When it comes to side dishes at a cookout there are several old standbys that will be a big hit with almost everyone. Not that you have to serve an old standby but most families and friends have a set menu for their cookouts and unless you want to cause a major disruption, you are expected to bring the usual foods.
These are always one of the most requested items at any cookout. There are as many varieties as there are cooks. My version combines Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard and Hellmann’s Mayonnaise added to the cooked yokes and then beaten to a smooth consistency. Using a piping gun assures that they will not only be delicious but visually appealing. I never sprinkle paprika on top but have been known to sprinkle them with a garlic and herb garni.
One of the easiest dishes to prepare is macaroni salad. You can make your salad with just plain elbow macaroni, or for a little something extra special, the corkscrew elbows are a nice touch. Just about any shape of macaroni will work fine I like bowties myself.
What you add to your macaroni salad is what makes it yours. Whether you prefer tuna or shrimp, ham or chicken, this is a very versatile dish. Adding color with red, yellow or green peppers, cherry tomatoes, summer squash or broccoli makes it nutritious as well as delicious. Some cooks prefer a mayonnaise base, and others use oil and/or vinegar. Both are acceptable, and if the salad will be sitting outdoors for an extended period of time, oil and vinegar has a longer life.
A fruit salad is also a welcome side dish at a cookout. Freeze your grapes before you make your salad, and then add them just before you take your salad to the cookout. The grapes will keep the salad cold for several hours and add great flavor and texture as well. Avoid fruits that turn color, such as apples and bananas, and choose those that hold their shape well such as melons, berries and pineapple. Kiwis add great color as do strawberries and blueberries.
What would a cookout be without potato salad? Whether you go for the more traditional mayonnaise and egg variety or the German style you are sure to have an appreciative audience.
There are a wide variety of Jell-O molds that are not strictly for dessert. You do not have to add fruit to create a mold that will be a big hit with everyone at the cookout. You can combine the Jell-O with a variety of dairy products to make a fluffy version or just pour it over top of some fruits or berries.
Whether you doctor up a can of beans or bake your own, baked beans is a cookout favorite. They can be good old Boston-style or a more western barbecue flavor. You can throw in some onions and a little bacon and take them to a whole new level. Whatever you choose, they are sure to be popular.
Corn on the cob
Corn on the cob is as American as apple pie. It can be cooked on the grill wrapped in aluminum with flavored butter or it can be boiled and served with butter on the side. You can also grill the corn with the husk still on. To do this it is necessary to soak the corn so that the husk won’t catch fire. What you get is a streamed corn. You can peel back the husk and add some flavoring after soaking.
Coleslaw is an old standby that is really easy to prepare these day with bags of pre-grated cabbage and jars of delicious. Adding horseradish can really spice up plain coleslaw.
These are just a few ideas for cookout side dishes. Every cook has a few of their own that get requested at every outing. You will bring the ones that your friends and family love best.