The Fourth of July is Coming Up. How are You Going to Celebrate?

By CHEF LOUIE

If you’re like most Americans, the Fourth is a great way to get your family and friends together for tossing the ol’ pigskin and watching the fireworks (and setting them off too, depending on where you live). But for most of us, we remember Fourth of July for the food. What a great time to fire up the grill for some steaks, burgers, hot dogs, fruit, vegetables, and other great American classic comfort food in the warm July weather!

Although I do enjoy a “nice” frozen beef patty burger, the Fourth is NOT the time to gorge in preserved, frozen stuff.  Take the time this holiday to do something special for your friends and family by creating a “Red White & Blue” themed buffet.  Follow these tips below:

1)  PATRIOTIC POTATO SALAD: turn any boring potato salad into a ‘red white and blue’ potato salad by replacing the regular Russet Potato with an equal mix of Red Potato, White Rose Potato, and Blue (or Purple) Potato.  Follow your secret potato salad recipe afterwards.  Just remember that the red and blue potatoes cook and crumble faster, so it may probably be a good idea to split the potatoes in different pots just to be safe.

2)  ‘MELON IT UP!: The watermelon is the perfect summertime food.  They’re cheap this time of year, plentiful, and at their peak of sweetness.  Do something different with your watermelon by chopping it up in large cubes and drizzling a balsamic reduction over it (balsamic vinegar and brown sugar simmered to a syrupy consistency).  Or, for the Adults Only version, soak up those watermelon cubes in Malibu coconut rum overnight.  The watermelon will have a sweet flavor that will kick you in the face if you’re not careful (who needs the beer, right?)

3)  SOMETHING DIFFERENT…:  Wanna be daring?  Try this ‘Red, White & Blue Grilled Cheese’. Use strawberry jam on one side of the sandwich, the other use blueberry jam (or boysenberry jam if you can find it).  In the middle of that, use white cheddar, mozzarella, brie, or any type or white cheese.  Grill in your favorite skillet and slice in half or in quarters to serve.  Kids will love it for the sweetness, and adults will love it too because, hey, it’s different!

4) THE PERFECT BURGER BAR: Now, as you know, each person has their own way of making their own burger, so having a lot of choices available to them will give you a lot of brownie points.  To spice it up a little bit, try these tips:

- Mix ketchup and Sriracha (a Vietnamese hot sauce – you can use Tabasco as a second option if you prefer) together to give it a little bit of a kick!

- Find some beefsteak tomatoes and slice them ¼ inch thick.  They’re the perfect size for your burger!  For the true chefs, line up the sliced tomatoes in a pan, sprinkle some salt and pepper, and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes until it’s lightly toasted.

- Slice some white onions and either serve them raw, or make some caramelized onions – in a skillet, for every one onion (use either white or brown onions), cook the sliced onion with some oil, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. Cook until onions are browned.  A perfect addition to any burger!

- Get good lettuce.  No brown spots.

- Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and relish.  All mandatory.

- BUY GOOD MEAT: Always pick either Choice cut or Prime cut.  Prime will set you back a bit, but your palate will thank you for it’s perfect marbling and even distribution of fat.  As for burger patties, always buy patties that are never frozen!!  They taste better and actually lock in more of the nutrients from the red meat making it a little more digestible than it’s frozen, preserved counterpart.  For the more daring, make your own patties!  They’re a lot of fun and you can ask your local butcher for their recommendations.  If you plan to make your own burgers, use Choice cuts.

There are many more ideas that I can throw to turn your Fourth of July buffet into a patriotic extravaganza.  If you have any additional ideas that you’d like to share, please email us at marty@chocolatebbq.com.  We’d love to hear from you!

- CHEF LOUIE

Chef Louis is currently the Founder/Managing Partner for 4Top – Restaurant Consulting and Design Firm, Executive Chef/Co-Owner of Three Guys Walk Into A Party… Catering and Event Planning, Event Manager for Ace High Casino Rentals, and Chef Consultant for Chocolate BBQ. Contact him at: 909-967-4002.

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