Monday, July 5, 2010

4th of July

Happy Interdependence Day!  It was 90+ degrees and a beautiful sunny day.  My parents came to celebrate, and to enjoy some fireworks.  Unfortunately, Macy's changed the location of the big display.  We did not have a good view.  Fortunately Mother Nature provided a brilliant sunset.

I planned a simple menu with minimal cooking.   I mixed all of the vinaigrettes, syrups and sauces the night before.  Also, Bill and I made the appetizers and dessert on Friday night.  In the morning, I made the cacik, potato salad, coleslaw and put the chicken in the crockpot.

Appetizer: Cacik, Barnacle Baba with Crackers
Main: Pulled Chicken
Sides: Simple Coleslaw, Green Bean and Potato Salad
Beverages: Lemonade and Iced Tea
Dessert: Small Batch - Big Cookie, Watermelon, Coffee Float

Pulled Chicken
2 1/2 - 3 lbs chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and de boned
Potato rolls
1 T paprika
1/2 T brown sugar
1/2 T ground cumin
1/2 T granulated sugar
1 t kosher salt
3/4 t ground black pepper

BBQ Sauce
1/4 C rice vinegar
1 T brown sugar
1/4 t hot sauce (I used orange habanero)
1/2 t kosher salt

Mix together rub ingredients in a large zip top bag and add chicken. Shake the bag, and press the rub into the chicken pieces. Marinate for at least 3 and up to 24 hours in refrigerator. Place in a crockpot and cook 10 - 12 hrs on low or 6 - 8 hrs on high.  Meanwhile, combine sauce ingredients in a jar and shake to combine.

Let rest for a half hour, still covered. Shred with forks and mix with barbecue sauce. Serve as a sandwich on potato rolls with cole slaw. Can be served warm or at room temperature.

Simple Coleslaw
1 head of bok choy finely sliced
1/4 C vinegar
1/4 C mayonnaise
1/2 t black pepper
1 t salt

Green Bean and Potato Salad with Blue Cheese
3/4 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 1" pieces
1 1/2 lbs potatoes, cut in chunks
2 ounces red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, mashed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 lb blue cheese, crumbled

Combine vinegar through salt in a jar, and shake to combine.  Add oil, and shake.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and set up a bowl of cold water.  Cook green beans until bright then remove from boiling water with a slotted spoon.  Drop into cold water until cooled, then drain.  Add potatoes to the boiling water and cook until tender.  Drain.  Combine beans potatoes in a large bowl and pour vinagrette over all.  Just before serving, garnish with blue cheese.

3/4 - 1 C sugar
1 C lemon juice
6 C Water

Make lemon syrup: combine sugar and lemon juice in a large jar and shake to dissolve sugar.  Store in the refrigerator. Before serving, combine syrup, water and ice in a pitcher.

Coffee Float
Brew a pot of your favorite coffee.  Pour into mugs, and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

The Verdict:
The chicken was spicy, tasty and literally fell apart when I stirred it with a pair of tongs.  Potato rolls are essential: they absorb the sauce without falling apart.  The coleslaw was very peppery, watery and needed a bit of sugar to balance.  I think it was due to the bok choy.  Next time I will make it with regular cabbage.

The potato salad was good, and I will make it again, but not with the chicken.  It has a strong flavor that is a bit much to pair with the spicy pulled chicken.  Next time I will make my grandmother's recipe. 

The lemonade was too strong, and needed twice the water.  The coffee float was a hit.

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