Celebrate Independence Day with all-American recipes

Detroit Free PressJuly 2, 2014 


Man flipping hamburger on grill outdoors


The Fourth of July is one hot time for an outdoor party.

We’ve combed the Free Press archives for some great blasts from the past that will serve up culinary fireworks.

If you’ve never grilled ribs, Backyard Championship Ribs is an easy recipe to start with.

Take a rack of favorite ribs (we like baby backs or St. Louis-style), make a basic spice rub and have a favorite sauce at hand.

Sit back and get ready for some lip-smacking goodness.

You can’t go wrong with burgers.

The Cheyenne Burger is meaty and mighty, topped with a slice of smoky cheddar cheese. It’s from the king of burgers himself -- Bobby Flay.

Need to feed no-red-meat eaters? Chicken Burger with Sage Pesto is just the ticket.

It’s ideal if you have sage growing in your garden, or you can substitute basil.

Both burgers are super simple and likely to become mainstays in your repertoire.

Finally, what’s the Fourth of July without some good old-fashioned potato salad?

Our take on it calls for dressing spiked with fresh tarragon and lemon.



3 slabs St. Louis-style or baby back ribs

1/2 cup turbinado sugar (you can substitute brown sugar)

1 cup Big-Time Barbecue Rub (recipe follows) or your favorite rub

1/2 to 1 cup honey

1 1/2 cups apple or pineapple juice, or more as needed

2 cups favorite barbecue sauce

Serves eight.

Prepare a grill for indirect heat to a temperature of about 325 degrees. Add presoaked hickory, apple or cherry, if desired.

Prepare the ribs by removing the membrane on the bone (non-meaty) side of the ribs. Cut the rib slabs in half.

In a bowl, stir together the turbinado sugar and the barbecue rub. Spread it on both sides of the ribs. Only a small amount actually adheres, so start out using less and continue adding more as necessary. Let the ribs rest at room temperature about 30 minutes, or cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate them overnight.

Put the ribs on the grill meat side up (use a rib rack if necessary so there is enough space). Cook the ribs slowly over indirect heat until they are nicely caramelized and looking great, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the grill and the size of the slabs.

Remove the ribs and place them on a platter or baking sheet and brush them on both sides with the honey.

Pour the apple juice into the bottom of a foil roasting pan to a depth of about 1 inch, then add the ribs, standing them on end if necessary to fit. Cover the pan with foil and put the pan on the grill over indirect heat at about 325 degrees until the ribs are tender, about 1 hour. (This step can be done in the oven.) Check the apple juice frequently to make sure it doesn’t cook off; replenish it as needed. Test the ribs with a wooden pick; they should be soft and tender.

Before serving, brush ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce and heat a few minutes more, flipping them several times and brushing again with the sauce if desired, until they are heated through and the sauce is caramelized.

Big-Time Barbecue Rub

1/4 cup salt

1/2 cup turbinado sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon granulated onion

2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon ground nutmeg

In a bowl, mix all ingredients together.


2 pounds new or red-skin potatoes

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

3/4 teaspoon chopped garlic

3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon (or more to taste) lemon juice

2 tablespoons dill pickle relish

1 1/2 teaspoons dried tarragon or 4 teaspoons fresh (or to taste)

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Serves six.

Place the potatoes in a large pot and add enough cold water to cover them. Cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are pierced easily with the tip of a knife, 15 to 20 minutes.

Drain and let cool until you can handle them. When cool, cut them into quarters or halves, depending on the size of the potatoes.

In a large bowl, toss together the potatoes, celery and parsley. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, dill pickle relish, tarragon, salt and black pepper. Pour the dressing over the potatoes and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.


1 1/2 pounds ground chuck (or ground turkey)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil

4 slices ( 1/2-ounce each) smoked sharp cheddar cheese

4 hamburger buns

1/2 cup favorite barbecue sauce

8 slices crisp-cooked bacon

Fried onion rings, optional

Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, optional

Makes four generous burgers.

Divide the meat into 4 equal portions. Form each portion loosely into a 3/4-inch-thick burger; make a deep depression in the center of each with your thumb. Season both sides with salt and pepper.

Preheat the grill to high. Brush burgers with the oil. Grill them until nicely seared on the first side, about 3 minutes. Flip and sear them on the second side, about 4 minutes for medium-rare. During the last minute of cooking, top with cheese and cover to melt the cheese.

Place the burgers on the bun bottoms and slather each with barbecue sauce. Top with bacon, onion rings if using, parsley and bun tops. Serve immediately.



1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons lightly packed fresh sage leaves, washed and patted dry

2 tablespoons lightly packed fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley leaves, washed and patted dry

1 clove garlic, peeled

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

Coarse salt (kosher or sea salt) to taste


1 1/2 pounds ground chicken

1/3 cup dried bread crumbs

1/3 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea salt)

Garlic-flavored olive oil or other olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)

4 onion rolls or hamburger buns, split

2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise

Makes four generous burgers.

Prepare the pesto: In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, chop the sage, parsley, garlic and pine nuts. With the machine running, drizzle the olive oil in a thin, steady stream through the feed tube.

Add the cheese and salt to taste, and process briefly to combine. The mixture should be nearly a smooth consistency. Let sit at room temperature before serving.

Preheat or prepare a grill for medium heat.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, bread crumbs, milk and salt.

Gently form the mixture into 4 patties about 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. The patties should hold together firmly, but don’t compact them. Rub each side of the patties lightly with the garlic oil.

Grill the burgers uncovered for 12 to 14 minutes total. Grill each side twice, rotating the burgers to get crisscross grill marks. When ready, the burgers will be medium brown, crisp and fully cooked inside. To serve, spread the mayonnaise on the bottoms of the rolls, and place a burger on each one. Spoon the pesto on generously and top with the roll tops.

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