Tired of serving the same old burger, dog and sides? Inject fresh life into your barbecue repertoire. While most agree a perfectly char-grilled burger is barbecue nirvana, it’s good to shake things up by adding novel ideas to the menu rotation. We expect it from favorite restaurants, so why not at home?
Condiments are a simple way to effect change, but don’t overdo it. Offer traditional (pickle relish, ketchup, mayonnaise, grilled onions) alongside the unique (sliced avocado, artichoke or sun-dried tomato tapenades, chipotle sauce, fruit salsas or chutneys, caponata). Simple sides—a fragrant baked potato or fresh corn kernels sautéed with a bit of butter, salt and pepper—will enhance these new-found flavors. A well-dressed green salad is always pleasing. Sliced almonds, raisins or cherries, chopped apples, jicama, radish or fennel add fabulous taste and texture to ordinary cole slaw.
Finish with a freshly baked fruit pie from the farmer’s market. If you have a hankering for ice cream, set up a toppings stand with crushed cookies, mini marshmallows, spicy nuts, fresh fruits, maple and chocolate syrups.
(For best flavor, make a few hours before serving and keep refrigerated)
1 large shallot, minced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups broccoli slaw (with red cabbage and carrot)
2 small fennel bulbs, halved lengthwise, cored, and very thinly sliced
2 cups Fuji or Gala apple, cored and chopped
Whisk shallot, vinegar, salt and pepper in a large non-reactive bowl. While whisking, add oil by pouring in a thin stream down the side of the bowl. Whisk until all oil is incorporated. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Add slaw, fennel and apple slices to vinaigrette and toss to coat. Taste again and adjust seasoning if desired. (Can be refrigerated for a few hours). Serves 10 – 12 (small sides).
GRILLED SAUSAGE PEPPER & GOAT CHEESE SUB
(Courtesy Woolwich Dairy – www.woolwichdairy.com)
1 red pepper chopped or cut into wedges for grilling
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. steak spice
1 4-ounce log Woolwich Dairy fresh unripened goat cheese
1 lb Chorizo (or Italian) sausage
4 Italian bread rolls, split lengthwise, toasted
Toss red pepper with olive oil and steak spice. Place the peppers in a grilling basket and lay on BBQ grill at moderate heat, turning a few times so bottoms don’t burn (approx. 15 minutes). Remove from grill and immediately toss with goat cheese. Cover and set aside. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Add chorizo; cook 8-10 min. or until cooked through (170ºF), turning after 5 minutes. Remove from grill and cover to keep warm. When chorizo is almost ready, place buns on grill and toast until lightly golden. Slice chorizo in the bun; top with goat cheese and roasted red pepper mix. Serves 4.