“Elegant” and “barbecue” are two words that don’t seem to go together, and the concept seems to be an oxymoron. But recently my daughter and son-in-law prepared a feast for a client showing that you can create eye-popping food from old barbecue standbys.

Barbecued ribs

Of course, the main event – ribs – is something that you don’t want to mess with, especially if you are the weekend grill king and have a recipe that goes back to your grandfather.

Smoked-trout deviled eggs

But the side dishes can be as complex as your imagination. For example, deviled eggs are usually pretty ho-hum. Try to add some spice by using something like smoked trout.. You can do it easily if you have a backyard smoker, but you can even do it in your kitchen with a Cameron stove-top smoker.  Follow the directions, put a heap of wood chips in the bottom, close up the top, turn on the heat to medium, and smoke for 20 minutes or so. Just be certain that the lid fits tightly and is completely sealed. Otherwise the smoke alarm will disturb the neighbors. When the fish is smoked and the heat is off, carefully remove the lid of the smoker and transfer the trout to a cutting board where you can remove the skin and bones. Then flake the fish and mix it with a little of the sieved egg yolks from your hard-boiled eggs. Season as you wish and pipe the mixture into the waiting egg white halves. Decorate with whatever comes to mind – a sprig of fresh dill, a dab of caviar, or edible flowers.

Mortadella pigs-in-a-blanket

Hot dogs are pretty standard barbecue fare, and for me, nothing beats a well-grilled hot dog topped with ketchup, mustard, relish, onions, and whatever else you can think of. Still, the lowly hot dog can hardly be considered elegant. Here’s how you dress it up – try tiny little mortadella sausages wrapped in pastry as pigs-in-a-blanket, and serve them with a piquant mustard-seed dipping sauce.

Frito chili canapé

Even chili and corn chips can be dressed up. Use your favorite chili recipe, preferably without beans, and then spoon it into those big corn chips designed for scooping dips. Garnish each one with a dab of sour cream and a sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese. Arrange the individual chips on a bed of lettuce and let the guests have a go. You and they will all have a good time with this twist on old-fashioned Frito pie.


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