by Jay Kitterman, LLCC Culinary Institute consultant
After the Declaration of Independence was written in 1776, John Adams declared that the birth of America’s independence should be celebrated throughout the nation with such things as parades, shows, sports, bonfires, fireworks and other festivities.
From 1776 until the present, the Fourth of July has been dedicated to these types of celebratory activities, which my wife and I enjoy. We also like parties and gatherings; my wife likes to feed people. When it comes to food, Independence Day is commonly associated with barbecues, beer, picnics, strawberry shortcake and all the hot dogs you can eat!
Hot dogs are a longtime personal favorite of mine. Growing up on the south side of Chicago, a Saturday treat was stopping at Carl’s located at 83rd and Jeffery/South Chicago. For 29 cents you could purchase an all-beef Vienna dog with dill pickle spear, yellow mustard, pickle relish, sweets, onions and a dash of celery salt. It came with French fries in a brown paper bag that the oil from the fries permeated. Of course, one never added ketchup to a true Chicago dog.
The Fourth of July is a popular day for grilling. Although it’s popular to grill all kinds of meat, hot dogs are the No. 1 choice. How appropriate that National Hot Dog Month is celebrated in July!
To grill the perfect dog, try these five tips:
- Make sure your grill is clean and have your tongs ready.
- Preheat the grill and reduce to medium for standard beef franks or medium/low for lower fat content.
- Place hot dogs onto the grill using tongs and position them in a perpendicular fashion on the grill gates. This will ensure that your franks get the best grill marks possible.
- Using your tongs, roll your dogs over and grill each side until ends start to split.
- Remove the dog with your tongs, place it on a great bun and add the toppings.
Grilling burgers on Independence Day is also quite popular. Grilling maven Dennis Tucker provides the following recipe.
Making a great burger!
Preparing a good burger isn’t hard because it is all about including seasonings and toppings you like. If you want to be adventurous, include different seasonings and toppings you’ve always wanted to try. After you prep your burger, it’s the grilling that will set it apart. The grilling makes a regular burger a great burger!
1 pound ground beef, 80/20 mixture (percent of beef/percent of fat). You want some fat because that gives the burger extra flavor.
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
2 tablespoons Montreal seasoning (black pepper, salt and garlic)
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons of your favorite BBQ sauce
If you like onion, add a small chopped onion
Mix all together and make three to four burgers. I like mine thick, but thin works too, just remember thin burgers cook faster.
Start your grill and heat to about 400 degrees. You want to cook the burgers over direct heat, which means all you want between the burger and fire is the rack on which the burgers are cooked.
While the grill is getting warm, prepare ingredients to top the burger with such as cheese, bacon (pre-cook), peppers or anything else you like. I also like to slice an onion in thick slices, coat with olive oil and put on the grill when I put the burgers on to cook. The onion adds a tasty sweet flavor.
Now you are ready to cook:
- Oil the grill rack by dipping a paper towel in cooking oil and wipe the rack using tongs. This will prevent your burger from sticking.
- Place your burgers and onions on the rack. Once they’re on, do not touch them until it’s time to flip them. Every grill cooks a little differently, so get to know your grill and cook accordingly. Close the grill cover.
- Once the bottom of the burger is charred after a few minutes, flip it and turn the grill temp down to about 300 degrees. Also, flip the onion slices. Close the grill cover.
- Finish grilling your burger until it is the way you like it. For medium, grill approximately 3-5 minutes. If you want cheeseburgers, turn the grill off, then put the cheese on and close the grill cover. Wait a couple of minutes and the cheese will be melted. You’re ready to eat a great burger. And, it’s great because you made it the way you like it. Enjoy!
Red, white and blue food dishes are also popular at Fourth of July celebrations. LLCC baking and pastry instructor Chef Terri Branham provides the following dessert recipe:
Red, White, and Blue Dessert Pizza
1 box (1 lb. 2.3 oz.) fudge brownie mix
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on brownie mix box
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup strawberry jelly
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of a 12-inch pizza pan with shortening or cooking spray.
In medium bowl, stir brownie mix, water, oil and eggs until well blended. Spread in pan.
Bake 24 to 26 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out clean or almost clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread mixture evenly over brownie base. Arrange berries over cream cheese mixture. Stir jelly until smooth; brush over berries. Refrigerate about 1 hour or until chilled.
Cut into wedges. Store covered in refrigerator.
As part of your celebration, remember to display the American flag to honor our troops continuing to provide us the freedom we cherish today.
Want to learn to grill other types of foods? Enroll in the LLCC Culinary Institute’s seafood grilling class being held Thursday, July 16 at 5:30 p.m. or the pizza grilling class Thursday, July 23 at 5:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.llcc.edu/community-education/culinary-institute or call 786.2292 to register.
Cooking or food questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.