The Takeout's Fantasy Food Draft: Best Backyard BBQ Dish

Welcome, dear readers, and welcome back to The Takeout Draft, our recurring feature that combines our love of food, fantasy sports, and arguing on Slack.

Every week, we will select a topic of conversation from the food and drink world. Takeout staffers will then field a team via the snake draft format. After five rounds, The Takeout commenteriat will vote on who they believe was victorious in that week's draft. At the end of the year, the staffer with the most weekly victories will select a charity of his/her choice that The Takeout will make a donation towards.

The winner of last week's Takeout Draft: Best Noodle and Pasta Dish, in the largest margin of victory so far: Allison Shoemaker!

To mark the Memorial Day long weekend, our draft topic this week is: Backyard BBQ dishes! Grilled dishes, side dishes, desserts. We're talking food you can bring to your cookout.

Our draft randomizer has selected an order:

1. Kate Bernot

2. Allison Shoemaker

3. Kevin Pang

Kevin Pang: Kate again with the #1 pick!

Kate Bernot: That's been two weeks in a row now, and it never seems to bump me to victory. But I shall try, try again.

🍔 Round one, pick one: Cheeseburgers 🍔

You know 'em! You love 'em! If I went to a backyard cookout that didn't have cheeseburgers, I'd leave.

Allison Shoemaker: It's a classic.

KP: No explanation necessary.

AS: Okay, I'm going with bratwurst.

Another classic, IMO

KP: Allison, can you specify which bratwurst? The coarse variety, or the smooth veal style?

AS: I mean, I love all brats equally, but my favorite brat is a coarse brat I get from my local farmer's market, which is cooked in Bell's Oberon.

The most summery brat to ever brat

KP: Oh my

AS: Still, brats of all sorts. I stake my claim.

Bring on the mustard.


KB: You could use Sierra Nevada mustard and DOUBLE BEER that brat

AS: Oh hell yes

KP: For my pick, obviously, hot dogs. The most classic of backyard grilled foods. I'll go one further: I love Nathan's Famous, but then we did a taste test last year and Ball Park Angus won out. Both are really delicious wieners.

For the record I'm recusing on answering whether it's a sandwich or not.

KB: Charred a little on the outside?

KP: A little. My wife loves it nearly blackened, but it changes the texture of the exterior too much. I want a bit of snap in my casing.

As this is a snake draft, I have the next pick, and I choose the finest poultry extant: Grilled chicken thighs.

Skin on, always.

One of my favorite applications of grilled chicken thighs is marinate it in Goya's Mojo Criollo marinade. It's got garlic, onions, bitter orange, and lemon juice.

It's a tart and garlicky marinade. I let my thighs sit in a ziploc bag for a few hours, and on the grill they go. It picks up that nice char flavor, too.

No sauce necessary.

AS: Okay, let's get fancy as hell and go with salmon. 

KB: Oh shit we in the Hamptons now

AS: Hold on, let me find a fish emoji: 🐟

I love grilled salmon. Really simple but so so tasty and, as stated, fancy as hellllll

KB: I can just feel myself getting healthier with all those omega-3s.

KP: I truly think one of the world's most delicious food is salmon grilled on a cedar plank.

AS: Hold on let me grab my fanciest muumuu and some giant shades, gotta make some salmon

KB: May I offer you an Aperol spritz with that salmon?

Okay, for my second-round pick, veering into the side dishes here... Baked beans

I cannot deny them.

AS: Again, a classic.

KB: Most cookouts are just an excuse for me to eat baked beans and then maybe put a brat on my plate to make it look like I'm not just there for the baked beans. Except that I am.

The best ones have the sweet-tang-bacony trifecta.

AS: Yeah, gotta have the meat chunks

Very good choice.

KB: Continuing my side-dishes-that-are-made-with-bacon theme: German potato salad

I know the potato salad camp is divided. I know I will lose votes from my friends across the aisle.

But I believe the vinegary version to be superior.

AS: I'm with you friend, that's a great side

KB: It's so quintessentially backyard to me.

KP: And doesn't turn in the sun

KB: Yeah, doesn't breed new life forms in < 15 min.

AS: Okay, I've got some more proteins in mind, but I want to snag this essential item while I can:

Corn on the cob 

KP: aww dang it

AS: Boiled, grilled, either way: Yum.

KB: Butter's best friend

AS: Make some fancy flavored butter or keep it simple.

Worth the strings.

Smells amazing.

KB: The bane of braces-wearers everywhere

KP: So for my next pick, I'm going with a dish that's huge in the Pacific NW where I grew up:

Macaroni salad

It's the quintessential side of Hawaiian plate lunches

Cool, creamy, full of starch, and cheap

AS: Also a noodle dish! 

KP: And easy to make, too.

Imagine coleslaw dressing on cool macaroni. It's that sort of sweet-tanginess

And for my next pick, I'm gonna get a lot of grief for selecting this early, but: watermelon

KB: Whatever, the haters are wrong

KP: Is there a fruit that cools you better in the hot weather?

I also love taking cold watermelon and adding to a tall glass of lemonade

KB: It has WATER in the name

So no.

The most hydrating of fruits, hands down

AS: And you can get real messy and make a vodka watermelon if you're really feeling punchy

KB: I'm expecting Allison to choose vodka watermelon next.

AS: Oh I thought about it.

Okay, well while I am loathe to take another protein so soon, I just can't believe this is still an option:


KB: Yeah, damn. Let the record reflect Kevin Pang chose watermelon before ribs. (ducks)

KP: I purposely did not choose ribs

For me I prefer them wood smoked, which isn't to say you can't do in a backyard grill, but takes a bit longer than just throwing it onto a Weber and slathering with sauce.

AS: I think there's a chance that I miss some classic sides and desserts

But ribs, man!

Hoping to make some on Monday and use my bottle of Jones Sisters sauce

KP: I'm assuming you mean pork ribs, correct?

AS: yes


KB: So excited this is still an option: Cold fried chicken

AS: GOD, that's a good choice.

Damn damn double damn.

KB: I didn't grow up with this, but the first time I had it, it was a revelation.

AS: I am not thinking far enough outside the box.

KB: It's a different beast than regular fried chicken, and I wouldn't eat it outside of a backyard context, really.

But in the summertime when the weather is hot, you can stretch right out and eat that cold chicken

AS: Oh I would. 2 am. Gimme.

KB: All right, to round out all this savory action: cherry pie

I don't come from a family of pie bakers, so pie is a major treat for me when someone else bakes it.

Cherries have enough tartness, enough zing.

AS: Oh god, I have so many options left.

Well, I'm going to leave some classic veggies and grill things on the table here, but I feel like I need a dessert. And since Kate picked a pie, I'm going to go with the mighty ice cream bar

Melty and messy

Best purchased directly from a truck

Or pulled straight from the freezer

KB: God those are good.

AS: The Snickers ice cream bar? Unbeatable

KB: Do you lick all around the ice cream "walls" first, and then bite it? Or am I just some kind of solitary weirdo?

Oh I was thinking ice cream sandwich.

Please disregard my strange licking question.

AS: I mean I love an ice cream sandwich too

But I prefer a bar

KP: For my final pick, I'm continuing my march towards obesity by picking a meat dish, but possibly one of the great grilled foods alive:

Lamb ribs. And yes, I chose lamb over pork ribs.

I remember going to a Greek restaurant once and having lamb ribs grilled over charcoal, and it was served with just salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil

It was unbelievably delicious, and I'm of the mind that the tastiest animal fat in the world is lamb fat.

KB: I need to attend more Greek barbecues

AS: Sounds amazing

I cannot believe none of us took kebabs.

Or asparagus

Or peach pie (or just peaches for that matter, I love peaches)

KB: I want to have a party with all of these foods

AS: Hear hear

Your vote matters!