BBQ Brisket and A Plethora of Side Dishes

15 May

If there’s one thing I love about potlucks, it is the ever-varied display of side dishes.  Forget the roast beef or shredded pork sandwiches, or whatever they’re serving as the main dish, and take me to the side dish tables!  So when I throw a little – or big – party, I like to prepare a simple main dish and then have fun with lots of side dishes.

We had a very special weekend celebrating the Little Guy’s dedication at church, with not only our church family but also our immediate family traveling to share the time with us.  Add to that the fact that it’s Mother’s Day (my first one as a mother!), and we were with both our mothers, and we had Cause for Celebration.

I love menu planning.  It’s equal parts creative thinking and problem-solving.  And menu planning for a crowd is even better.  The Big Guy hates when I do this, but I like to try at least one new recipe when we host parties.  More people trying each dish means fewer leftovers – so if it’s a flop, we won’t be stuck with a vat of it in our fridge!  And as long as the majority of the meal is tasty, I feel confident I won’t be pegged as a poor cook, the kind of hostess that you eat a little something before going to her home.

To feed the big group that gathered at our house, we slow-roasted a huge brisket (I had to chop it in half so it would fit in two big pans) and I spent a few hours preparing a number of side dishes to tempt every eater we had, from adventurous to basic to child (aka, notoriously suspicious of vegetables and unusual items).

I hope these recipes inspire your next gathering, just a teensy bit…

Garden Pasta Salad
With beans, it’s a heartier pasta salad than you might be used to.  The quick-and-easy vinaigrette is just different enough to draw some attention, but if you’re super-short on time or have some Italian dressing you want to use up, that’s another option.

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Salad

Sweet Potato-Quinoa Salad
The lemony vinaigrette that tops this salad is the perfect foil for the spicy bites of sweet potato.  Sliced green onions add a nice, fresh bit of zing to each bite – and keep it from being a beigy orangey ugly dish, too!

Summer Salad with Herbs
A recipe for a green salad?  Really?  Well, yes.  But only so your fresh herbs don’t overwhelm the romaine.  I served the salad tossed in olive oil with three lemon wedges squeezed over it; I didn’t serve the dressing recipe because I thought it tasted just a bit too nutmeg-y to be a universal crowd-pleaser.  I used half cilantro and half lemon balm – yum!  Will I serve a salad without fresh herbs again?  Not if I can help it!

Smokestack Baked Beans
A family recipe – it’s my aunt’s.  The richest flavor you’ll get in baked beans – without having to brown any bacon, thereby stinking up your house!
55 oz. canned beans (any kinds), drained
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. molasses
1/4 c. ketchup
3/4 c. barbecue sauce
2 Tbsp. yellow mustard
2 Tbsp. liquid smoke
1/4 c. dried minced onion
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
Mix all ingredients together.  Bake at 325, uncovered, for 60-70 minutes, or on low in crockpot for a couple hours.

BBQ Brisket

This was my first time preparing a brisket, and it’s easy!  One hour of cooking per one hour of meat – this proved true for us.  I got a 12-pound brisket to feed the crew, and it was enough for a bunch of adults and a gaggle of kiddos – plus leftovers for a couple meals for the two of us.
1 4-5 lb. brisket of beef
1 Tbsp. liquid smoke
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. onion salt
2 tsp. celery salt
2 tsp. celery seed
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
Mix seasonings together.  Place brisket on foil and rub seasonings all over top and bottom and sides.  Wrap tightly in foil and refrigerate overnight.  Leave in foil and bake at 275 for 1 hour per pound.  Before your final hour of baking, unwrap and cover with the barbecue sauce recipe below.  Wrap loosely and bake another hour.
BBQ Brisket Barbecue Sauce (simmer 10 minutes before using) – I would suggest making a double recipe; you don’t want an un-saucy brisket
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. ketchup
1/4 c. chopped onion
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 Tbsp. liquid smoke
2 Tbsp. vinegar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. yellow mustard
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
salt to taste

Texas Sheet Cake
I was a little nervous about doing this for the party.  My mother-in-law makes a mean Texas sheet cake.  But this lighter version just called to me.  I used 1/2 c. cocoa powder in the cake instead of 1/4 c., and also added 3/4 tsp. espresso powder.  I used 1/2 c. chopped pecans instead of 1/4 c. in the frosting.  Delicious!  Nobody knew it was “lighter” until I told them.  And here’s another plus for the Texas sheet cake.  You don’t have to spread the icing.  Just pour it over the top and make sure the whole cake is covered.  Lovely.


4 Responses to “BBQ Brisket and A Plethora of Side Dishes”

  1. frugalfeeding May 15, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    A lovely sounding dish!

    • kitchenmommy May 15, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

      Thanks! The brisket was a hit with eaters young and old(er).

  2. The Scrumptious Pumpkin May 16, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    Love the idea of a sweet potato quinoa – I have to try this! 🙂

    • kitchenmommy May 17, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

      We love it around here! If you’re eating it as leftovers, it’s best heated up a bit. 🙂

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