On July 4th, American’s celebrate our nation’s independence by taking the day off from work to eat barbecue, have fun in the sun and watch fireworks. The weather is usually blistering hot in North Central Florida and we tend to gravitate towards any body of water we can find to cool off.
As a kid, I remember the yummy treats we ate, the smell of the freshly cut grass, the mosquitos trying to penetrate through the bug spray we applied just before sundown and the sparklers that every kid held in their hand until the last second before burning their fingers. Food was definitely a focal point of the holiday with all the moms trying to outdo each other with their creative red, white and blue themed desserts or the guys hovering over the grill, sampling smoked meats while holding a cold beverage.
Holiday barbecues are tons of fun and the food is exploding with flavor, no pun intended. Here are a few mouthwatering recipes to try for your next summer grill out with friends and family.
Burgers tend to be the fan favorite at a barbecue because of their simplicity and versatility. You just can’t go wrong with the classic burger. They are so good that even a vegetarian craves them every now and again. Burgers are a food you can put on a menu that is guaranteed to satisfy most, if not all, of your guests, including kids. This burger recipe is beastly, yet sexy. It literally will explode in your mouth as the egg yolk pops and soaks into the bread. It is sweet, salty, smoky and has a bit of a kick at the end – that is if you can fit it all in your mouth. Don’t be scared of this swamp burger, it won’t bite.
- Swamp BurgerIngredients4 hamburger buns1 pound ground beef (80/20)Salt and pepper
8 slices of bacon
4 slices of cheddar cheese
4 Tbsp blueberry jam
1/4 cup jalapeño slices
1/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp seasoned salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup canola oil
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Preheat grill to 350 degrees.
-To make jalapeños, combine flour, seasoned salt and black pepper together. Toss jalapeño in flour mix, shake off excess flour and fry in canola oil until golden brown. Set aside.
-To cook bacon, place bacon slices on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Set aside.
-To cook eggs, in a non-stick fry pan, spray with cooking spray and cook eggs over easy where the yolk is not overcooked and will pop if poked.
-To cook burgers, divide beef into four patties. Season with salt and pepper. Place on grill and cook for 10 minutes for a medium temperature, flipping about half way through. Place sliced cheese on each burger, close the lid of the grill for 1 minute. Burgers should be finished and cheese should be melted. Place sliced buns on the grill for just a second to toast. Set aside.
-To assemble burger, spread jam on the top of the bun. Place jalapeno slices on the jam. On the bottom half of the bun, place your burger with cheese, 2 slices of bacon and a fried egg.
Pickling, which is simply immersing food in a brine or vinegar, is one of the oldest food preservation methods. You can pickle just about any vegetable and it can last for months in your fridge. These marinated veggies have an addicting vinegary bite and they are super easy to make. Pickles can be chopped up into your favorite salads, spread on a sandwich or used as an everyday condiment at your table. This easy pickle recipe rocks and will have you reconsider reaching for those shelf-stable products at the grocery store. Who knew you could become a picky pickle eater? Say that 10 times fast!
- Homemade Garlic Dill Pickles
Yields Four 1-pint jars
8-10 small pickling cucumbers (3 pounds), quartered or sliced
2 cups white vinegar
2 cups water
2 Tbsp kosher salt
4 heads fresh dill
2 tsp black peppercorns
4 small cloves garlic
-In each jar place 2 pickles, a head of dill, garlic clove and 1/4 tsp of peppercorns in each jar.
-Combine vinegar, water and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil until salt is dissolved. Pour over pickles into each jar. Refrigerate up to three months.
Ribs are in a whole league of their own. You have to be patient with them, but if done correctly, the results will have you running to the dinner table and leaving nothing but bones on your plate. If you don’t have a smoker, you can easily apply a dry rub and cook it slow and low in your oven until it is ready to fall off the bone. Apply a sticky sweet barbecue sauce and finish it off under the broiler or on the grill for a crunchy exterior texture. The caramel notes in the bourbon and sweet and tart flavors from the blackberries in this recipe take this barbecue sauce to a different level. Grab some extra napkins because these ribs are finger-licking good!
- Blackberry Bourbon BBQ Ribs
1 rack of pork ribs
2 cups fruit juice
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp herbs de provence
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 cups fresh blackberries
1 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp grain mustard
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp Sriracha
2 Tbsp apple
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 ounces bourbon
-Reserve 2 ounces of bourbon and set aside.
-In a sauce pot, combine all ingredients for the sauce and the other 2 ounces of bourbon. Simmer on low for 15 minutes.
-Puree sauce with an immersion blender wand until smooth. Add the reserved bourbon. Strain sauce to remove blackberry seeds.
-Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Mix all dry rub ingredients together and coat both sides of the rib rack. Place on baking sheet. Pour fruit juice around ribs in pan and cover with foil. Bake for 2.5 hours.
-Remove pan juices and return rack to a foiled sheet tray.
-You can either turn the grill on high or set the oven to a low broil. Brush sauce on the ribs. Broil in the oven or grill until sauce forms a crust on the ribs. Keep a close eye on them as the sugars from the sauce can burn easily. Remove immediately and brush another layer of sauce before serving.
Spanish Sangria was introduced to the United States at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. This cocktail traditionally contains red wine, brandy, fruit juices and a variety of cut-up fruit. The best part is when you get to taste the intoxicating fruit salad from the bottom of the glass. Wait, fruit salad? That means this drink is healthy! Try this Watermelon Sangria recipe made with white wine, watermelon juice, rum and Cointreau for a refreshing spin on the red wine punch.
- Watermelon Sangria
Yields 6-8 drinks
2 pounds seedless watermelon (1 1/2 pounds cubed, 1/2 pound cut into triangle slices)
1 bottle dry white wine
6 ounces white rum
4 ounces Cointreau
2 Tbsp agave nectar
2 lemons (one for juice and one sliced for garnish)
1 orange sliced for garnish
4 oz. blueberries
-In a blender, puree the watermelon cubes. Pour through a fine strainer into a pitcher. Add the white wine, rum, Cointreau, lemon juice and agave. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Stir again, then pour the sangria into ice-filled white wine glasses and garnish with the watermelon triangle slices, lemon slices, orange slices and blueberries.
Food seems to just taste better when it is cooked over an open flame, and grilled corn is one of them. There are a few different ways you can grill corn, including straight on the grill, wrapped in foil or still in the husk. Although naked on the grill tends to be drier than the other methods, it does have that flavor of the open flame. Leaving it in the husk tends to char the outside, steam the inside and give the corn an earthy flavor. Once you remove the burnt corn hair from the husk and cut off the kernels, you can add the corn onto a southwestern steak salad, in a fresh salsa or as a light cold side salad that pairs well with barbecued meats, like this one.
- Grilled Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad
Yields 6 servings
4 ears of corn
2 Tbsp butter
2 avocados, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lime, juiced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 cilantro, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
-Preheat grill for high heat. Peel back corn husks and remove silk. Rub butter, salt and pepper on corn. Grill corn, turning occasionally until charred on all sides and tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
-Cut corn kernels off cob and combine with the rest of ingredients in a bowl. Chill salad for 30 minutes before serving.
Red, white and blue desserts seem to be one of the more popular searches on Pinterest around this time of year, especially the traditional flag cake. Berries are usually in season and are the perfect colors for a patriotic treat. Sometimes these holiday sweets can be rich and filling, but this recipe is light, refreshing and the perfect grand finale for your holiday gathering.
- Mixed Berries with Whipped Lemon Ricotta
Yields 4 servings
(Ricotta – makes 2 cups)
2 quarts whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
½ tsp salt
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup mascarpone cheese or cream cheese
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Lemon peel of one lemon
1 cup strawberries, quartered
1 cup blueberries
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blackberries
-Line a large sieve with a layer of heavy duty (fine mesh) cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl.
-Slowly bring milk, cream and salt to a rolling boil in a heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add lemon juice, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles, about 2 minutes.
-Pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let it drain 1 hour. After discarding the liquid, cover and chill the ricotta.
-In a mixer, beat ricotta and mascarpone cheese together until smooth. Add sugar, vanilla and lemon peel. Continue to mix until completely incorporated.
-In a separate bowl, combine berries together.
-To serve, place mixed berries and a dollop of the whipped ricotta on top. Garnish with lemon zest.
Once the sun goes down and you have eaten the last bite of dessert and topped off your last drink, the night show begins! Why is it that we can’t help but put our arm around someone we love when the fireworks light up the sky? It’s a special moment that we naturally want to share with people we care about. You start to reflect back on the all-day grazing and drinking you did, about how you are going to burn the calories off at the gym over the next week and how incredibly lucky we are to live in such an amazing country where we are allowed to breathe and taste freedom each and every single day.
About the Chef
Chef Christy Angerhofer is the CEO/publisher of Eat.Local.Together — Gainesville’s Farm to Table Resource Site — and is the assistant director/executive chef at North Florida Regional Medical Center.