Written by Oyster Bay’s Own Chef Alan Zox, Ph.D Thursday, 03 July 2014 00:00
In the United States, July 4th represents the founding of our nation and the holiday Americans recognize as their Independence Day. This remarkable event first took hold on July 2, 1776 when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence first proposed by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia.
After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, explaining its decision which finally was approved on July 4th. Historians argue over whether it was
actually signed then or a month later. But in either case, the American experience continues to symbolize freedom in the 21st Century as most eloquently proposed by Thomas Jefferson and the framers of the Constitution. And what a remarkable event it was for Americans and others who value freedom and independence throughout the world.
Here in the United States there are millions of new citizens and others who wish to become so who view the American experience as no less special for themselves or their place of origin. Virtually all of us came from somewhere else that defines who we are and how we got here. Most of us define ourselves by both our country of origin and by our newly adopted homeland.
I promise this won’t be your run of the mill enchilada or quesadilla at your favorite cafe. Nor will it do justice to all of the cultures and celebrations that other Americans value. But it begins to reflect the range of people who call themselves Americans and who value the constitutional freedoms that July 4th represents.
1. Mexican corn on the cob
2. Homemade tomato salsa and chips
3. Poblanos stuffed with shredded chicken
4. Grilled bluefish and halibut on skewers
5. Frozen fruit pops
Mexican Corn On The Cob
Cut or break 12 ears in half. Pull the stalk off the cob and roast the ears of corn on a very hot grill about 1 1/2 minutes per side until somewhat blackened — turn 3 times. Remove from the grill and brush a light covering of Hellman’s Mayonnaise on each ear. Coat with shredded Parmesan cheese on all sides. Lightly season each ear with chili powder and smoked paprika. Finish by squeezing juice of 1⁄4 lime per ear. Insert a wooden stick in each end or eat by holding corn with aluminum foil. Very tasty, so you may want to prepare more. And by the way, sodium is not required.
Serves 12-18 people
Blend two 15-ounce cans of plum tomatoes — pulse 2-3 times leaving somewhat chunky. Add 1/2 cup diced Vidalia onion with one diced jalapeño, removing seeds and pith first.
Add juice of 1 lime and 2 tablespoons traditional rice wine vinegar. Briefly pulse the blender one more time. Add sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne to taste. Have plenty of taco chips on hand. Homemade salsa is hard to resist.
Either use fresh corn tortillas sliced into eighths or 3-4 large bags of chips.
Poblanos Stuffed With Shredded Chicken (also called Chiles En Nogada)
Serves 12 stuffed whole chiles or 24 stuffed chile halves
Roast 12 poblano chiles at 425F for 20 minutes; turn once and roast an additional 25 minutes. Remove and steam by placing a towel over chiles. Cut a thin slice in each chile from stem to end to enable stuffing.
Peel and remove the seeds under warm water. Roasting and peeling enhances the flavor dramatically. It’s okay if some parts are blackened more than others. When finished, place each whole chile in a large casserole dish ready to be stuffed.
Next roast 5 large chicken breasts at 350F. Lightly season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Insert 1/2 tablespoon of butter under the skin of each breast. Roast for 45-60 minutes and remove from oven. Chicken is done at 165 F or when chicken is white, not pink, but still juicy. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cut the breasts off their bones and shred or pull apart by using two forks — not unlike “pulled pork.”
Place all shredded chicken with skin removed into a large bowl. Add a picadillo mixture consisting of 1/4 cup currents or chopped raisins, 1/4 cup toasted and chopped walnuts, 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro. Mix all together. Carefully fill roasted poblanos with the picadillo mixture. If chiles are torn, merely borrow a piece from one of the others and place on top of the torn chile.
Lastly, pour one 8-ounce can of evaporated milk and 1 tablespoon of sugar into a small saucepan. Heat until sugar dissolves. When ready to serve, reheat chiles for 10 minutes at 400F; remove and pour evaporated milk over chiles. Place a small handful of red pomegranate seeds without the pith over all chiles, which now have the colors of the Mexican flag — red, white and green. Very festive, no?
To serve smaller portions of Chiles en Nogada, cut the chiles in half with an 8-inch wide piece of aluminum foil underneath. Fill each half with the chicken picadillo. Pour the evaporated milk over the top with a small handful of pomegranate seeds. Wrap the stuffed chile and stuffing with the foil, reheat and serve.
Marinate a couple of pounds of skinless bluefish and halibut chunks — cut each into 2-inch chunks in size. Soak your skewers in water for 10 minutes so they don’t catch fire. Marinate with 1/4 cup each of light soy, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, juice and zest of 1 whole lime; and 2 tablespoons canola oil. Mix and pour over fish and vegetables for 15 - 20 minutes in a large bowl. Finally, skewer with alternating pieces of Vidalia onion, green peppers, and 2-inch square chunks of bluefish and halibut.
Grill the skewers for 1 minute on each of two sides. Remove and stuff hot dog buns with the mixture or place skewer on side of cooked yellow rice seasoned with turmeric, and thin slices of 4 garlic cloves. Top with 1-inch square fresh pineapple chunks.
2 cups frozen mango slices, thawed
1/4 cup apple juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 pinch salt
2 cups frozen blueberries, thawed
1/4 cup apple juice
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 pinch salt
Combine mango pop ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into 3-ounce plastic cups. Repeat process with blueberry pop ingredients. Cover all cups with foil and insert pop sticks through the center of the foil into the cups. Place all cups in freezer for at least 5 hours or overnight. To remove each pop from the cup submerge the bottom 2/3 of the cup in hot water for about five seconds, holding the cup with one hand pull the stick slowly to easily remove the cup for a quenching, healthy delight.