Fourth of July, you say? But today is the first day of August! Yes, yes. However, I have been promising a recap of the menu for our Fourth of July Fiesta. I keep my promises! You’ve still got over a month of summer left, and this menu would be great for a cookout or barbecue whether with just your household or with several friends. It would also be a great way to say farewell to summer on a long, lazy Labor Day weekend.
I chose the dishes for our spread becuase many of them can be made a day ahead or the morning before a get together. All of the salsas are fair game. You’ll probably grill while guests are over, so the only things that need prepared immediately before serving are the guacamole and the tostones. The guacamole will turn brown over time, so it just gets unappetizing if you make it the day before. I’ll eat slightly brown guacamole left over, but let’s keep it appealing the first go round, shall we? The tostones are best served hot, although I’m known to nibble on them throughout an evening long after they’ve grown cold.
Now, let’s say you have some kitchen-savvy friends that want to bring something. Exercise those master delegation skills you picked up at work and have each friend bring one of the salsas listed below. Have another bring some tortilla chips. One can bring dessert, and one can bring margaritas/tequila. And so on. Then you’ve got even less to do, and you won’t have a hodge-podge of random foods that don’t go with your menu. Personally, I would love it if I asked a friend “What can I bring?” and I got e-mailed a recipe. Would love it. Performance anxiety out the window! If you’re not comfortable with this, go ahead and tell them “Paper plates” and commit to doing the cooking yourself. Just a suggestion.
Grilled Pork Tacos with Pineapple Salsa and Chunky Guacamole
The pork tenderloin filling is very spicy, but the sweetness of the pineapple salsa and creaminess of the guacamole tames it nicely. No other condiments needed! Plus, they’re great for dipping chips into so they serve double duty if you make extra. The pork is tender and bursting with juices due to the pineapple in the marinade. If you don’t grill with charcoal, it has a smokiness from the spice blend that lends it that complexity. The pork held up beautifully the next day, sliced cold from the fridge. If you have a nice, big grill, you can make a couple of tenderloins at the same time as well as your grilled corn.
Tostones with Salsa Criolla
Tostones are fried and crisp…….
Salsa criolla is fresh and tangy. I like to keep them separate until just before serving so that the tostones stay as crisp as possible. The salsa criolla is essentially a red onion quick-pickle, so the longer it sits the more mellow the onion flavor becomes and the more pickled the whole thing starts to taste. This is great made the day before. I like for it to come close to room temperature before serving.
Elote (Mexican Grilled Corn)
I’ll go ahead and admit that I didn’t make a fully traditional recipe for Elote here. I linked to Food Blogga’s, because if you want to go all out, that’s the way to go. However, I just don’t eat mayo. I also opted out of the sprinkle of cheese because I wanted the corn kept very, very light. Still, if I were you, I’d make hers (unless you’re also in the Mayo-Free Club). For the record, we soaked the corn with husks on for 30 minutes, rubbed it down with olive oil, grilled it, then sprinkled chili powder on it. I served it with lime to squeeze over. This is very tasty, but seriously – go check out Susan’s.
Tortilla Chips and Fresh Salsa
This is my go-to recipe for fresh salsa. It’s tangy, with lots of kick due to a healthy dose of lemon juice. I love the texture, because while it’s not in big chunks, it’s not smooth either. I use the food processor to mince this up. Now, while I have amounts of tomatoes and onion listed on the recipe, keep this in mind: you want more tomato than onion. So, if your onion is large and your tomatoes are small, adjust accordingly. You don’t want this salsa more oniony than tomatoey, especially if you’re serving salsa criolla with the tostones.
If you’re looking for a great margarita recipe, I’ve linked to a good basic one from The Kitchen Sink Recipes. Please don’t buy the mix. It’s full of high fructose corn syrup, and really – you can do better. It’s not any harder at all. If you’re blending, you might as well use triple sec. Hell, maybe even toss in a little Cointreau. And by all means, serve it in your Cactus Stem Margarita glasses.
A good fiesta is nothing if not a little cheesy.