What are you going to bring?

For this take-and-shake salad, shown at bottom, finely diced avocado is stirred into the dressing for creaminess without browning; corn, radishes, crunchy romaine and bacon go on top. Jamaican jerk chicken is shown at top left and grilled flank steak is on the top right.

Many hands make light work: That’s the idea behind this ever-popular party style. So the next time you’re the host, heading to a friend’s place or gathering at a park or concert, remember that any fete is more fun when everyone pitches in.

Here’s a guide to no-mess mains and a stay-fresh salad.

Chill, then grill: Cooking out at a park or beach feels adventurous, but it also means you may not have running water to wash your hands after touching raw meat. Lo and behold: our no-mess marinade.

For this jerk chicken, you whirl ginger, scallions and thyme — the holy trinity of Caribbean cooking — into a paste with a bunch of other spices. For the flank steak, mix balsamic vinegar with a bit of Worcestershire (a flavor shortcut like no other), mustard, olive oil and brown sugar.

Massage marinade and meat in a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate for up to two days, then lay it directly on the grill with tongs. The chicken takes 25 minutes; the flank steak cooks in only 10, and you char the peppers and onions while it rests.


8 whole chicken legs (about 4 pounds), patted dry and pierced to bone at approximately 1½-inch intervals with the tip of a paring knife (see note)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger (from a 2-inch piece)

4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

1 bunch scallions (about 8), trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for grill

3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika

1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons ground allspice

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a food processor, pulse ginger, garlic, scallions and oil to a paste, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add thyme, paprika, cinnamon, cloves, cayenne, allspice, 2 tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper; pulse several times until thoroughly combined. Transfer spice mixture to a large resealable bag. Add chicken to bag, remove excess air and seal, massaging chicken with your hands until mixture is evenly distributed. Refrigerate at least 12 hours and up to 2 days, massaging chicken a few more times.

Remove chicken from refrigerator 1 hour before grilling. Preheat grill for direct and indirect-heat cooking (push coals to one side of a charcoal grill, or turn off one side of a gas grill after preheating). Brush grates with oil. Using tongs, remove chicken from bag. Grill over direct heat, turning occasionally, until charred all over, about 10 minutes. Move to indirect heat; cover grill and continue cooking, turning a few more times, until a thermometer inserted in thickest parts near (but not touching) bones registers 165 degrees, 15 to 18 minutes more. Serve warm or room temperature.

NOTE: 1 whole 4-pound chicken, cut into eight pieces, can be used instead of legs

Active time: 25 minutes; total time: 1 hour, 40 minutes, plus marinating; makes 8 servings.


This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to feed a larger crowd. You can also serve the steak and vegetables in soft hoagie rolls, drizzled with more oil and balsamic vinegar.


1¼ to 1½ pounds flank steak, patted dry and pierced at approximately 1½-inch intervals with the tines of a fork

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons ground mustard

2 tablespoons light-brown sugar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grill

3 rosemary sprigs

1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla Sweet, cut into scant ½-inch-thick rounds

2 red or orange bell peppers, stems, ribs and seeds removed, cut into scant ½-inch-thick rounds

Crusty bread, for serving (optional)

Generously season steak with salt and pepper. In a large resealable bag, combine vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, brown sugar and oil. Rub rosemary sprigs between your palms for a few seconds to release oils, then transfer to bag. Add steak, onion and bell peppers; remove excess air from bag, seal and shake until marinade evenly coats meat and vegetables. Refrigerate at least 12 hours and up to 2 days.

Remove steak and vegetables from refrigerator 1 hour before grilling. Preheat grill for direct-heat cooking. Brush grates with oil. Using tongs, remove steak from bag, allowing excess marinade to drip back in. Grill, turning a few times, until charred in places and a thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 125 degrees for medium-rare, 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness. Transfer to a plate; tent with foil and let stand at least 10 minutes before slicing. Meanwhile, remove vegetables from marinade and grill, turning a few times, until charred in places and tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Toast bread on grill just until charred and crisp in places, about 1 minute a side. Thinly slice steak; serve with vegetables and bread.

Active time: 25 minutes; total time: 1 hour, 45 minutes, plus marinating; makes 4 to 6 servings.


6 slices bacon (about 6 ounces), coarsely chopped

4 ears corn, husks and silk removed, snapped in half

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

4 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

½ small clove garlic

4 anchovy fillets in oil

½ cup packed fresh basil leaves

¼ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup sour cream

4 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

2 avocados, peeled, pitted and cut into a ½-inch dice

5 radishes, halved and thinly sliced (1 cup)

3 hearts of romaine, cut into bite-size pieces (12 cups)

Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels. Meanwhile, cook corn in a large pot of generously salted boiling water just until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain. When cool enough to handle, cut kernels from cobs; let cool completely.

In a food processor, pulse scallions, garlic, anchovies and basil until finely chopped. Add mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, 1½ teaspoons salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper; puree until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Add avocados, stirring to fully coat in dressing. Top with corn and radishes, then romaine and bacon. Cover and refrigerate up to 8 hours. Toss to combine and evenly coat in dressing (or shake vigorously, if using a bowl with a resealable lid) just before serving.

Active time: 35 minutes; total time: 45 minutes; makes 8 to 10 servings.

Martha Stewart’s magazine and website focuses on lifestyles. Questions may be addressed to Ask Martha, care of Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, 805 Third Ave., 25th floor, New York, NY 10022. Questions may also be sent by e-mail to askmartha@marthastewart.com. Letters should include a name, address and daytime telephone number.

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