Labor day is one of the culmination of the summer cookout season. On that day, your best bet is to stick with traditional recipes for everyone's favorite barbecue dishes. However, all the other impromptu shindigs that come together during the rest of the summer are excellent venues for some experimentation. The standard barbecue menu can always use a little tweaking, and your guests will appreciate the effort that went into giving them a slightly different perspective on some of their favorite dishes.
Hamburgers This delicious American classic is so loosely defined that it doesn't require much effort to tinker with its components. So long as there's bread and ground beef, it can still be considered a burger. The first thing to tamper with is the cheese. American and cheddar are wonderful choices, but they don't have the same zesty taste that their sophisticated cousins possess. Some easy choices include bleu, feta, mozzarella and even grated Parmesan.
Vegetables also make great toppings on cheeseburgers, but there are many more options other than the standard tomato, onion and lettuce. A mushroom, particularly portobello, will add an interesting texture and accent to an otherwise normal sandwich. Slightly more adventurous eaters can sample chili peppers, jalapenos and daikon radish.
Potato salad It might seem sacrilegious to mess with such a regular family favorite. However, most people can agree that one can only eat so much basic potato salad. One of the first things to try adding is a variety of spices to the plain mayonnaise dressing. A little garlic goes a long way towards making a bland salad interesting. Other interesting toppings can include cilantro, basil and cracked red pepper.
However, the true cookout mad scientist will first go for the gusto and change the entire dish's premise. Intrepid chefs can substitute sweet potatoes or yams for the normal red or russet potatoes that make up the bulk of the salad. Sweet potatoes in particular give a slightly sweet tang to an otherwise hearty meal. Those that don't need to watch their calories can try deep-frying the hunks of potato that are used to make potato salad a decadent treat.
Corn on the cob There isn't too much that one do to corn on the cob since there isn't much preparation that's involved. Some people have begun to realize the benefits of grilling the ears instead of boiling them, which gives a slight charcoal taste. However, the main event is the topping, and for those who tired after years of butter can try some alternatives. An interesting choice is cream cheese - a liberal application gives the corn a salty tang that butter lacks.
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