If you’re the type who fires up the grill on most days during summer, there’s a good chance that the old burger, hot dog, chicken, and steak routine will lose its luster at a certain point. The good news is there are many things in this big wide world worth grilling and just because you won’t find some of them in an average grocery store or butcher shop, doesn’t mean they can’t be had. That’s why we’re bringing you some interesting alternatives to grill this summer like alligator sausage, bison brats and ostrich filets.
There are also more mischievous motivations. If you’re anything like my dad, seeing the uneasy look on peoples faces when they’re told the thing on their plate is something they’ve never eaten—and probably never thought they’d eat—is your version of winning a James Beard Award.
Now, we’ve already given you a crash course on grilling romaine lettuce, but what about some unexpected meats (and a few plant-based proteins) to drop over the charcoal this summer. Here are a few ideas guaranteed to generate “oohs” and “aahs” and perhaps even the occasional “umm” at your next summer BBQ.
Rabbit is healthy and lean, has a mild flavor, and more protein than beef or chicken. Because of its tame flavor profile rabbit would do well with a brine or marinade—really anything that works for grilled chicken would be a win with a rabbit, too. Or cut to the chase with these already seasoned rabbit sausages, mixed with chicken, pork, bacon, and white wine.Buy Now
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Down on the bayou and in swampy Gulf states, if there ain’t alligator at the barbecue, it ain’t no barbecue. Alligator has a fairly mild taste, often compared to chicken, but this flavor-packed sausage is smoked and mixed with ground pork and Cajun spices to give it some punch.Buy Now
Shrimp burgers are ace on the grill because they are sturdier than most seafood and won’t crumble through the grill grates. Liven them up with a fiery aioli or punchy seasoning mix and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon.Buy Now
Tough time choosing Or have a big group to feed? This game sausage sampler nets you four packs of five different gourmet sausages: Duck & Armagnac, Lamb Merguez, Rabbit & Ginger, Venison & Cherry, and Wild Boar—something for everyone (well, except vegetarians).Buy Now
Venison is ubiquitous in some parts of the country but less popular on the coasts and in cities. With a full flavor, similar to beef but leaner, venison makes a good candidate for burgers.Buy Now
Bread cheese is in the halloumi family. A mild, firm cow’s milk cheese that holds up when cooked, meaning it won’t melt down into the charcoals. A fun and different option for vegetarians who might be over the veggie burger vibes by the time July 4th rolls around. Or grill it and top with fresh fruit and maple syrup for a quick BBQ dessert.Buy Now
Crowd Cow is one of our favorite retailers for ordering quality meats online. Lean and healthy grass-fed bison and a spice blend make up this delicious mild bison sausage. They’ll cook up juicy with a class brat snap at your next backyard BBQ.Buy Now
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Sure, we’ve all done baby back or spare ribs but consider wild boar for your next summer shindig. Boar meat is quite similar to pork, but a bit darker, with a more robust and intense flavor. It’s also leaner but you should treat these ribs like you would any rack of normal pork ribs.Buy Now
Ostrich meat makes a good candidate for a burger if you’re looking to mix things up. It tastes like prime beef but has less fat. Season it similarly to a beef burger.Buy Now
Meat substitutes get more and more meat-like with each passing summer. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods’ meat are two that are leading the charge and while Impossible meats are still mostly only available at restaurants, you can find Beyond Burgers and Beyond Sausages in specialty stores nationwide. These burgers are fully plant-based but your guests might never know it.Buy Now
I likely don’t have to explain to you what meatballs are but cooking them on the grill instead of a frying pan is a good idea for a summer BBQ. The fire adds a smoky char and sexy grill marks, too. Call on a favorite recipe but make sure you’re using a semi-firm ball that won’t fall apart on the grates.
Header image courtesy of Crowd Cow.