One needs only look as far as Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter Sunday to see that sharing lavish meals typifies our holiday celebrations arguably as much as the reverent sentiments that inspire them. So it goes with Independence Day every July 4th, a holiday perhaps notable among other annual observances for how directly its inspiration influences the dishes hitting our tables. This is evident from the foods selected to the color palette of the meals served. In that spirit of chromatic culinary patriotism, I present two food ideas dominated by the Red, White, and Blue for serving this weekend:
Meal 1: Ground meat-stuffed red bell peppers, a pitcher of white sangria, and baked Adirondack Blue potatoes
Stuffed peppers respond well to the artistic inclinations of the preparer. Virtually everyone has his own ideas regarding recipes and best practices when designing a meal around them. For this reason, and because in preparing them myself, I’ve amassed more permutations as far as ingredient and seasonings than can be imparted here, I’ll save sharing any personal recipes for a future article. Instead, I’ll offer a reminder that ground chicken, lamb, or pork are easily as delicious and easy to work with as ground beef, so we needn’t confine our pepper-stuffing endeavors to the cow. Whereas many people are fond of mixing unseasoned breadcrumbs in with the meat, here too, is an area widely open to interpretation: dry stuffing mix, corn flake crumbs, cornmeal, seasoned croutons, corn meal, or even your favorite flavor of potato chips finely ground are some exciting alternatives to the same old supermarket breadcrumbs in that cardboard can. You know the ones.
Having enjoyed many a pitcher of white wine sangria, ice cold and sweet as a first kiss on many a warm July afternoon, I can’t sing its praises loudly enough. The only thing better on a lazy, sun-washed afternoon than finishing a pitcher over a good meal with some friends is finishing two pitchers.
In a previous article, I wrote on various foods that I uphold as personal favorites for their accessibility and the simplicity of their preparation. Among these was the baked potato. While I did not in that piece reference any particular type of potato, I will here state that the Adirondack Blue potato earns high marks for taste and texture, and for pairing well with virtually any meal.
Meal 2: Red wine, white corn chowder, and blue lump crab cakes
A good red wine is a luxury whose enjoyment we needn’t confine to taking with red meat. Although conventional menu wisdom still argues against certain food and wine pairings, July 4th is about independence. To my thinking, said independence must certainly include freedom to enjoy any wine one sees fit with the meal of their choosing on an American holiday.
It goes without saying that lump blue crabmeat yields delicious crab cakes. Chowder made of sweet white corn is not only a sexy first course, but serves a potential second function as a sauce to further tickle the palate when drizzled over the crab cake or pooled beneath it. These two flavors suit each other so well that if silence falls once your guests dive in, take no offense. There simply may remain scant usage other than eating to which they desire to put their mouths, unless it’s to request a second helping. If they do, oblige them. After all…it’s a holiday.