Retire that bottled sauce and get creative with side salads

By Maura Wery

Memorial Day is just around the corner and with the extended winter foiling a few spring plans, families are more than ready to spark up the grill and start cooking. That being said, I think we become really content when it comes to grilling and barbecue. We all have our recipes for things and we like to keep it the same. From using the same spices to the same sauces, after a few years, it gets a little boring. So, I took up the challenge to switch up one of my favorite summertime meals: Barbecue chicken and potato salad.

My family doesn’t stray much from the K.C. Masterpiece Barbecue sauce from the store. It’s not bad, but it isn’t exactly homemade. We do have one recipe for a sauce made by Bobby Flay, but it has 25 ingredients. I don’t have the time or patience to deal with that and I’m sure most families would rather spend time together than making sauce. Luckily, I found a recipe that both breaks the traditional mold and doesn’t have 25 ingredients.

I wrote a column a few weeks ago about my love for balsamic vinegar. This recipe uses a whole cup of it, which made it appealing. Mixing it with ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire and Dijon mustard, then reducing it makes it a delicious mix of tangy and sweet.  When placed on chicken and cooked on the grill, it creates an amazing crust on the skin. It’s definitely not as thick as regular barbeque sauce, but it has the familiar flavor.

Another summertime favorite is potato salad. My family prefers the mayonnaise and mustard varieties. I do as well, but in the spirit of switching things, I decided to look for a more vinegar and mustard base than mayonnaise. My friend Kelsey, who runs a food blog called The Food Grind, created a spring potato salad that combines in-season asparagus and lemon with potatoes and green onions-all of which are cooked on the grill. Topped with a dill-dijon vinaigrette, it still has those traditional flavors, but a smokiness and freshness that really makes the flavors pop out onto the pallet.

This meal is a great new twist on something to make for the traditional Memorial Day barbecue.

Do the classics need to be changed? Not always, they are classics for a reason. But a little switch up never hurt anyone. There are tons of barbecue sauce recipes out there. Some are more vinegar-based while some are more sweet. The same really goes for the traditional salads. The real art of cooking is experimentation with flavors. So for your next barbecue, try to get out and experiment.


Balsamic Barbecue Sauce



1 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup ketchup

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper



In medium sized saucepan, mix vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, Worcestershire, Dijon, salt and pepper over medium heat.

Bring to a low boil and reduce the mixture by one-third. This will take around 15 to 20 minutes.


After reducing, pour out and reserve 1/2 cup of the sauce.


Salt and pepper your chicken drumettes (steaks can also be used) and brush marinade onto the chicken.


Place on the grill, skin side up and cook for eight minutes on each side, brushing with marinade periodically.

For plating, serve the reserved hot BBQ sauce on the side.


—From Giada DeLaurentis at

Grilled Potato Salad with Asparagus and Onions



4 red potatoes, washed and cut in half

1/2 bunch asparagus, bottoms trimmed, left whole

I bunch green onion

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

fresh black pepper

grilled lemon halves


For vinaigrette:

4 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon ground mustard seed

1 teaspoon dried dill weed

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

fresh black pepper to taste



Whisk together all ingredients for the vinaigrette and season with black pepper. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


In large saucepan, add halved potatoes and fill with enough water to cover the potatoes by one inch. Bring to boil and let simmer until the potatoes are just barely fork tender. Drain and set aside.


Arrange vegetables for grilling and brush with olive oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Place veggies on grill, directly over heat. Watching carefully and working quickly, obtain grill marks on veggies and move to indirect heat on grill.


Continue to slowly cook veggies over low, indirect heat for about 5 to 8 minutes, until preferred doneness.


Chop grilled veggies into bite-size pieces, and toss with desired amount of vinaigrette. Serve warm with grilled lemon slices on the side.


—Adapted from Kelsey Keagle at

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