My fantastic and frequent commenter, DC, got me to thinking about July 4th menus. It’s obvious that July 4th calls for traditional and definitely American foods...old time dishes and family favorites. There might be a spin or two on dessert or cocktails, but not the heart of the meal…the barbecue.
I’m sure you have your favorite ribs or steak or barbecued chicken recipe that you wouldn’t think of doing without. THIS is definitely not the time for paella or pasta. (Well, pasta is okay in a salad as in MACARONI salad.) Barbecued Chicken with James Beard’s (reworked, a bit) Barbecue Sauce is my thing.
Of course, the menu depends on the numbers of people, the budget and the locale, but you don’t even need a barbecue to HAVE a barbecue.
My chicken is a good example. I always start the chicken in the oven anyway, because I find that when it's cooked solely on the barbecue, it often burns too fast on the outside and cooks too slowly on the inside. I toss it around in some barbecue sauce and then roast it inside for 30 minutes. Then I usually have H cook it on the barbecue for the last 10 minutes or so.
Yesterday, we were too busy eating Cocktail Wieners (the only reason to have them is to be able to say WEINER with impunity), so I just finished the chicken in the oven. (Don’t tell the barbecue police.) My barbecue sauce is sooo good, that THAT’S the thing anyway.
The rest of the menu? We started with Penelope Casas’s Gazpacho with bowls of diced cucumbers, onion, green peppers and tomatoes. (Email me for the no-oil, no-bread, muy rico recipe.) Oh wait, I just said no paella, so why am I making gazpacho? My father-in-law requested it, that's why, and it IS the perfect hot weather soup.
Then we moved onto Cocktail WEINERS, THERE! I said it again. Those were supposed to be barbecued too, but I just threw them under the convection broiler – and they got crusty and greasy and sooo yummy that I could have eaten a truckload. The WEINERS had 3 kinds of mustard – German coarse and grainy, scarlet red cassis
Then? Barbecued chicken, hamburgers, Garden burgers, baked beans (don’t tell anyone, heat two cans of vegetarian baked beans with a huge dollop of KC Masterpiece* Barbecue Sauce), sautéed onions and peppers, roasted potato salad, tomatoes, potato chips (Lay’s Baked Barbecue) and corn. (H doesn’t let me do anything snazzy to it – I’m dying to serve it with Sunny Anderson’s mayonnaise mixture)
There is a huge mistake in Nigella’s recipe on the Today website. It calls for 1¼ cups (plus 2 teaspoons) of sugar. But the directions say to use only ¼ cup to make the 6 egg white meringue. Lucky that I have a steel trap for a brain (only when cooking) and I realized it should have said add all one and a quarter cups of sugar to the meringue.
Carol of Simply Gluten-Free made a similar and much more beautiful variation. Actually, I wish I had just done my usual pavlova, which is a large, free-form, ovalish meringue (often with BROWN sugar, instead of white, but this dessert, of course, had to be red, WHITE and blue). I bake it at a low temperature, as usual, and it comes out crusty on the outside and gooey on the inside.
Nigella’s method is to put it into a 450°F oven and then immediately turn off the oven and leave it overnight. By the next afternoon, it was actually gluey and rather difficult to cut. It made sticky strands like melting mozzarella. When it sat for awhile (and today), it got much softer and definitely more yummy.
Anyway, I hope you had a happy one. July 4th is a great day to be ANYONE, American or not, appreciating our great American heritage, culinary and otherwise.
*This is the one and only thing I use this commercial barbecue sauce for. I like its smoky flavor.