It’s finally summer, the weather is warm and we’re all enjoying being outside again. With the 4th of July just days away, and while plans are a little different this year due to COVID, that doesn’t stop us from thinking about our menu for the 4th. I always like a mix of old and new recipes at my gatherings. Food is always at the top of the list when I think of a summer picnic. When you smell something cooking on the grill, does it trigger personal memories for you? You know, like the smoky aroma of BBQ ribs on the grill- does it remind you of your dad standing at the grill in his apron, sweating all day, with a smile on his face, patiently rotating the meat to perfection. That’s exactly what I remember when I think of my dad. He loved food as much as I do; this can be a really strong stimulus for some of us. Others might beam with pride when they serve their Grandma’s favorite pie recipe- you know, the one that is at every single family picnic and it’s just not the 4th of July without it? Take a minute to think of something you grew up having and that gives you fond memories… make it this Saturday for the 4th of July. Try to recreate your family’s recipe; even if you don’t have the exact recipe you will come close and will be carrying on the tradition. In some cases you might be introducing it to a whole new generation that will learn to appreciate the history and stories behind the food. I promise you, even just attempting to make the recipe will make you smile.
If you can’t think of a recipe, then start your own new tradition. It can be a twist on an old favorite like this tasty New England Burger; it’s actually from a cookbook we sell called “New England Open House” by Sarah Leah Chase. I promise you that this book does not disappoint, it has the most amazing recipes as even, Ina Garten will attest. This recipe serves 4, so if your crew has an appetite like those in my family, you may want to double it so everyone can go back for seconds later.
New England Burger Recipe
6 slices of apple wood-smoked bacon
1 ½ to 1 ¾ pounds 80% lean ground beef
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or melted bacon fat (this is my Mom’s preference)
2 Teaspoons Dijon mustard, preferably imported
1 ½ Teaspoons crunchy sea salt, such as fleur de sel
¾ Teaspoon freshly cracked black peppercorns
Vegetable Oil, for oiling the grill grate
4 ounces extra-sharp Vermont cheddar cheese, thinly slices
2 Sandwich-size English muffins, split with a fork and toast (we like Thomas’ English Muffins)
Ketchup, for serving
- Set up charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling and preheat it to medium high.
- Place bacon in a heavy skillet and cook it 7-9 minutes until nicely crisp. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and drain it; meanwhile set the bacon fat aside, if you choose to use it.
- Place the grounded beef with the olive oil or bacon fat in a large mixing bowl with the mustard, crunchy salt, cracked peppercorns and mix it together with your hands. Divide it into four equal patties.
- When it is time to grill, brush the grate with vegetable oil, place burgers on the grill over the heat until they are done. Medium rare is usually about 3-4 minutes per side.
- Move the burgers so they are not above the heat and top each of them with the sliced cheddar until they melt, about a minute.
- Cut the bacon slice in half crosswise. Perch each burger on top of a toasted english muffin half, top it with 3 pieces of bacon and add the ketchup. Serve these burgers with a knife and fork and savor the flavor!
Another good idea. We love our seafood in New England and I have been craving a good lobster roll, so that will definitely be on my menu this Saturday. The same cookbook author listed above -Sarah Leah Chase has loads of lobster recipes, including lobster rolls. While I like the traditional mayonnaise version New England Lobster Roll, my favorite is the Connecticut-Style which is made with butter and served with Cape Cod kettle-cooked potato chips on the side.
Connecticut-Style Lobster Rolls
This recipe serves 4 people as well, again, you may want to double this if you want some later. It’s so easy to prepare, but having fresh lobster makes all the difference.
10 Tablespoons butter ( 1 ¼ sticks), preferably Kate’s salted butter, at room temperature
1 generous pound cooked Lobster meat, freshly picked from the shell and cut into meaty chunks (2 cups)
Pinch of Paprika
4- New England style, split-top hot dog buns
4- Lemon wedges (optional) for serving
- Melt 8 Tablespoons of the butter in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add the lobster meat, stir gently to coat it with the butter. Let the lobster meat cook until it is heated through 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle with a light dusting of paprika.
- While the lobster meat is heating, smear the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter over the outside of the hot dog buns and then brown them in another medium skillet, one side at a time (and not the bottom or insides), over medium heat turning them once until both sides of the buns are golden brown, 2-3 minutes.
- Divide the hot buttered lobster meat among the 4 toasted buns, mounding the meat down the center of the buns. Serve the lobster rolls at once with a lemon wedge to spritze over the lobster rolls, if desired.
I hope if you choose to make a family recipe that you enjoy reminiscing this Indepence Day and if you are looking for other great picnic ideas, check out our hand-picked cookbooks which are packed with delicious new ideas. We have some beautiful serving trays and napkins , cheese boards and Piper and Dune unbreakable silicone pints, shot glasses and wine cups that are perfect for any outdoor occasion.
Have a very Happy 4th of July!
Explore What Excites You!
Chris and the Piper and Dune Family
P.S. If you are picnicking with a small group this weekend, please wear a mask and social distance yourselves from one another. Masks are NOT a political statement, and wearing them has been proven to help protect us and keep us safe. Piper and Dune just got a new shipment of masks, so get yours today and keep your family safe - available in Adults and Kids sizes.