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How to host the perfect summer BBQ with The Meat Hook’s Sunny Sanchez

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It’s summer in New York City. If you haven’t attended a cookout or an outdoor potluck yet, chances are you will have before Labor Day Weekend. Whether you’re hosting a barbecue in Fort Greene Park or simply taking advantage of a friend’s coveted outdoor space, Clinton Hill is the ultimate resource for entertaining in the summer.

With the help of Brooklyn butcher and cheesemonger Sunny Sanchez, here’s a guide to planning an ideal menu for almost any summer gathering.

summer farmers

Photo credit: @zachspassport

Cherished by the neighborhood, the Fort Greene Farmers Market is teeming with inspirational produce. In-season tomatoes are irresistible and deserve the spotlight. Allow them to shine in a simple salad like this one from Hart’s, a Bed-Stuy favorite and darling of the Bon Appetit staff.

summer harts

Photo credit: @hartsbrooklyn

On those especially humid days, mayo-based salads aren’t the best call. This anchovy-heavy salad from Fancy Nancy on Bedford looks easy enough to emulate, but consider your guests. You might want to have some mints on hand…

summer salad

Photo credit: @fancynancybk

Before you leave the market, think about dessert. “Grilled peaches are always lovely,” says Sanchez. “Drizzled with honey and topped with ice cream, or just olive oil, salt, and freshly chopped mint.”

Should you find yourself responsible for providing a protein for a cookout, Sanchez recommends a bone-in pork shoulder or a spatchcocked chicken for the grill. While hot dogs and hamburgers are economical and reliable staples, Sanchez explains that both pork shoulder and chicken are also easy to grill. 

“Spatchcocking a chicken allows the chicken to cook evenly and quickly,” says Sanchez. “I would definitely recommend salting your shoulder chop and chicken ahead of time though, as early as the night before. This will ensure it’s seasoned perfectly throughout.”

summer meat

Photo credit: @themeathook

When she’s not making sausages and charcuterie or butchering whole animals for The Meat Hook in Williamsburg, Sanchez is also the shop’s resident cheesemonger. A pro at assembling cheese boards for any crowd (including Ted Allen!), Sanchez emphasizes freshness for a summer charcuterie spread. 

“I adore all cheese at all times of the year, but people tend to lean more toward fresh cheeses like mozzarella and burrata in the summertime. Marinated feta is also great. I love to pile on tons of bright, crunchy fresh veggies too — it’s a nice refreshing complement to a good cheese board.” 

What meats belong on a summer spread? Sanchez’ answer: “Chicken liver mousse and a good cured ham are my go-to’s.”

summer cheese

Have the luxury of enjoying your meats and cheese in central air? Want to offer a more timeless spread? Consider at least one crowd-pleaser, like the Brie Fermier. “It’s a classic, sumptuous, mushroomy brie,” says Sanchez. “So savory and delicious.” 

You can find the Brie Fermier at Mekelberg’s, a specialty neighborhood grocer known for their babka and hot chicken sandwiches. “If you wish to flex or impress someone,” says Sanchez, “splurge on some Prosciutto de Parma, famous for its richness and decadence. It doesn’t really get any better than that.”For all spread supplies, head to Mekelberg’s on Grand Avenue. In the back of the store, they have a bar with beer available both to stay and to go. Pick up some beer for the event while you’re there. Sanchez recommends the Three’s Brewing Kicking and Screaming. “It’s a light, grassy and crushable German-style Pilsner.”

summer wine

Photo credit: @atlaswinesbrooklyn

If your guests are more of a wine crowd, Sanchez recommends Atlas Wine Merchants. “I’m no wine expert,” she says, “but I would definitely stop by Atlas on Bedford. I would ask for something well-rounded: a little tart, a little dry, something with a touch of mineral flavor to be enjoyed slightly chilled.”

summer wines
Photo credit: @atlaswinesbrooklyn

Karl Wurst of Atlas Wine highly recommends the boxed wines, including the Herisson boxed Gamay/Pinot Noir blend from France, for larger gatherings. It’s great chilled and at a great value; the $36 box is equivalent to four bottles of wine… so maybe pick up a couple. Atlas also carries the Forthave Spirits aperitif and amaro, a Bed-Stuy based brand, for big batch negronis or spritzes. Hoping to bring something like that orange wine you had at The Fly? Wurst has bottles for you in spades, most already chilled.

And if the party dies down? Sanchez recommends heading over to Do or Dive and adoring all the puppies in their dog-friendly backyard. 

Clinton Hill is ideal for enjoying those extra hours of sunlight in the summer, whether it’s at a suitemates’ potluck in the park or in the backyard of a cozy, neighborhood bar. Take a free tour of Common Classon or Common Grand today!

 

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