The Sides Are Key To A Great Barbecue Experience, According To An Expert

a platter of bbq and sides
a platter of bbq and sides - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Everyone knows that while meat may be the star of a barbecue, the sides always end up being the crowd favorite. Having a good, diverse array of sides to accompany your main course is crucial for a successful barbecue because they break up the monotony of the meat and make for a more flavorful, balanced meal. Chef Bob Bennett of Zingerman's Roadhouse recently shared with Tasting Table that when judging a barbecue menu, the sides hold a lot of weight in his verdict.

"I think the sides are almost as important as the barbecue as a part of the experience," explained Bennett. "The ones I always look for are baked beans, banana pudding, and a good slaw."

Each of these sides brings a unique quality that harmonizes with the smoky, umami flavors of the meat. A good coleslaw brings in a hint of acidity and freshness, baked beans give you a sweet and tangy side to juxtapose the spices and char of the meat and, of course, banana pudding is the perfect sweet note to end the meal on. But this is just the beginning of the different sides you can have. Get creative and intentional with your pairings, you can stick with tried and true classics but give them a modern upgrade. Selecting sides that play off the seasonings and type of meat gives you the most cohesive barbecue meal.

Read more: Styles Of Regional BBQ In The US

Selecting Sides For Your Barbecue

 baked beans
baked beans - Oksana Mizina/Shutterstock

There are endless classic, old-school barbecue sides to choose from, including mac and cheese, corn on the cob, baked beans, potato salad, cornbread, collard greens, and more! Aim to have at least three different sides with your meal. This gives more people the opportunity to find a side they enjoy and gives you more flavors and textures as well. The good thing about these sides being so timeless is that dozens of recipes exist for any of these additions.

You can easily give your barbecue an elegant flair by choosing recipes featuring refined or innovative preparations like this cast iron fig cornbread. Sides are also an important part of a barbecue for people with dietary restrictions. A vegan avocado potato salad makes your meal more accessible for everyone. If you're ever stuck on what sides to prepare aim to have one carb-heavy side, one fresher side, and one sweeter side. These three elements cover a wide array of food bases to give you the tastiest barbecue ever.

Read the original article on Tasting Table