OT: Independence Day sides - have fun!

Well, it's getting to be the 4th, and celebrating our national independence around these parts means firing up the grill/pit to burn some meat and filling up the cooler with the good stuff. This is *always* a favorite activity of mine, no excuse is actually needed.
But one of my amigos commandeered this holiday a long time ago, so we go to his house for libations, food, and Americana music. He is good on the grill/pit, but LOUSY on the sides. But this year he is trying to impress a new female acquaintance of his, and wants to do something besides beans/taters/slaw for sides.
(Although... come on... what is wrong with brisket, black beer, a pot of beans and potato salad, Texas toast and a good cigar?)
These are sides I have made in one form or another for years at my house for me and when friends and family come over. I typed all this out for him, and have tuned it up my recipes a bit to make it easier for the group to follow. As with any cook, these aren't all my completely original recipes (except the warm dill potatoes) but inspired by the thousands of meals I have eaten and probably the same amount prepared at the pit for the last 35 years.
I hope you guys try some of these out. They are really popular around here every time I fix them.
Long a favorite here in S. Texas, the Atomic Buffalo Turd (stuffed jalapeo pepper) is a long time staple at barbecue get togethers. Hollowed out jalapeos are stuffed with cheesy seafood dip, shrimp, pulled pork, Monterrey Jack cheese, and all other kinds of "stuff". Wrapped with thin bacon, (never thick - it won't cook right, so cheap is good here) stabbed through with a toothpick to hold the bacon on and then smoked until the bacon is done.
They have many kinds of holders to hold them upright so you can cut off the cap, hollow them out, then stuff. It works a lot better than halving them. Check out this page and scroll down:
http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/for...ann-abt-holder
Corn - especially at this time of year when corn is cheap, we cook corn in the shuck on the grill, then when done peel back the shuck to make a handle. Remove the silk, the brush with melted butter with chili powder in it. Excellent...
Warm garlic/dill potato salad is always a favorite, and different from the normal heavy, starchy, potato/pickle fare. Cook about 2 1/2 pounds of the potatoes in foil on the pit, then allow to cool until just warm. An hour before the potatoes are done, take a bowl and mix a tablespoon (or two!) of warm butter with one cup of sour cream and 1/4 cup of milk, and 1/2 cup of Hellman's mayonnaise, and if you have some good dill pickles, about two tablespoons of the brine. Add about 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, one tablespoon of dried dill, and 1/4 teaspoon of granulated garlic. Whisk all this together and set aside. This needs to sit for about a half hour or so in the fridge.
When the potatoes are done (and just warm) , slightly mash them to break them up and pour the mixture over them. The mixture should be out of the fridge for about 15 minutes or so to keep it from being too cold when you add it to the potatoes. This will keep the potatoes from being gummy and starchy, as will mixing when the potatoes are warm, not hot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let them sit for 15 minutes or so, then serve with crumbled bacon and dried parsley as garnish. Serve immediately.
The potatoes will be excellent served cold as well as the second day I can usually pick up a slightly smokey flavor to the salad.
Onions - cut medium sized (baseball) onions in half from end to end (not across the middle). Pop out about a tablespoon's worth of the inner most center. Fill this cavity with softened butter seasoned with chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook indirectly until very soft, cavity up. Serve with a fresh and generous grind of black pepper on the top, and a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and parsley. Crumbled bacon sends these over the top, but certainly isn't necessary.
Cabbage - cook very small head type (round, not leaf) cabbages (softball sized) following the onion recipe. And of course, add crumbled bacon to the finished product.
Green beans - buy a .99 disposable grill topper at the sporting goods store, or punch a million holes in a foil pan from the inside out (turkey or chicken roasting sizes are my favorites). Take fresh or frozen green beans (partially thawed) and put them in a bowl. Coat generously with olive oil, a drizzle of sesame oil (optional) and kosher or sea salt.
Pour out your beans on the grid, and cook on the hot part of the grill until done. For an extra treat, cut up (dice) one of the onion halves from above and put some of the onions in the green beans. When I am on my game I put sliced smoked almonds or freshly toasted sesame seeds on as additional flavor. A little crumbled bacon on top makes this a sure winner as well.
An easy salad - buy baby Chinese cabbage at the supermarket. The heads should be about 8 - 10" long, no more. Cut the in half lengthwise. Brush with garlic infused olive oil on both sides. Grill face down. When the cabbage is just soft and you get some little grill marks, flip it over. Brush more garlic oil on the open cabbage face to run down inside the cabbage. Just a light brush will do, don't overdo it. Cook on the grill with until soft and you have some grill marks. Serve with a warm vinaigrette (store bought is fine, just warm it) drizzled over the warm cabbage, and dress with spicy croutons, black olive slices, grated Parmesan or a crumbled Feta cheese (Feta is perfect), and my favorite add, grilled whole cherry tomatoes brushed with the garlic oil.
Mushrooms - I like Portobellos on the grill the best. In looking for Portobellos, try Sam's as the local stores around here keep them in stock for restaurants. Brush off a Portobello mushroom to clean it, never use water or rinse it off. Cut off the stem even with the gills. Remove the gills with a teaspoon and brush out the inside well. Lightly brush the mushroom inside and out with olive oil. Salt and pepper (the oil makes the seasonings stick) to your preference. Put small, clean and very dry cooked cocktail shrimp in the cavity where you cleaned out the gills. Cover the shrimp with cream cheese based seafood dip. Grill over direct flame with the stuffing up until the mushroom softens and the dip is warm/hot. Obviously, this is something you won't flip... since all the ingredients are cooked, you are only trying to get them very warm and the mushroom soft. I garnish with a couple of shakes of cayenne and plenty of parsley. For my significant other, I use paprika instead of cayenne. These are a meal in themselves and your friends will think you have been taking lessons.
I could go on...
My grills and pits are a passion.
Robert
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On Thu, 1 Jul 2010 01:45:47 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Not a thing, sounds good, although in Al you run the risk of being run out on a rail for barbequeing a cow.

We cook a lot of similar sides, but I haven't seen potatoes fixed this way, I'm going to try this with some fresh dug red potatoes.

Yep, Swmbo and myself have eaten a lot of meals that consisted only of stuffed portobellos, the possibilities are endless.

Please do.

This years meat is going to be a young goat, who shall meet his maker early Saturday morning and get covered in olive oil and dry rub until time to cook. Maybe as a nod to Texas and beef, I'll put some ox tails on the grill.
basilisk
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On 7/1/2010 3:45 AM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Ditto ... except for the cigar. Wished I could but don't want to start that again ... don't have the 30 years it took me to quit last time. :)

<snip of good stuff>
Damn that sounds good, cher!!

Please do!

Not as passionate as I used to be, but I don't consider a Sunday complete without the pit or grill fired up.
On another note, take a look at this:
http://www.e-woodshop.net/images/elpanchito.jpg
Eggplant, stuffed with seafood, served in a bed of Spanish rice and guacomole salad, with a side of smokey beans.
(eatcherheartout photo courtesy of Leon)
As much as I like Cajun cooking, I don't know whether there is anything on the planet as good as this dish at Los Gallitos Mexican Restaurant here in Houston!
It's been awhile, Robert ... give us a holler next time you're in Houston and let's get the six of us together.
And thanks for the recipes!!
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 4/15/2010
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Well.... I don't smoke cigarettes anymore, and haven't for years. And I only smoke about 2 - 3 cigars a week now. Less than that if it is nasty hot and I am working outside all day. I tend to buy a higher end smokes, and damnit, I just enjoy smoking them.

A recent discovery by some, I first had stuffed/smoked japs in the mid 70s at a family barbecue put on by my sweetheart. She didn't last, but the recipe did.
It was at that time I learned the vital importance of making sure you were extra careful with your equipment when you went to pee if you were involved in the stuffed jap prep. A hot, sweaty day, juice on the fingers....

I have a great recipe that I came up with for a tart, dill flavored cole slaw. I don't like the sweet cole slaw dressings, but then I don't like the "drain pipe" taste that you get with some heads of cabbage. It is strong enough to stand up well with smoked and spicy foods, and has a different tasted than the usual cole slaw fare. If you like cole slaw, I will post it.

I never realized until about 10 years ago when I started goofing around on a barbecue forum how lucky we are to be able to smoke/grill/ barbecue whenever we want. I have two nice, small pits, and I don't think twice about doing a brisket, turkey, chicken, pork butt/ shoulder, etc.

WOW.... now that was some nice looking plate of food! Have you tried to make it at home?

A long time, indeed. That sounds great Karl. We don't get there as much as we used to since my sister is busy now with a college aged kid. With her daughter gone away to college in Boston (nephew still there) she tends to want all the private uninterrupted time with her she can get.
Kathy and I have been uninvited to many a gathering in the last two years, as has the rest of the family so she can maximize her time with her daughter.
Anyway, thanks for the invite. We'll figure something out. I think it would be a ton of fun to get together with everyone.
Robert
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On Fri, 02 Jul 2010 09:11:12 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I smoke 1 to 2 a week. Can't afford the high end ones, but with a good cup of coffee or a brandy most any will do.
Do you get the "How do you do that without getting addicted and needing more and more?" questions? I do.
--
Intelligence is an experiment that failed - G. B. Shaw

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Nah.... I have been smoking cigars off and on since I was a teenager. No one except my friends know I smoke them.
As far as smoking good cigars, I love 'em. BUT.... I don't want to pay what it would cost to smoke the really great cigars I like. I am a sampler fiend and subscribe to several sites that send me deals 3 - 4 times a week.
Cigars are like anything else, just because they are expensive doesn't mean they are good and just because they are inexpensive doesn't mean they are bad. My favorite cigar right now is about $8 or so most places. However, I got just go 25 of them for $2.85 each on cigarbid.com. I also scored some Olivas at about a buck a stick ( !!! ) in Churchill sized long filler Honduran wrappers.
In my size (50+ ring gauge and about 5 1/2" and longer) I can find smokes all day long for about $2 if I am patient.
A recent sampler offering to first time customers had a deal that had 10 premium sticks (no dog rockets!) for $26, delivered. The retail on it was about $75 or so... so they were ending up about $7.5 a smoke, plus shipping which made it about $8 each.
However.... they had an offer to all first timers that said they were referred to get an additional $10 off their first purchase. That made it $16 delivered for all ten sticks. A buck sixty a piece for an $8 cigar!
I had six of my buddies order them for me, so I made out quite well. Best of all, I got another $10 of account credit for the referrel! So I now have $60 sitting in my account for future purchases.
I like and appreciate a good, cheap cigar. But if you internet shop, you can get some really good, enjoyable sticks for about $2 or so. That being said, I sure like a really <fine> cigar, and getting a good deal on it makes it taste that much better.
I have had excellent luck with cigarsinternational.com and cigar.com. cigarsinternational.com has some killer combo packs, short sales, blowouts, etc. On occasion they cut their prices to the bone. I don't know if this link will work, but check it out:
http://www.cigarsinternational.com/html/sp-CA12-t.asp
They goof with the price, but it should be $10 for all 8, and then $15 with the carrier. They leave the ad up, but they change the price from time to time to $29.95.
At $15 ( $10 + shipping) for those 8 cigars, it is a steal. Just about any three of those cigars (and just two if you pick right!) would add up to $15 any where else. BTW, I have that deal in my hands, the the herf is extremely well made, and is even on their site for $19.99 plus shipping. Why they would sell the cigars (ignore retail $, on their site about $40) and the herf ($19.99 on their site) for $20, I don't know.
I have another on the way, though.
Robert
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