Last Sunday my boyfriend and I celebrated the recent warm front with the first barbeque of the season. His apartment has a great balcony and we got in the habit last summer of having people over on a regular basis to eat, drink, and grill. These are great social times because everyone usually brings some contribution, whether it be food or stories. One barbeque a friend brought beer can chicken, which I had never had before. Another time, my friend Erin made this amazing marinade that made anything it touched a million times better by just enhancing the natural flavors of the meat or vegetable it soaked in. This Sunday, my friend Ellie brought an incredible homemade ice-cream made from ricotta, cardamom, and lemon and a bag of ginger snaps to eat with it.
My boyfriend is a mean griller and likes experimenting with marinades and soaking methods. The big hit from Sunday was that he soaked the brauts in beer overnight and then grilled them. The brauts were juicy and smoky. He also made some amazing chicken legs that were marinated in buffalo sauce. You always have to bring a big appetite to our barbeques because you usually will end up with several different meat courses. On Sunday, it was perch, chicken legs, brauts and Italian sausages, and then pork.
Although I normally don’t hold to gender stereotyping, the quote “Men cook outside. Women make the three-bean salad,” is somewhat true in my relationship. My contribution to the bbq event tends to be in the supporting cast role of sides and alcohol concoctions. The tricky thing about bbq side dishes is that one of the odd things about being a foodie is a desperate need to make your mark on the old standards. I'm fortunate in having an audience that allows me to experiment on them, and some experiments are better than others.
Over the next week, I’m going to post one tip every day about insights I’ve had about reinventing picnic and bbq sides. Then, on Thursday, I’ll give you my favorite bbq sidedish recipe, “Loaded Baked Potato Salad.”