Barbecue is one of our favorite foods and it makes us proud to be Americans and eating as many great foods as possible. You recently had outdoor lighting installed around your Matthews home, you now want to impress your friends by throwing an epic barbecue party. You have selected great music, purchased plenty of chairs and have a keg ready to tap, but what you have not done is figured out what foods you will serve for the festivities. We can help.

While choosing the leading role for your barbecue is of great importance, supporting roles are just as critical. That is, you might grill the finest short ribs this side of the Atlantic, but if you serve them with canned corn and store-bought coleslaw, you have failed at an epic level. Short ribs look great on the plate, but become a showstopper when paired with the right side dishes.

Blue Cheese and Bacon Potato Salad

Potato salad is a staple as a barbecue side dish, but you want one that is sure to please the crowd on a whole new level. We don’t kiss and tell, per se, but we can give you some tips when making potato salad.

Grilling the potatoes in aluminum foil adds that subtle note of smoky flavor. Add vinegar, red onion and fresh parsley for color and flavor and mix in a hint of Dijon mustard, just enough to make your mouth water when you taste it. Finish off your potato masterpiece by adding blue cheese chunks, chopped bacon and mayonnaise.

Andouille Hush Puppies

Pair spicy, smokey Creole-Cajun pork sausage with anything and you propel the taste to 11. Andouille will make anything in your mom’s cookbook taste better. And while hush puppies are savory, crunchy goodness, adding Andouille to the recipe is a huge upgrade.

Peanut Coleslaw

Take your rather ordinary coleslaw recipe and add smoked pork or chicken, wasabi paste and ginger and you have a fun and tasty Asian twist on a classic dish. Don’t forget to add in the chopped peanuts. You won’t have to worry about leftovers with this exciting dish.

Barbecue Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are a staple at any barbecue and there are any number of ways you can make them. But what sets these apart from the rest is the smoky chopped pork. This one little ingredient makes all the difference in the world.

Root Beer Baked Beans

Transform your run-of-the-mill baked beans by stirring in some sweet root beer, hot sauce, dry mustard and chopped bacon. There you go, you just kicked this side dish up from “This is pretty good” to “That was amazing!” We would have to agree, it is pretty amazing.

Pasta Toss

Take your basic macaroni salad, which might include pasta, mayonnaise and a few veggies, and add green beans and grapes and you have created a dish that will not be ignored. Seedless red grapes take this salad to a sweet level that bursts in your mouth.

Tomato Salad

Start with sliced heirloom tomatoes and top them with fresh peas, basil, creamy goat cheese and lemon-herb dressing, this should get your mouth watering. The presentation of this dish is as beautiful as the taste.

Vegetable Kabobs

Nothing fancy here; just place your favorite veggies on a skewer, braise with balsamic vinegar and honey mix and throw them on the grill. And while red bell peppers and mushrooms are good veggie choices, try cherry tomatoes, okra and Japanese eggplant.

Jalapeno-Lime Corn on the Cob

Fresh corn on the cob is quite delicious, but try amping it up by adding spicy jalapenos, cilantro, garlic and lime juice or zest to the butter mix.

Now, these sides will take your barbecue to the next level.