As food holidays go, Mother's Day (celebrated this year on May 8th) is risky business. There's that well-intentioned, but often disastrous breakfast in bed--cooked (mauled?) by Dad and the kids. Or there's the all too often indifferent, overprized brunch cooked by chefs who would rather be celebrating the day with their own moms. (The National Restaurant Association estimates that nearly 50 percent of American families will go out to eat on Mother's Day.)
We have a better option: Fire up your grill for a fabulous Mother's Day brunch. That's how we roll at my house.
Start the meal with a jubilant Mezcalini. Think cross between a margarita and a mojito with a blast of wood smoke. Think cool mixology tool in the form of a handheld smoker. I discovered the Mezcalini at the rooftop dining room of the Casa Oaxaca Hotel in south-central Mexico. Extra points if you rim the glass with smoked salt.
Next up? Smoked Gazpacho. You can smoke the veggies the day before and puree them just prior to serving. Looks great in a shot glass and it will definitely make Mom's day.
Now you unveil a platter of Smoked Deviled Eggs. Top them with slivered smoked salmon, and you'll have Mom eating out of the palm of your hand.
Bacon, Ham, and Cheese Chicken Thighs may sound like pure Americana, but the inspiration actually comes from Serbia. Nothing too heavy: just grilled boned chicken thighs stuffed with smoked ham, pickles, and piquant cheese and tied with butcher's string into savory gift packages. Assemble the day before to streamline your routine the day of the brunch.
SIGN UP for Steven Raichlen's UP IN SMOKE newsletter to learn more about barbecue!
Steven Raichlen is the author of the Barbecue! Bible cookbook series and the host of Project Smoke on public television. His web site is BarbecueBible.com.