Labor Day Barbeque Menu

August 19, 2008


Now that summer is beginning to wind down, I want to squeeze in as many casual outdoor dinner parties as I can before gearing up for the more structured entertaining I tend to favor during the fall and winter holidays.

The centerpiece of the menu below is my all-time favorite pulled pork recipe. It’s really simple to make, absolutely delicious made with either pork or beef, and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. It’s good warm or at room temperature on buns, flour tortillas, or sliced baguette. Best of all, you can make it a day or two ahead, refrigerate, (or freeze up to 3 months) and reheat it when you are ready to serve. In fact, practically everything on this menu can be made ahead, leaving the cook free to join the party and enjoy the guests.

Beer is generally the beverage of choice with spicy dishes like pulled pork, but I am not a big beer lover, so I’ve included a couple of wine suggestions as well. Enjoy!



Wasabi Peanuts 

Gorgonzola Cheese Biscuits 

Crudite with Lemon-Pesto Goat Cheese Dip 

Walnut Toasts with Fig Jam 

Citrus Sparklers


Sweet & Spicy Barbeque (Recipe follows)

Warm Flour Tortillas

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Black Bean Salad

Smokey Guacamole with Tortilla Chips (Recipe follows)

Mexican Beer, such as Pacifico or Dos Equis, with Lime Wedges

Italian Barbera wine, such as Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti, or a crisp, dry sauvignon blanc


Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Coconut Sorbet




This recipe serves 4, but can easily be doubled

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons  dark molasses

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup tomato paste

4 large garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon each paprika, ground coriander and salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1-1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder or stew beef

or “stew beef,” cut into 2-inch cubes

2 bay leaves


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk together the molasses, vinegar, tomato paste and spices. Place the meat cubes in a large, shallow, non-aluminum baking dish. Add the molasses mixture and stir well to coat. Cover with foil and bake until the meat is very tender, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

2. Remove the meat from the sauce and shred it with a knife or two forks. Return the shredded meat to the baking dish and mix with the sauce. Serve warm or at room temperature in crusty buns or rolled into flour tortillas.

(I adapted this recipe from one developed by Marcia Keisel, test kitchen supervisor of Food & Wine magazine.)



Makes about 3 cups

3 small ripe avocados, cut in half and pitted

2/3 cup onion, finely chopped

2/3 cup (packed) fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and finely chopped, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce

½ teaspoon ground cumin

Salt, to taste


Scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl and coarsely mash with a fork. Stir in the remaining ingredients and salt to taste. The guacamole can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept chilled, its surface covered with plastic wrap. Serve with tortilla chips.


I often make my own dinner party placecards. Here’s a simple one with a beach-y feel.


To make festive placecards for your party, just glue a dried starfish and a scrap of ribbon to a folded card. I used a glue gun, but in a pinch craft glue like Aleene’s Tacky Glue will work. Just be sure to give it plenty of time to dry. Write each dinner guest’s name on a card and stand it in the center of each plate. 


One Response to “Labor Day Barbeque Menu”

  1. […] It’s a Gift came up with a stellar full menu, complete with recipes. […]

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