Has summer flown, or what? It's hard to believe that it's almost August. For most, there's one official month left of summer, and Rhapsody is going to give you all the tools necessary to throw one helluva barbecue party!
Zac Brown really summed up the feeling of a summer barbecue party in his song "Chicken Fried." To paraphrase, he likes his chicken fried, his drinks cold and the radio on. We are forgoing the fried dishes in favor of grilling ideas, but we give a thumbs up to the rest of it.
Drinks? We can make them! Barbecue and grilling ideas? We got 'em! The best country summer songs? Oh hell yeah! Celebrities? What do you think, rookie! Of course we've enlisted some of our friends in country music to give us their very best recipes to help make an unforgettable summer barbecue party. We've got main dishes -- also known as meat -- a ton of side dishes and even a cake recipe that will have you licking your lips. Do we rock, or what?
Little Big Town: Margarita Punch
1 can frozen limeade
Tequila (to taste)
1 (or 2) bottle of Blue Moon Beer
1 can of Fresca
Directions: Combine all the ingredients and stir/blend. The beauty of this drink is that it doesn't have to be made in a blender, so it's perfect for an outside event. The limeade adds a frozen thickness to the drink and gives it a margarita-like texture.
A few members of the Rhapsody staff tried Little Big Town's punch when the band was in town for the Country Throwdown tour and have experienced firsthand the potency of this toxic concoction. These days the band might be singing about "Little White Churches," but too much of this delicious elixir and you will find yourself "Down in the Boondocks" with no memory of getting there! Enjoy with caution!
Heidi Newfield: Peach Delight
1 part Bacardi Peach
4 parts Diet Sprite
Directions: Put the Bacardi in a blender with ice and fresh-cut peaches. Add the Diet Sprite and blend.
"I always start grilling by thinking what my favorite summertime adult beverage is, and this year I have a new one. It is a great and pretty low-calorie drink to start grilling with," says Newfield.
We like her idea of starting of the grilling chores with a refreshing drink. It just seems to click perfectly; kind of like "Johnny and June." This drink is the perfect combination of invigorating refreshment plus a little kick. Adding fresh peaches ups the delicious factor and makes us want to whip this one up -- even if we don't have a barbecue party planned!
Troy Olsen: Arizona Sunset Drink
Vodka (to taste)
Splash of cranberry juice
Directions: Combine ingredients and blend 'til smooth. Before you mix, this drink looks like an Arizona sunset.
Vodka, orange juice and cranberry juice -- very simple ingredients to make this thirst-quenching, alcoholic drink! Super easy, and super refreshing. We prefer adding lots of ice to give this cup of deliciousness an orange slush texture. But this is not for kids!
OK. Now that we've got you sufficiently "hydrated," let's get down to some cooking.
Zac Brown Band: Boursin-Stuffed Filet
4 8-oz. beef tenderloins (center cut)
12 oz. Boursin cheese
1/4 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
4 slices pepper-crusted bacon
4 small bamboo skewers (soaked in water ahead of time)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Directions: Mix the bread crumbs into the Boursin cheese. This will ensure the cheese doesn't melt when the filet is heated on the grill. With a knife, slice a pocket in the tenderloins, from side to side. Stuff the pocket with the cheese mixture.
When the filets are stuffed, wrap them with bacon and stick a soaked skewer through each to hold the bacon on while cooking. Rub them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on the grill to cook. Cook for 15 minutes for a medium-rare filet.
As a former chef, food has been Zac's passion for a very long time. As a musician, Zac and his bandmates parlay their love for food into a way to get to know their fans. How? At shows, Zac and company eschew the traditional "meet and greets" for "eat and greets" -- a tailgate party of sorts where fans get to meet the band over some barbecue, cooked by the band members and their esteemed Chef Rusty. You can buy Zac's awesome cookbook, Southern Ground, here!
Trailer Choir: Tailgate BBQ Beer Butt Chicken
1 Tb. brown sugar
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. savory or oregano
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 Tb. ground sea salt
1 tsp. dry yellow mustard
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
2 Tb. olive oil
2 Tb. balsamic vinegar
6 oz. warm beer
Notes: Cook a large, 4-5 pound chicken with indirect heat (don't burn your bird's butt!) on a charcoal or gas grill.
Cooking time 1 1/4- 2 hours.
Use a grill with lid large enough to cook a chicken standing upright.
Directions: Mix the rub in a small bowl until it's well combined. Wash, dry and season the chicken inside and out with the rub -- give that bird a good rubbin'! Work the mixture well into the skin and under the skin wherever possible. We encourage inappropriate touching of the bird here! Place in a medium bowl, cover and set aside at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.
Open a 12-oz. can of your favorite beer; you only need about 6 oz., so we say drink half the contents. Add the cider, olive oil, vinegar and set aside. Take the beer can in one hand and insert it directly into the hiney of the bird! Yeah, we said it!!
(The beverage can and the bird's legs can create a pedestal so the bird can stand upright.)
We also like to add Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, minced garlic, onions, etc. to the beer for a little extra kick. You can also use fruit juices, colas or wine instead of beer -- but really, why would you?
Place the chicken and beer can on the grill over indirect heat -- again, don't burn that butt! To prevent flare-ups on the grill, place the rack into a disposable aluminum pie pan and add 1/4 cup of water.
Baste chicken with basting sauce about every 20 minutes.
Finish your bird with a final brush of basting sauce, grab another six-pack and enjoy your "Tailgate" party with our new Tailgate CD and a few friends. Holla!
What is it about sticking a can up a chicken's butt that makes it so moist and delicious? We have no idea, but this truly is some remarkably tasty chicken! I think the 12-oz. can is key, because it is longer so the chicken stays upright more during cooking. Look, I am not Paula Deen -- I have no idea how it works. I just know that in the end, it tastes gooooood.
CMT's Evan Farmer: Son-In-Law Salad
4 ears of fresh corn, shucked and grilled
1 cucumber, chopped
Tops of 1 bunch of scallions, chopped
1/2 sweet white onion, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 can of black-eyed peas (washed and drained)
1 can of green peas (washed and drained)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 box cherry tomatoes (slice tomatoes in half)
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (sliced or cubed)
1/2 cup Vivienne's or other Romano cheese dressing
15 cubes of pepper jack cheese
Creole or Cajun seasoning of your choice
Directions: Spray canola or olive oil on each side of each chicken breast and coat them with your favorite Creole or Cajun rub. Grill at approximately 325-350 degrees until thoroughly cooked and set aside to rest for 20 minutes before cutting into cubes or strips (this helps maintain the juiciness).
Slice the kernels off the ears of corn. In a large bowl, combine the corn kernels, cucumber, scallion tops, onions, black-eyed peas, green peas, chopped cilantro, cherry tomatoes, cheese and dressing.
Once everything is thoroughly tossed together, season with salt and pepper to taste.
Top with sliced chicken and refrigerate for 2 hours to let all the flavors marry and intensify. Then ... dive into the best summer salad ever known to man. Enjoy!
Do you see this salad? It makes us drool every time we look at it! Randy Smith, Evan's father-in-law, was the originator of this delicious dish, and he was nice enough to pass it on to Evan -- we thank them both for passing it on to us. As the host of CMT's Top 20 Countdown, Farmer meets his fair share of A-list celebs, but this salad steals the spotlight.
Zac Brown Band: Blue Ridge Mountain Cornbread
2 1/4 cups cornmeal, plus a little extra for the pan
1 1/2 Tb. baking powder
3/4tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 dash black pepper
1 cups buttermilk
2 2-3 Tb. bacon drippings
Directions: Preheat oven to 450. Prepare skillet by coating it with the bacon drippings and warming it up in the preheated oven.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix well. Add 3/4 of the buttermilk and stir.
Remove skillet from oven. Slowly drizzle about 1 Tb. of the bacon grease from the skillet into the batter and stir well. Add the remainder of the buttermilk while stirring. Lightly sprinkle skillet bottom with dry cornmeal and then pour in the batter. Bake for approximately 40 minutes. Watch the cornbread after about 20 minutes and cook until the top is golden brown.
We've already extolled the virtues of bacon, but who knew adding a little of its drippings to a cornbread recipe would have such delicious results! Moist yet crumbly, this cornbread is sure to be a hit with your guests.
Rhapsody's advice: don't waste a morsel of this yummy cornbread on your drunk guests -- they won't remember it in the morning. Heck, they won't remember it in an hour!
Allison DeMarcus (CMT's Insider): Uncle Chambers' To-Die-For Baked Beans
1 can VanCamp's Pork and Beans, drained
1/2 box of dark brown sugar
1 squirt of yellow mustard
Pace Picante Sauce
2-3 slices of bacon
Directions: Mix beans, sugar and mustard in a bowl. Add Pace Picante Sauce. Do NOT use salsa! It has to be the picante sauce and I would suggest you use the hot if you can handle it.Once mixed, pour into an 8" round or 9"x12" Pyrex dish. Break up already-cooked bacon and sprinkle on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
These will be the best beans you've ever had in your life! Uncle Chambers and I guarantee it!
Allison is one smart lady because -- and we can't emphasize this enough -- bacon + pretty much anything = goodness. Thank you, Uncle Chambers, for letting her share your recipe with us!
Katie Cook (Host, CMT Insider): Greek Pasta Salad
1 lb. tri-color rotini
1 cup sliced black olives
1 red bell pepper (chopped)
2 stalks of green onion (chopped)
1/2 cucumber (cut into small squares)
1 cup feta cheese (crumbled)
10 cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 cup Italian dressing
Pinch of salt and pepper
Directions: Cook pasta al dente and let cool. Add remaining ingredients and toss lightly. Cover and let chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Before serving add a little more dressing and toss again.
This dish is light, yet substantial -- perfect for those days when extreme summer heat makes it uncomfortable to eat a heavier meal. As a Nashville native (and daughter of acclaimed songwriter Roger Cook), we bet Katie Cook has seen her fair share of those kinds of sultry summer nights. We experience the stickiness each and every June when the CMA Music Fest and the CMT Music Awards roll around.
Luke Bryan: Big Mama's Milky Way Cake
3/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup buttermilk
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 (additional) cup of buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 package confectioners' sugar (4 cups )
1 1/2 sticks of butter
3 Tb. cocoa powder (heaping)
4 1 cup chopped pecans
1 can Carnation condensed milk
Cake: In a bowl, combine in all the dry ingredients and stir to combine thoroughly. In another bowl, cream the butter and slowly incorporate the dry ingredients. Add buttermilk to the mix to keep moist. Once these are all combined, add the 3 eggs, the additional cup of buttermilk and the vanilla. Pour into three cake pans. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.
Frosting: Whip butter in a large bowl. Slowly fold in the powder sugar and cocoa. Incorporate the condensed milk a little at a time, just enough to make the frosting spreadable. Once frosting is made, fold in the nuts and stir.