Best Recipes for Your BBQ Spread
Slow-cooked meats, perfect corn on the cob, and delicious sides.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: July 13th, 2012
ummertime is arguably the best season for barbecue—you can grill in the backyard, vegetables are fresh from the farmer's market, and nothing quenches you after a hot afternoon in the sun quite like an ice-cold beer. Unfortunately, some of the standard fare offered at our favorite BBQ restaurants seems a bit daunting to make at home ourselves.
Things like pulled pork and brisket may seem like they'd be difficult to make, but if you've got a slow cooker (or an oven, really) and eight-or-so hours to kill, you're gold. And when you're done stuffing your face with meat that's been cooked low-and-slow or if you want accompaniments for the meal (we know, how pesky), there are a few extra-great sides you can make that compliment barbecue perfectly.
Barbecue foods may seem complicated to make, but they're not.
Pulled pork is only difficult in the sense that you have to wait eight hours for it to be done, and it's going to make your kitchen/house smell so good for those eight hours that you're going to have to resist eating it before it's finished. But aside from that, it's one of the easiest recipes ever. You don't even need any obscure ingredients, although using root beer in the cooking liquid sounds a little odd. Don't worry—you don't taste the root beer when it's finished, it mostly just helps the meat tenderize. Our tried and true recipe
also includes coffee as part of the cooking liquid, but again, you don't taste the coffee when all is said and done.
One of our favorite brisket recipes comes from the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. Her blog of collected recipes from her family home never disappoints, and her marinade/rub of ketchup and powdered onion soup sounds like it would be kind of weird, but cooked down, it's downright delicious. This one also takes six to eight hours to cook, so again, stay away from your kitchen and let it do its thing—you'll get to eat it soon enough.
Coleslaw is a big deal with barbecued/smoked/slow-cooked meat. Some people prefer to put it directly on their sandwiches, while others eat it as a side. It doesn't matter which you choose, but it does matter that you put it on your table at the cookout. The traditional kind that you're probably used to is the sort that places like KFC serve, and wouldn't you know, there is a website that lists several variations of what people think is that restaurant's recipe. But if you want a lighter slaw, one that's not so mayonnaise-heavy, we like Mark Bittman's mayo-free version, which is a little spicy thanks to the jalapeno in it, but healthier thanks to using only olive oil, dijon mustard, and sherry vinegar instead of a glob of mayo. Either way, they're both really good sides to have around.
Corn on the Cob, Grilled
Fresh corn from your local farmer's market is an extra-special treat when grilled instead of being boiled. And it's really easy. Preheat the grill and oil the grate. Then, peel back the husks and remove the corn's silk, and put one tablespoon of butter, along with salt and pepper (optional) on each ear of corn, then pull the husk back up (remember—no silk). Wrap each ear of corn tightly in aluminum foil, and cook on the grill for about 30 minutes, turning occasionally. It's a simple side that everyone will love.
Macaroni and Cheese
This one is practically a no-brainer to have around for your cookouts. It's wildly unhealthy, but oh my, it's delicious. For this, the homemade version knocks the blue box out of the park (but you probably already knew that). Partially-cook a pound of elbow macaroni noodles, but don't let them get too soft; you'll want to let them finish cooking in the oven, so if you boil them too long now, they'll be mushy after their trip under the broiler. Some recipes use eggs, but we find this makes the dish too fluffy; we want a dish that's oozy.
For a great cheese sauce, stir together two tablespoons each of butter and flour, and after a minute of cooking, stir in one and a half cups of milk. Then, slowly stir in about three cups of shredded cheese—we like a mix of cheddar, gouda, and jack cheeses. Stir in salt to taste (you won't need much), 1/4 teaspoon of dried mustard, and a dash of hot sauce (it won't make it too hot, it will just balance out the creaminess. We mean it—only a dash!). When everything is stirred together, pour the sauce over the noodles in a casserole dish.
Pour some breadcrumbs on top, and throw the whole thing under the broiler for about 10 minutes—this helps the top get crispy, the noodles finish cooking, and the sauce thicken up a bit.
Now go forth with your arsenal of barbecue recipes, and enjoy your successful cookout.
One of our favorite brisket recipes comes from the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. Her blog of collected recipes from her family home never disappoints, and her marinade/rub of ketchup and powdered onion soup sounds like it would be kind of weird, but cooked down, it's downright delicious [link: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/03/passover-brisket-i-think/]. This one also takes six to eight hours to cook, so again, stay away from your kitchen and let it do its thing—you'll get to eat it soon enough.