I am a big fan of the summer barbecue. Nothing is a better celebration of warm weather than some smoking hot grilled food eaten outdoors with your close friends or family, preferably with a frosty beverage in hand.
While I am not always appreciative of my husband’s penchant for the newest in technology or fanciest gadgets, I was thoroughly on board with the purchase of a deluxe gas grill, even though it took up half of our small back patio. Growing up, we used the Weber charcoal kettle, which barbecue purists swear by for the smoky grilled flavor.
Whatever your grilling preference – gas or charcoal – cooking outside over a hot flame will ignite your appetite for the foods of summer. When it comes to barbecue, what immediately comes to mind is meat: grilled chicken, hot dogs, burgers, steaks, or thick cuts of fish like salmon.
Or maybe you’re like my brother. When he gets a chance to grill, he really GRILLS. He makes as much meat as his grill will handle and saves it to eat throughout the week (He is the main cook in his family and his wife is a vegetarian, so this is how he sneaks more meat into his diet). But with all that meat cooking on the grill, there’s no space for side dishes.
And where would a good barbecued dinner be without the supporting cast members? The corn on the cob, Cole slaw, cornbread or juicy ripe tomato salad. We grill so much around my house in the summertime, I find myself trying to come up with new and different side dishes to go along with the old standbys.
Since July is National Barbecue Month, it’s the perfect time to gather a few ideas for some excellent sides to complement your grilling. The easiest way to entertain in the summertime is around the barbecue, especially when you have a lot of people to cook for. Since it seems like there is never enough space on the grill when cooking for a crowd, why not use the slow cooker to cook the rest of the meal?
A natural barbecue side dish to make in the crockpot is Baked Beans. The recipe for Slow Cooked Baked Beans below is hearty enough to stand as a meal on its own but is also the perfect accompaniment to grilled pork or chicken. All you need to do is soak navy beans (or whatever beans you prefer) overnight in liquid and then slow cook them all day. The ingredients will meld together into a sweet and savory sauce as the beans cook to creamy consistency. The bacon adds a rich smoky flavor to the dish. The beans can be kept for up to two days, refrigerated, making this recipe even better for entertaining a crowd.
Another recipe to try is this crockpot cornbread. Cornbread goes so well with so many different types of barbecue and will be even better when it’s been homemade. So fire up your grill tonight, and enjoy some tasty side dishes out of your slow cooker!
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