Entry #1354, July 1, 2012
The 4th of July holiday is a celebration of our nation’s first steps toward sovereignty and freedom when the Founding Fathers drafted and signed the Declaration of Independence. Every year families and friends gather together congregating in the backyard for fun, food and good times. The smell of delicious and flavorful foods being cooked over the grill drifts through the air and into the olfactory systems of everyone within the area.
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Because the 4th of July is all about traditions, values and freedom, many backyard get together feasts consist of old, reliable and comforting dishes like hamburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, potato salad, deviled eggs, and apple pie. Often the decorating and tableware reflect the event of the day with red, white and blue items and US flags hung for all to see. This color theme is generally carried over into the dessert dishes to liven up the festivities and enhance the significance of the day.
Now to get down to the nitty-gritty purpose of this article – creating a memorable and delightful 4th of July culinary concoctions certain to bring a smile to all your guests and have them begging for seconds.
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Condiments and dips
Fresh hamburger and hotdog buns, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, sweet and/or dill pickle relish, iceberg lettuce leaves, sliced tomatoes, butter/margarine, seasoned salt, BBQ sauce, sliced red onions, cheese slices assortment (American, Cheddar, Swiss and Monterrey Jack), guacamole (see recipe below), sliced pickles, chili con carne (get your favorite brand), and salsa (again, get your favorite brand). Have all of these items prepared and laid out like an assembly line with the plates and cutlery at one end so your guests know where to begin fixing their plates.
Get enough raw hamburger meat (preferably ground chuck) to feed at least one 5 – 6 oz. patty to each person. In a large bowl crumble up the raw hamburger and then add the following ingredients for each 2 pounds of meat: 1 – egg, 2 – T black pepper, 1 – T onion powder, 3 – T Worcestershire sauce, 3 – dashes of salt. You will want to get the BBQ grill started and hot before consider cooking. A hot grill will sear or seal in the juices of the meat. Be sure to not pack the patties too hard or tight and also place a small thumb indentation in the center of each patty. Once the grill is good and hot, place the patties on there and let them cook for 5 to 6 minutes on side – only turn once and DO NOT smash or squish the patties with the spatula as this will cause them to dry out. A good burger is moist and juicy not charred and dry.
Grilling hotdogs is relatively easy and affords no preparation work. Choose your favorite hotdog brand at the grocery figuring 1 to 2 dogs per person (I recommend getting the “all-beef” marked). Again, you want a hot grill before you begin cooking. Place the hotdogs individually separated on the grill and let them cook. Turn them every 2 minutes until they reach a nice pinkish red color, a plumped up and have grill or char lines on them.
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Corn on the cob
On your kitchen stove, heat a large caldron of water to boiling. Add in ½ cup of sugar and stir until dissolved. Now place as many ears of corn as possible (leave room for movement – do not stuff them in there solid). Once the water begins to boil again, start your timer at 8 minutes and let the corn cook. After the time ends, remove the corn from the pot and spread and roll the butter/margarine all over the ear of corn. Add seasoned salt to taste.
Use 4 to 5 pounds of red potatoes. Remove the peeling and slice the potatoes into the size of 1” to 2” cubes. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add 2 – T of salt to the water. Once boiling, add in all of the chopped potatoes. Let them boil until tender (about 15 minutes). Place 2 eggs in another pot of water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pot and remove from the heat and let the eggs steep for 12 minutes. Place the now hard-boiled eggs under cool running water and let me cool off until you can pick them up and peel the shell off. Chop up one small red onion, 4 celery stalks, and a small (16 oz. jar) of sweet pickles. Pour the potatoes out of the pot and into a colander and them return them to the empty pot. Add in the chopped eggs, red onion, celery, sweet pickles, 1 cup of mustard, ¾ cup of mayonnaise, 1 – T of salt and 1 – T of black pepper. Use a large spoon to mix everything together. Pour the potato salad into a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 5 hours to cool.
In a large pot of water, place 1 dozen eggs, 1 – T of vinegar and bring to a rolling boil. Once boiling, cover the pot and remove from the heat. Let the cover pot stand for 12 minutes so the eggs will be hard-boiled. When done, place the pot of boiled eggs in the sink and run cold water over the eggs until they are cool. Now, remove the shell from each egg and slice each one in half lengthwise. Gently remove the yolk from both halves and place them in a small bowl. Using a potato smasher, mash up the cooked yolks and then add in 1 – tsp salt, 1 – ½ tsp red pepper, ¼ cup sweet pickle relish, 1 – ½ tsp onion powder, and 1 – ¼ cup mayonnaise. Mix all together and spoon mixture into each egg white half where the yolk was. Sprinkle each deviled egg with paprika. Place in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 hours to cool and set.
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You have already made several wonderful homemade dishes, so why not buy a nice frozen or freshly made apple pie at the grocery or bakery.
And there you have it – the quintessential 4th of July menu – all favorites and all easy to do.
For more 4th of July ideas on Stagetecture, click here.