Stepping Out

Al fresco-style entertaining

Savor the season with a tasty summer bash


There are few better ways to celebrate the summer season than by firing up the grill. Invite some of your pals over and make the most of this short-lived season.

The perfect party, regardless of the number of guests, requires proper preparation, attention to detail and a few handy tricks around the grill to serve up delicious options for all in attendance. However, hosting a great get-together doesn’t have to be complicated.

To up your grilling game this summer, try these tips from Chef Rick Bayless.

Get to know the fire

When grilling for a party, planning ahead is key, according to Bayless. It can be helpful to know the hot spots of the grill and the distance from grates to flame.

Keep it simple

Bayless recommends a simple menu that features tried and true flavor profiles nearly everyone loves. For appetizers, he suggests grilling vegetables and adding them to guacamole with bacon. Pair with wedges of grilled pita for dipping, which is an unexpected alternative to typical chips.

For a main entree,he suggests making meat the star and serving up ribeye steaks marinated in garlic, chilies and fresh lime juice.

Rick Bayless’ Brava Steak

6 large garlic cloves, unpeeled

4 fresh serrano or 2 fresh jalapeno chiles, stemmed

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons tablespoons vegetable or olive oil, plus more for the steaks


6 ribeye steaks about 1-inch thick (they’ll weigh about 10 to 12 ounces each)

Salsa Huevona (Lazy Salsa) for serving

In a small ungreased skillet, roast the unpeeled garlic and the chiles over medium heat, turning occasionally, until both are soft and blotchy black in places — 5 to 10 minutes for the chiles, 10 to 15 minutes for the garlic. Cool, then peel the garlic. Place both garlic and chiles in a food processor along with the lime juice and oil. Run the machine until the mixture is as smoothly pureed as possible. Season highly with salt, usually about 1 1/2 teaspoons.

Smear the mixture over both sides of the steaks, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Heat the grill on medium-high. Spray or brush the steaks on both sides with a little oil. Lay on the grill grates and let cook for 3 or 4 minutes, until the grates have nicely seared beautiful grill marks into the meat; don’t attempt to move the steaks until you can see nice grill marks. Flip the steaks and cook until as done as you like (typically about 2 to 3 minutes longer for medium rare). Bayless likes to let the steaks rest for a few minutes (on a cool part of the grill, a grate suspended over the back of the grill or a very low oven) before serving to allow the meat to reabsorb all the juices. Serve with Lazy Salsa or another salsa or hot sauce of your liking.

Lazy Salsa

4 medium-small red ripe round tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1 medium white onion, cut in half

3 or 4 jalapenos, stemmed

4 garlic cloves


Heat the grill on medium-high. Cut the onion into 1/2-inch slices, keeping them intact. Gather together the tomatoes, green chiles, garlic cloves, and onion slices and lay everything on the hot grill. (To keep the garlic from dropping through and to make cleanup easy, lay one of those perforated grill pans on the grill grates, heat it up, then lay on the vegetables.)

Grill the ingredients, turning occasionally, until they are well charred — about 10 minutes for the garlic, 15 minutes for the chiles and 20 minutes for the tomatoes and onions. As they are done remove the ingredients to a rimmed baking sheet. Let cool. Peel the garlic. If you wish, you can pull the charred skins off the tomatoes.

When vegetables are cool enough to handle, peel the garlic. De-stem and coarsely chop the jalapeños. In a food processor, combine the garlic and chiles and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the tomatoes and pulse until roughly chopped; transfer to a serving bowl and season with about 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Coarsely chop the charred onion by hand and stir into the tomato mixture, along with about 2 tablespoons of water to give the salsa an easily spoonable consistency. Taste, and add salt if necessary before serving.