Chef Shawn Cirkiel's outdoor Texas Hill Country get-together is the party equivalent of a pair of old blue jeans—relaxed, comfortable, and tailor-made for a low-key night.
Low-Key Dinner Menu
It's hot in Texas, but not too hot to embrace the heat and sneak out to the Hill Country for gorgeous vistas and wide-open spaces. Once the sun starts to set, firing up the grill and heading outside for a relaxed dinner with friends is a great way to wind down.
Low-Key Dinner Menu Garlic Shrimp Grilled Tri-Tip with Citrus-Chile Butter Southwest Watermelon Salad Lemon-Herb Potatoes Sautéed Squash and Tomatoes Easy Mocha Mousse
Meet the Chef
After cooking in some of America's toniest restaurants, Chef Shawn Cirkiel moved back to Austin in 2002, where he became the city's youngest ever five-star chef. Wanting to shift gears to a more laid-back setting and approachable menu, he opened Parkside in 2009 on bustling Sixth Street.
"I love cooking out here," Shaws says of the sprawling, longhorn-studded ranch in Willow City. "The timing's not the same. No one gets mad if the food's a few minutes late. It's very low-key."
Recipe: Garlic Shrimp
Grilled Texas Toast soaks up all the buttery goodness in super-simple Garlic Shrimp.
Grilled Tri-Tip with Citrus-Chile Butter
Rethink steak night! Serve grilled lean tri-tip with a zesty citrus butter made with lime and lemon zest, fresh thyme, and jalapeño peppers.
Pickled Watermelon Rind
Southwest Watermelon Salad
Recipe: Southwest Watermelon Salad
Colorful watermelon, cilantro, basil, jalapeños, and Cotija cheese are just a few of the ingredients that give this Southwest Watermelon Salad its flavor. You can tone down the heat by omitting the jalapeños.
Recipe: Lemon-Herb Potatoes
Assorted herbs, lemon juice, and garlic is all you'll need to make this zippy side dish. It's great served warm, chilled, or at room temperature.
Sautéed Squash and Tomatoes
Recipe: Sautéed Squash and Tomatoes
Combine two kinds of summer squash—yellow squash and zucchini—with tomatoes, onion, fresh herbs and bacon for a savory side dish.
Easy Mocha Mousse
Recipe: Easy Mocha Mousse
Whether it's pies, puddings, or panna cotta, these dreamy desserts will have your guests singing your praises all night. Crisp cookies and fresh berries pair nicely with cool-and-creamy mocha mousse.
Grilled Baby Onions
Grilling baby onions brings out even more sweetness. Serve alongside the Grilled Tri-Trip with Citrus-Chile Butter.
Keeping with the relaxed theme, a galvanized washtub ices down some Texas favorites.
Soda Ice Pops
Turn your favorite drinks into frozen pops for an easy, heat-busting treat. Sipper-style molds keep chins and shirts clean, while looped handles are perfect for tiny hands. Acme Sipper Ice Pop Maker and Prepara Volcano Fillable Ice Pops are available at amazon.com.