside, and the cheese is melted. Cut into pie-shaped pieces for serving. Serve while still hot to 6 hungry campers.

When you’re in the mood to do your eating alfresco without aid of an outdoor grill, prepare picnic meat pies. They may be wrapped individually in waxed paper and carried to your favorite picnic spot.

Backyard Alfresco

Picnic Meat Pies … Sift together 2 cups of sifted flour, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cut in 1/4 cup of shortening. Add 2/3 to 3/4 cup of milk to make a soft dough. Turn out on a lightly floured board and knead gently 1/2 minute. Roll out 4-inch thick into a rectangular sheet, 12 by 16 inches. Cut 16 rectangles, 3 by 4 inches.

Mix together 1 cup of ground cooked meat, 1/4 cup of chili sauce, 1 teaspoon of prepared mustard, 1 tablespoon of grated onion, and 2 tablespoons of water. Place 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture on each of 8 rectangles. Top with remaining rectangles. Crimp edges together and bake on an ungreased baking sheet in a hot oven (450° F) 12 to 15 minutes. Makes 8 meat pies.

Hawaiian Baked Beans … Along with the meat pies, we’re suggesting that you take individual casseroles of Hawaiian baked beans. The Hawaiian feature is achieved by adding several cubes of pineapple to the canned beans, and drizzling a tablespoon of honey over the top of each casserole. The beans are then heated in a hot oven (400° F) for about 25 minutes.