Aside from parades and fireworks, cookouts typically top the list of anticipated Fourth of July festivities. If you’re looking to take your grilling game to the next level, we’ve got just the thing: We asked the quartet of a New Jersey-based chef, caterer, nutritionist and wine expert to share their recipes and recommendations for a delicious, homemade Independence Day.

Here is our list of The Best Recipes for a Homemade 4th of July Barbecue:

BBQ Salmon with Pickled Onions, Corn Cake & Guacamole

Chef Eric LeVine, chef and partner of Morris Tap & Grill and Paragon Tap & Table, serves up a fish dish that proves you don’t need to travel to the Jersey Shore to enjoy tempting seafood.

“This BBQ Salmon recipe is topped with guacamole and I know everyone has their own favorite recipe, so whip up yours or choose one from the market,” explains the Chopped champion. “I’ve also used a little bit of lemon oil as a garnish on the plate.”

BBQ Salmon

Ingredients –
8 skin-on salmon fillets
2 tsp. oil
1¼ tsp. salt
3 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. black pepper

Homemade BBQ

Method
— Prepare barbecue grill for direct grilling on medium heat. Brush grate until very clean.
— Combine brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper and set aside. Pat salmon fillets dry.
— Brush fillets all over with oil; sprinkle with salt. Coat flesh sides with BBQ rub. Place skin side down, on the grill. Cover; cook without turning over 14 minutes or until just opaque. Start checking the salmon at 10 minutes. — — Using a metal spatula, remove salmon fillets from the grill. If the skin sticks to the grate, remove the fillet and discard skin.

Corn Cakes

Ingredients –
1 c fresh corn kernels
1/4 c chopped green onions
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 large eggs, separated
1/4 c flour
1/4 c yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Method
— In a blender or food processor, pulse corn and green onions until almost smooth.
— Transfer to a large bowl and stir in 2 tbsp. oil and the egg yolks.
— Combine flour, cornmeal, salt, and pepper. Add to corn mixture and mix thoroughly but gently.
— Whisk or beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold into corn mixture.
— Heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, drop large spoonfuls of the corn mixture into pan.
— Cook about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until cakes are browned and cooked through.

Pickled Onions

Ingredients –
½ large red onion, sliced thin
½ cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt

Method
In an empty jar that has a tight lid, combine the vinegar, sugar and salt. Cap the jar and shake until the sugar and salt dissolve. Place the onions inside and shake to ensure the onions are covered. Place in the refrigerator. Onions are ready in 1 hour but can be left to pickle up to 1 week.

Chipotle Sauce

Ingredients –
¼ C mayonnaise
1 tsp. Chipotle paste
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp chopped cilantro

Method
— Mix all ingredients together and hold for plating.
— When ready to serve, place one corn cake on each plate, top with pickled onions, BBQ salmon, a dollop of chipotle sauce and top with 1 tbsp. of guacamole. Drizzle some lemon oil on each plate, if using.


Five Sisters Smoked Pulled Pork

If you’ve got a smoker you’re dying to put to work this July 4th, Five Sisters Catering has the ultimate pulled pork recipe.

“Our dry rub recipe will give you an incredibly sweet and spicy bark, and will definitely become a mainstay of your barbecue creations,” notes Libby Miller, owner of Five Sisters Catering. “Remember, a slow and low approach in your smoker is the ticket to this award-winning pork.”

Homemade BBQ

Smoked Pulled Pork

Ingredients –
One 6-7 pound Boston Butt pork
Dry rub (see recipe below)

Method
— Rinse and thoroughly dry the meat. Oil the meat with vegetable oil, coating all surfaces. This will help the rub adhere.
– Cover your Boston Butt generously with Rub (recipe below). This creates the bark on the outside. You can start cooking right away, but if you let it sit for at least an hour, the rub will set in.
— Fire up your smoker to about 225°F. We use a mix of Cherry and Oak hardwoods, this will give you an awesome smoke ring and a sweet hearty taste. Put the meat on the grate, not in a pan, fat side down. Check your cooker to make sure you are holding at 225°F. Add additional wood when necessary. Cook 1-1.5 hours per pound of meat.
— When your Butt’s internal temp hits 195°-200F, it’s ready to take out.
— Let it rest for about 30 minutes. It’s now ready to be pulled!
— Serve your pulled pork topped with iPigRoast coleslaw on a bun with your favorite iPigRoast BBQ Sauce.

iPigRoast Dry Rub

Ingredients –
6 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar 6 Tablespoons white sugar
4 Tablespoons paprika
2 Tablespoons course salt
2 Tablespoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoons each: ground black pepper, ground ginger powder and onion powder

Method:
— Mix all ingredients in a bowl with fork and store in an air-tight container.


Strawberry Cheesecake

Why not end the meal with a cool and creamy dessert that’s both light and delicious? Nutritionist and cookbook author Lauren Kelly shares her recipe for a simple but sweet cheesecake that even non-cheesecake fans can devour. Want to make this dish a bit more patriotic? Toss on some blueberries.

Ingredients –
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon plus 3⁄4 cup unrefined sugar, divided use
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about 1⁄2 medium lemon’s worth)
2 eggs
3 cups strawberries

Method
Homemade BBQ— Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 9″ pie pan or springform pan and set aside.
— In a small bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs, butter, cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon sugar. Press the mixture into the prepared pie pan, making sure to press evenly on the bottom and the sides of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
— While baking, place strawberries in a blender until smooth. Add cream cheese, Greek yogurt, remaining sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon juice in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed. When the mixture is almost smooth, add the eggs, one at a time, on low speed. Continue to beat on low speed until smooth.
— Pour into the pie pan and bake for 60 minutes until the edges are golden brown. The middle will not be completely set. Cool on the counter for at least 30 minutes, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
— Serve cold.


Red, White, and ‘Blue’ Wine Recommendations

Hank Zona of The Grapes Unwrapped offers some colorful suggestions to complement your new dishes:

Red:
The wine guru recommends an “earthy” red, the Estate Syrah ($25) from three-time “NJ Winery of the Year” Heritage Vineyards in Mullica Hill, NJ, to pair perfectly with your grilled burger.

White:
Zona says Unionville Vineyards’ Eureka White Montage (a blend
of Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer, $19), is a “delicious white blend from the heart of the historic ‘Colonial Crescent’” which pairs nicely with Asian or Latin fusion main courses or sides.

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 9.03.13 PM

Blue:
Zona suggests Pittstown’s Beneduce Vineyards Blue 2 Estate Grown Blaufrankisch ($28.99).
“Just a touch of cracked pepper and blueberry will pair nicely with grilled meats with a touch of barbecue sauce,” he says.

Looking to step up your kitchen game? Click Here to see Best of NJ’s Top Recipes & Kitchen Tips!


Hero (Top) Feature Image: © arinahabich / Adobe Stock
Additional Images (in Order) Courtesy:
Eric Levine
Five Sisters Catering
Lauren Kelly
Beneduce Vineyards

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