Out with the old; in with the new. That counts for a lot in some circumstances, but not recipes.
Old recipes can be great recipes. Ones you never throw away. That you cherish. That you cut out and put away (or lose and regret it) because everybody raved about that potato salad, that frozen dessert, that tangy pulled pork sandwich.
Anyone who cooks knows old is terrific, outstanding, applauded.
And, any food editor will tell you that sometimes you just need some help by looking back and seeking out what was special.
That’s what I did for this 2015 Labor Day party menu. I looked back at Labor Day food stories from the past decade and picked some recipes readers commented on favorably, telling me they would put them away and use them again.
That’s my litmus test for good food. Labor Day celebrating deserves good food. Here it is.
HICKORY-BARBECUED CHICKEN (2012)
4 whole chicken legs, each 10 to 12 ounces, cut into thighs and drumsticks
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
2 large handfuls hickory wood chips, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
In a small bowl, mix the rub ingredients. Season the chicken thighs and drumsticks all over with the rub.
Prepare the grill for direct and indirect cooking over medium heat, 350 to 400 degrees.
In a medium saucepan, combine the sauce ingredients. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Brush the cooking grates clean. Cook the chicken, skin side down first, over direct medium heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until golden brown, 6 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Move the chicken over indirect medium heat.
Drain the wood chips and add them to the smoker box of a gas grill, following manufacturer’s instructions. Place the smoker box over direct heat. Close the lid and continue cooking until the juices run clear and the meat is opaque all the way to the bone, about 35 minutes, basting with the sauce and turning several times during the last 20 minutes of cooking time. Remove from the grill and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with any remaining sauce on the side.
Serves 4, each 2 pieces with skin and sauce has 607 calories, 31 grams fat, 20 grams carbohydrates, 61 grams protein, 1,516 mg sodium, 210 mg cholesterol, 1 gram fiber
“Weber’s Smoke: A Guide to Smoke Cooking for Everyone and Any Grill” by Jamie Purviance
Carolina-Style Wildfire Pork (2011)
1 boneless pork shoulder (3 pounds), trimmed of fat
1 bottle (17.5 ounces) Carolina Style Barbecue Sauce*
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Place meat in slow-cooker. Mix remaining ingredients; pour over meat. Cover with lid.
Cook on low 8 to 10 hours (or on high 5 hours).
To serve: Chop or pull meat apart and keep warm in the cooker.
Serves 12, each with 290 calories, 12 grams fat, 75 mg cholesterol, 530 mg sodium, 22 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 20 grams sugar, 22 grams protein.
*A Carolina-style sauce typically has a mustard base.
Tip: Meat can be prepared ahead of time. Cool, then refrigerate up to 2 days. Reheat in microwave or on stove top just before serving.
A note about fresh mozzarella: Compared to the more firm texture of most commercially produced mozzarella, fresh mozzarella is soft and moist. The flavor is mild, delicate and somewhat milky. Fresh mozzarella is usually shaped into balls and stored in brine. After buying fresh mozzarella, it should be refrigerated in the brine and eaten within a few days.
I have made this salad without the mint and parsley and it turned out just great.
Mozzarella & Tomato Salad (2010)
6 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 cartons (8 ounces each) fresh mozzarella cheese pearls, drained
1/3 cup minced fresh basil
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons minced fresh mint
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 medium ripe avocados, peeled and chopped
In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, cheese, basil, parsley and mint; set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. Pour over tomato mixture; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
Just before serving, stir in avocados. Serve with a slotted spoon.
Makes 8 servings, each 3/4 cup with 305 calories, 26 grams fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 309 mg sodium, 8 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 11 grams protein.
Simple & Delicious, July/August 2009
Potato and Green Bean Salad (2005)
2 pounds baby red potatoes
1 pound green beans, rinsed and stems trimmed
1 medium sweet onion, coarsly chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil leaf
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Boil the potatoes until fork-tender. The time varies depending on the size of the potatoes. Drain. If the red potatoes are not small, cut into halves or quarters after cooking.
2. Boil the green beans until firm-tender. The time varies depending on the size of the beans. The beans should still have a bit of crispness. Drain.
3. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, green beans, onion and basil.
4. While the potatoes and beans are cooking, whisk all the Balsamic vinaigrette ingredients together.
5. Add in the Balsamic vinaigrette mixture to the warm potato/bean mixture; toss well to coat.
6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Serve chilled or room temperature.
Servings: 6, each with 332 calories, 19 grams fat, 32 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein
Frozen Fruit Salad (2006)
8 ounces cream cheese (softened)
3/4 cup sugar
12-ounce package frozen strawberries (thawed)
20-ounce can crushed pineapple (drained)
2 bananas (sliced), optional
1 cup pecans (chopped)
8-ounce container whipped topping, thawed
In the bowl of a mixer, beat together cream cheese and sugar. Add strawberries, pineapple, bananas and pecans; blend on low. Use a spatula to fold in whipped topping.
Pour in a 9-by-13-inch (or 10-inch square) pan. Freeze overnight. Thaw for 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Serves 12.
Taste-of-the-Islands Bananas Foster Trifle (2011)
10.75-ounce package frozen pound cake thawed
8-ounce can pineapple tidbits in juice
3.4-ounce package instant coconut or banana cream pudding and pie filling
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons coconut extract, divided
1 cup caramel topping
3 bananas thinly sliced
2/3 cup shredded coconut toasted
1/3 cup macadamia nuts finely chopped
Cut pound cake into 1-inch cubes. Set aside. Drain pineapple; reserving juice.
Place pudding mix, whipping cream, sour cream, sugar, reserved pineapple juice and 1 teaspoon coconut extract in a large bowl. Beat at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
Combine remaining 1 teaspoon coconut extract and caramel topping in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high until warmed.
Layer pound cake cubes in 4 martini or dessert glasses. Drizzle caramel topping mixture over pound cake. Top with coconut cream mixture and bananas.
Garnish with pineapple tidbits, toasted coconut and macadamia nuts. Makes: 4-6 servings.
Note: This recipe also works well in a trifle bowl.