I love BBQ food. I love barbecues in general. I will literally take any chance I am given to consume grilled meats. Fourth of July is one of the great American holidays, where we’re encouraged to recklessly fuck around with colorful explosives, consume dozens of beers, and absolutely gorge ourselves on grilled meats.
We’re in an unsure time, though. Some of you may be headed to a BBQ this weekend, maybe there’s only about a dozen people, maybe there’s more. People are eager to get together, but the social aspects of this pandemic are complicating things. This is why, for the first time, I’m bringing you the definitive power rankings of Fourth of July eats, so that you can nimbly navigate the noms tables while keeping a safe social distance from other human beings. Let’s go.
10.) Potato Salad/Pasta Salad/Whatever Weird Mayo-Based Shit You Like
Let me be absolutely crystal clear. This is on here solely as a formality. I don’t like potato salad, pasta salad, hell – I rarely ever eat my side salads at restaurants. I will never understand mayo-based salad people, and that’s just something you’re gonna have to live with. You’re lucky its on the list at all, but I consider myself a fair and benevolent journalist.
9.) Chicken Wings
You might be asking yourself – for all this guy talks about wings, how is this holding down the 9 slot? And friends, that’s because you can’t always trust BBQ chicken wings. The results are just too inconsistent, so when I’m at someone’s BBQ that I don’t know super well – let’s say its a family friend or a friend’s family – I usually save these for last, if at all. When done right, though, you can’t lose here.
8.) Chicken Kebabs
Kebabs, however, are less easy to fuck up. The onions and peppers are gonna do a lot of the heavy lifting here, so at the end of the day you’re much less likely to notice if the chicken part of the kebab is absolutely swaggerless. Also, there’s less mess involved with kebabs, meaning you can drink a beer while you eat. Veteran BBQ-goers/boozehounds may even do both during a game of Kan Jam, if they’re feeling extra frisky.
7.) BBQ Ribs (Standard)
Yes, this is on the list twice, and no – neither time is a mistake. The 7 slot is for your average, everyday ribs. The person might have baked them in the oven, and thrown them on the grill afterwards. Maybe there isn’t enough sauce, maybe they’re just slightly overcooked, but hey – they’re ribs. They’re still good, and you’re still gonna eat them.
6.) Steak Tips
This should be higher, but it falls victim to two key factors: the fact that they’re relatively unheard of anywhere outside of New England, and that – just like ribs and chicken wings – your experience may vary GREATLY depending on who’s at the grill. Most steak tips that I’ve had at BBQs NOT hosted by myself or a trustworthy friend were medium well or well done, and are always charred black. They’re usually dry and cold by the time you get there, and sitting in a tinfoil tray covered up just waiting to be pawned off to be taken home by anybody leaving early. Steak Tips are one of God’s greatest gifts to this earth, but if you’re at a BBQ – you can do better.
5.) BBQ Ribs (The Person Actually Knows What They’re Fucking Doing)
This is that shit though. The real McCoy. You know the vibes. You roll up to a mutual friends’ place, and pow – they’ve got a smoker in their backyard. You can smell the meat falling off the bone from the other end of the street which you’re forced to park on because there’s 900 cars between you and BBQ’d glory. This is the rib recipe that makes you hug a complete stranger, the type that tastes like the first time you heard the Beatles. This is perfection, and you’re lucky to have the chef responsible for them in your life.
You can’t beat a good burger. You just can’t. They’re the great equalizer. When you get a perfect one off the grill (Chris P. has a perfect technique for this), it’s orgasmic. And later on, when you’re 26 Bud Smooths deep and 3-8 in Kan Jam? You just shovel one of the dry burnt burgers left in the tin and are none the wiser. Don’t get fancy with me either. Bun. Ketchup. Beef. Boom.
3.) Sausages (Preferably with Peppers, and Onions)
Sausages. My lord. A couple Italian sweets and Italian hots? Saddle the fuck up folks cause we’re taking the short trail right on down to Flavortown (word to my Italian uncle Guy Fieri). You see those perfect grillmarks coming right off the grill, you bite into it and get the perfect snap, the little spicy pepper flecks and minced garlic cloves are dancing Tarantella on your taste buds. Absolute heaven. I need one right now.
2.) Grilled Corn
If you’re surprised to see Grilled Corn this high on the list, or even on this list at all – then you need to get your head checked, and then get yourself some good grilled corn. This is summertime, manifested, compressed into tiny yellow legos on a cylinder of glory. Sweet, crunchy, smoky, slightly charred, and then absolutely drenched in butter. I feel like I’m literally typing erotic fiction here, but this ain’t fiction baby – this is real life. Grilled corn. Goddamn.
1.) Hot Dogs
Much like America, hot dogs are pretty questionable at times, and you DEFINITELY don’t want to know what goes into making them. They are the GOAT nonetheless. They’re versatile, you can put anything on them (but get anything that isn’t mustard away from me), and they have a nationally televised sporting event every Fourth of July weekend dedicated to the consumption of them. Not a single other thing on this list has that. Hot dogs are a food, a sport, a symbol, and a sure sign of summer. Everything else on this list can be royally screwed up, but even the worst hot dog you’ve ever had is still better than most average-to-bad renditions of anything else on this list. This is not up for debate. Hot dogs are numero uno.
There you have it folks. The DEFINITIVE Fourth of July Weekend Food Power Rankings (2020 Edition, Unabridged). Please be safe at your BBQs this weekend, stay distant if you can, and wear a mask if you can’t. Be good to each other, and yourselves, and have a hot dog and a cold one for your boy Papa Dom when you’re at the function tomorrow. Be blessed.