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Fourth of July barbecue

By Lia Blanchard

Last month, we asked “What Makes ‘Gourmet’ Gourmet?” and came to the conclusion that there is no concrete answer – it’s a very subjective matter regarding ingredients and taste and presentation and care. Consider the Great American Backyard Barbeque; any chance that this culinary carousal can be considered “gourmet”?

Oh, absolutely, yes.


Everyone knows that a burger from the humblest grill still beats anything that can be purchased from the front seat of your car. Take your burgers even further with these tips.

  • High quality meat. Grass-fed, coarsely ground round or chuck makes a great burger. Don’t go too lean, as the flavor is in the fat. Ask your butcher to grind the meat at the time of purchase, and grill it that day. Yum.
  • Great toppings. Visit the deli section of your favorite grocery store to pick up fresh bleu, Provolone, or pepper Jack cheese. Whatever produce you like on your burgers – pineapples, lettuce, tomatoes, onions – get them farm-fresh and prepare them just before serving.
  • Hot buns. Leave the bagged stuff on the shelf and get freshly baked rolls. Grill them too, and serve ‘em hot!


The hot dog is about as American a sausage as there is, but maybe you’re ready to teach your old dog some new tricks. Try an international twist to make it bark with flavor and to expand your menu.

  • Mexican hot dog. Grilled, wrapped in bacon then stuffed into a steamed roll with pinto beans, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, and even mustard and mayo, these dogs are a specialty of Southwestern hot dog stands.
  • Greek dog. Top your favorite wiener with tzatziki sauce then feta cheese crumbles tossed with chopped tomatoes, olives, and lettuce. Hummus is a good alternative to tzatziki.
  • Chilean “completo” dog. In Chile, the completo is a very large hot dog topped with chopped tomatoes, sauerkraut, and a large dollop of mayonnaise. They are very popular, and the different varieties have different names; for example, the Italiano replaces the sauerkraut with avocado (the resulting red, green, and white colors resemble the Italian flag).

Make it gourmet fun

Remember, what make “gourmet” gourmet is a subjective interpretation of fresh ingredients, new flavors, and good presentation. There’s no reason that a backyard barbecue can’t provide all of these things. Give it a try and let us know how it turns out!