Instead of burgers and hot dogs, this July 4, we're embracing the wide variety of cuisines that actually define American food. So many dishes that have become crucial to the American cookout come from countries all over the globe, so we've put together a menu that pays tribute to that diverse and delicious fabric.
First things first: If there isn't guac, is it even a party? Since we all know the answer to that question, we recommend starting your cookout with a unique spin on classic guacamole (see the recipe), laced with roasted poblano chiles and chopped pecans. (For a classy upgrade, try using leftover avocados in chilled avocado shooters from Puerto Rican chef Jose Enrique.)
For the main course, throw everything on the grill. Though you probably know what shish kebab is, you may not know of its Persian origins. So we came up with a semi-traditional version (see the recipe), made with chicken marinated in saffron and yogurt.
For a side that ties it all together, look no further than elotes, Mexican grilled street corn (see the recipe), topped with a spicy mixture of mayo, chile powder and crumbled cotija cheese. And for dessert, keep it light with a recipe from Argentine chef Francis Mallmann: grilled peaches and figs (see the recipe), served with vanilla ice cream for a fresh and bright end to the meal.
If manning the grill scares you, build yourself a michelada (see the recipe) and take a deep breath, because we're breaking this 4th of July feast down to the minute. Though you could knock out this menu in about four hours (plus an overnight marinating), we suggest inviting over four friends two hours before your guests arrive to help you tag-team this grilling extravaganza. (You can bribe them with the aforementioned micheladas.)
① The night before your party, marinate the chicken.
② The next day, put someone on grilling duty. This means skewering the kebabs, shucking the corn and preparing the fruit for dessert.
③ Have one friend make the guac. To keep it fresh and vibrant green, prep everything but hold off on mashing it all together until right before your guests arrive.
④ Have the next friend fill in the gaps. That means making the seasoning mixture for the elotes, juicing the limes for the micheladas and picking the herbs for the kebabs.
⑤ Task your final friend with the bar. That means everything from making sure the beer is ice cold to decorating, tastefully, of course.
Raise the Bar
Once your beers are on ice, build your bar station.
① Instead of your guests measuring out each ingredient for beer cocktails, make a master seasoning mix with Maggi, Worcestershire, hot sauce and lime juice. Assume two drinks a person, so multiply the recipe by 16. Keep this mix chilling until the party starts.
② Pre-rim enough glasses for each guest, and then leave out a few extra with some lime wedges and a plate of salt and pepper, just in case someone needs a freshly rimmed glass.
③ On your bar, set out your bucket of cold beers, rimmed glasses, seasoning mixture and a one-and-a-half-ounce jigger (the amount of seasoning mix per 12-ounce beer). A sign with instructions is helpful, too, if you want to be really nice.
Now get the grill blazing and prepare for your remaining guests to arrive.
① Throw the kebabs and corn on the grill when everyone begins to arrive. That way, they'll be ready by the time the guac is cleaned off.
② As soon as the kebabs and corn are off the grill, put your cast-iron skillet on there to cook the fruit. (We suggest switching off with another friend, so you don't spend the entire party at the grill.)
The best part is since this menu is completely done on the grill, there won't be any pots or pans to wash. And if you're feeling extra wild, we won't judge if you choose to use paper plates.
Get ready for the cookout of the year, and may the Fourth be with you.
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