Labor Day
Say Goodbye to Summer with These 5 Labor Day Cookout Recipes
All this delicious food will make it easier to brace for the end of all that warm weather.
08-28-2017
America's Test Kitchen

It’s hard to believe, but summer is all but over. Though Labor Day isn’t the official end of summer, this long weekend’s festivities tend to mark the end of fun in the sun and the ushering in of autumn. (Not to throw shade on autumn, which we love. It’s just . . . not summer.)

Whether you’re mourning summer’s end or celebrating the conclusion of another memorable season of outdoor cooking, you should do it with delectable food. Here are five recipes we think you should make for your Labor Day bash.

Pita Bread Salad with Tomatoes and Cucumber (Fattoush)

Those tomatoes you’re growing on your porch are at their peak right now—it’s time you put them to good use. This Middle Eastern salad is at its best when it combines fresh, flavorful produce with crisp pita chips and bright herbs. Many recipes eliminate excess moisture from the salad by taking the time-consuming step of seeding and salting the cucumbers and tomatoes. We skip these steps in order to preserve the crisp texture of the cucumber and the flavorful seeds and jelly of the tomatoes. How do you keep your pita bread from getting soggy? Brush it with olive oil and bake it.

Grilled Corn with Flavored Butter

Another in-season vegetable—especially if you’re in the northeast—is corn. Instead of boiling it, we think you should throw it on the grill and slather it in some basil and lemon flavored butter. To infuse grilled corn with the flavor of herbed and spiced butters, we first char the corn over a hot fire and then transfer it to a roasting pan full of flavored butter. We cover the pan with aluminum foil and continue to cook the sweet, toasted ears over the flame until they pick up flavor.

Grilled Chicken Souvlaki

That’s right, more Mediterranean food. Chicken souvlaki is almost always made with chunks of boneless skinless breasts, which have a marked tendency to dry out when grilled. To prevent this, we swap the traditional overnight soak in an acidic marinade for a quick 30-minute brine while the grill heats. We then toss the chunks of chicken in a flavorful mixture of lemon, olive oil, herbs, and honey right before grilling. To prevent the end pieces from overcooking, we protect the chicken by threading pepper and onion pieces on the ends. Once cooked, the chicken is tossed with reserved sauce to ensure that the exterior is brightly flavored and just as tender and moist as the interior.

Ultimate Charcoal Grilled Steaks

The cooking method for these steaks is a bit unconventional, but you’ll find it’s worth eschewing conventional wisdom once you take your first bite. Here’s the deal: For a steak that delivered a perfectly brown crust, even doneness, and a narrow gray band—plus, flavor from the grill—we ditched the actual grill in favor of a superhot charcoal chimney. Skewering the steaks and laying them over the chimney made for a secure, easy-to-manage setup and more even browning across the entire surface of the steaks. After trimming the steaks’ fat caps in order to eliminate flare-ups, we score the steaks for better browning. We bake the steaks, well salted to ensure seasoning throughout, slowly in a low oven to cook them evenly and dehydrate their surfaces before blasting them over the chimney for about 60 seconds per side.

Ginger Frozen Yogurt

This frozen yogurt is dense and creamy without being rock hard. The key? Strain excess liquid from the yogurt, and use Lyle’s Golden Syrup in place of some of the granulated sugar. Unlike granulated sugar, which is made up of larger sucrose molecules, Lyle’s is about 50 percent invert sugar, which is made up of smaller glucose and fructose molecules. These smaller molecules are much better at depressing freezing point, so more of the water in our frozen yogurt base stayed in liquid form, delivering a frozen yogurt that not only contained fewer ice crystals but also was more scoopable straight from the freezer.

Bookstore

The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook

Bring the Mediterranean—from Italy and Greece, to Morocco and Egypt, to Turkey and Lebanon—into your kitchen with 500+ fresh, flavorful recipes. This comprehensive cookbook translates the famously health Mediterranean diet for home cooks with a wide range of creative recipes, many fast enough to be made on a weeknight, using ingredients available at your local supermarket. 

 

What do you plan on cooking for your Labor Day party? Let us know in the comments!

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