Fire up the barbecue and pull out your mother’s famous potato salad recipe, because the Fourth of July is right around the corner.
But as you plan out your menu for the Fourth, Hosea Rosenberg, chef and owner of Bacon, Inc., a catering and consulting service, says to keep things simple.
The Top Chef season five winner says that whether he’s hosting a backyard barbecue or bringing a side dish to one of his friends’ houses, it isn’t July Fourth without hot dogs, potato salad and watermelon. Rosenberg also suggests corn on the cob as an easyto-prepare vegetable alternative for vegetarians and an ice cream sundae bar for dessert.
“I like to keep it simple,” Rosenberg says. “On the Fourth of July you want everyone to be happy, but it’s not like you have to be gourmet. Keep it simple so you can spend time with friends and family and not be chained to the stove.”
Michael Drazsnzak, executive chef at Colterra Food and Wine restaurant, says that he tries to do some of the food and drink preparation the day before so that he’ll have more time to spend with his guests. Drazsnzak likes to serve pork ribs on the Fourth of July, and he usually smokes the meat overnight so that the next day he can just grill them on the barbecue alongside the bison burgers he prepares. This chef also grills chicken breasts for his guests who don’t eat red meat, as well as for children — Drazsnzak says kids love when this dish is paired with grilled vegetables or potato salad.
When it comes time to prepare beverages, Drazsnzak makes either sangria or margaritas.
“Sangria is a good way to go and really light and refreshing,” he says.
If he chooses the sangria, he prepares a mass quantity of the drink the night before his celebration by soaking fruit in red or white wine.
If he decides on the margaritas, Drazsnzak makes a big pitcher of the drink the morning of July Fourth and sets out glasses and ice so people can serve themselves.
Drazsnzak also likes to have some Izze sparkling juices on hand as a non-alcoholic option and beers made in local breweries.
“Beer in the cooler is an absolute must,” he says.
“There are so many great local microbreweries. Odell in Fort Collins is my favorite brewery.”
If he can find peaches that are firm enough, Drazsnzak grills them and serves them with homemade ice cream for dessert; other variations on this dish include grilled apples or grilled pears with ice cream.
Other prominent Boulder County residents, even the non-chefs, have distinctive flavor preferences on the Fourth.
CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn says he likes to keep things simple on the Fourth of July so that he can enjoy spending time with his family, friends and the Boulder community at Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast. Celebration attendees get to watch Ralphie the buffalo run, participate in a traditional sing-along, and witness a fireworks display.
Bohn says he has been attending the celebration at CU’s Folsom Field since he was a child.
“It’s always been a great celebration and way to celebrate our community and our patriotism, and see a good fireworks show,” Bohn says.
Before heading over to Folsom Field, Bohn says he attends the Wright Kingdom Real Estate’s July Fourth barbecue at Millennium Harvest House in Boulder. Bohn enjoys an Arnold Palmer and some hot dogs and hamburgers at the pre-fireworks barbecue, which the real estate company hosts every year for agents, clients and their families.
Like Bohn, Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle also partakes in community-wide celebrations on the Fourth of July.
“Given my job, we normally participate in at least a couple of different parades — the one in Superior and Niwot,” Pelle says. “We ride our horses, and after that’s over we go home and relax on the patio and do a cookout.”
Pelle says he likes to make traditional American cuisine like hamburgers, steaks, corn on the cob and fruit salad.
“One of my favorite things to do is make shish kabob with steak and peppers and potatoes and marinate them overnight, and when we get home, toss ’em on the grill,” says Pelle. “It’s kind of like a ready-to-go barbecue meal.”
For dessert, the Pelles bake cobbler in a cast-iron Dutch oven over the fire and serve it with a little ice cream on top.
So long as his work pager doesn’t go off, the Pelles end their July Fourth on their neighbors’ mesa, where they watch the sunset and neighboring cities’ fireworks displays light up the sky.
Boulder Mayor Susan Osborne spends her Fourth of July surrounded by family and friends at their cabin between Ward and Peaceful Valley. Party festivities include forest croquet, taking guests out on the small lake in their boat, and a potluck.
“All of the guests bring something, so it’s always a feast,” Osborne says. “My sister and granddaughters make an amazing red, white and blue jello mold and an American flag cake with whipped cream frosting, blueberries for the stars … and strawberries for red stripes.”
Osborne says other Fourth of July dishes include her own barley salad, the turkey her friend Crystal makes, and homemade peach ice cream that the Osbornes make at their cabin. She says that while there’s typically lemonade, beer and wine on hand at the party, her son-in-law’s mint iced tea is her favorite beverage.
No matter where you choose to spend the Fourth of July or what you decide to cook, most agree that you should keep it simple so you can enjoy your celebration with family and friends.