by Deborah Rieselman
Labor Day 2013
If Labor Day means a chance to grill out, let Dean Larry Johnson share some of his special recipes, including his famous award-winning barbecue sauce. The dean of the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services has served annual barbecue lunches to UC students, faculty and staff for 14 years. He even kept up the tradition last year while he was interim provost.
His 15th cookout will be Sept. 13, 2013, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., on the lawn next to the college. Of course, he never knows just how many guests to expect. In the past, Johnson's feasts have fed anywhere from a low of 1,500 people to a high of 3,000.
"It's a communal thing of breaking bread," says Johnson. "We do it to build community and spirit. Meals generate conversations, often conversations about our own families.
"The college is like a family, and families eat together. That allows us to see people as human beings. We say the barbecue is only for the college family, but then we explain that everyone is a member of our family that day."
Obviously, the size of the dean’s guest list requires an equally sizeable grocery list. Here is a partial shopping list from previous UC-sized barbecues.
- 70 lbs. of marinated chicken to grill
- 200 lbs. of ribs, pre-cooked in beer and spices before being barbecued
- 500 hotdogs
- 400 hamburger patties
- 400 veggie burgers
- 150 pounds of potatoes, cooked and peeled to make 25 gallons of potato salad
- 120 hard-boiled eggs, with the yolks and whites carefully separated (add the whites to the potato salad and the yolks in the dressing)
- 16 gallons of pasta salad
- 10 gallons of marinated, homegrown vegetables to grill
- 10 gallons of coleslaw
- 10 gallons of baked beans
Fortunately, "immediate" family members from the college help the dean prepare the fall feast. "Everyone in the college helps out," he says appreciatively. "It's a real team-building thing. And we're proud to do it because it tangibly shows how much we care for the students.”
Because Johnson’s recipes feed very large crowds, he prepares the dishes in supersize portions. He did scale these recipes down for our readers, but most people will want to size them down some more. No matter what size you pick, however, you can count on the dish being full of flavor.