Chat Leftovers: Fourth of July Vittles
We're going to the beach Friday! I'm excited, and wanted to make a picnic for lunch. What do you suggest would be a good, but cheap main course. I was thinking of baking chicken wings with a sweet soy glaze of some sort. Any other ideas?
You'd get more bird for your buck if you roasted an entire chicken, quarter it and pack it in foil for the cooler. You'll have more variety of nibbles and a cut-up bird should prove to be less messy than a mountain of glazed wings. Here are the details for my naked chicken, a whole skinless bird infused with a curry-style rub. Bring along a baguette and you can make sandwiches.
Speaking of sandwiches, I've got cold meatloaf on the brain. Make the meatloaf the night before, but refrain from slicing it until the next day when it's good and cold. Don't forget to pack some strong mustard, red onion and cheddar for sandwich fixins.
Fruit is a picnic must. Cut up a watermelon into chunks or stop off at a roadside farm stand for a few pints of local berries -- ideal nibbles for an al fresco feast.
If you're keen to do sides, keep the mayo out of the equation, mainly for food safety reasons. We all know there's nothing like hot mayo on a summer day. Good times!
In your picnic shoes, I'd be tempted to boil up a bunch of spuds for a mayo-free potato salad as well as an impromptu snap bean salad, both of which travel well, can be made the night before and will complement both the chicken and the meat loaf menu options.
Washington, D.C.: Hosting a vegetarian/lactose intolerant BBQ for the 4th -- any suggestions on what to make? Was thinking grilled corn, some sort of pasta thing, any luck/suggestions in grilling tofu?
I've got the goods on grilled tofu -- all you need is a marinade that you love and a couple of skewers -- and you'll be in business. Contrary to what everyone thinks, tofu does exceptionally well on the grill; in fact, it's one of my favorite ways to eat the curd.
For variety, I might whip up a batch of black bean burgers for those who don't do soy (but FYI, the patties are held together by an egg); they're terrific al fresco fare, with lots of topping promise, including a hunk of avocado or some just-picked cherry tomatoes. The only caveat: Patties are too delicate for the grill, so cook'em on the stove top instead.
My feeling about summery pasta salad is that it can get icky, as in overcooked and swimming in mayo. I'm more tempted to play with instant couscous, a smaller granular member of the semolina family, a flavor chameleon that requires hardly any cooking whatsoever. Couscous loves being the star of cold salads, and the beauty is that you can season it however you want. For your group, keep out the cheese, but bring on the mint and the lemon, the pine nuts and cucumber!
Last-minute thoughts that can be grill thrillers: Try grilling a pineapple this weekend. I learned this trick from my friend Carlos: Slice off the thorny top, then start cutting Â½-inch rounds, skin included. Place on grill, brush with a little brown sugar and/or lime juice, and let them cook until fork tender. Heavenly.
And on second thought: Quarter a few onions, brush with cumin, cayenne, olive oil and your favorite vinegar and thread on a skewer. Keep out of direct heat but let them go until sweet and tender. They'll go with everything on the menu, and you'll be the star of the show.
Got something to throw on the grill? Share your favorite Fourth nibbles in the comments area.
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