Here it is: your Independence Day Menu

Complete with a shopping list for your appetizer, side, main and dessert

America’s birthday is this weekend and our country is open. I hope you’re either hosting or attending a killer party to celebrate the occasion, and I want to make it easy with your full menu:

  1. Appetizer: Smoked queso (you can make this recipe in your oven, too)

  2. Side: Simple coleslaw

  3. Main: My go-to pulled pork

  4. Dessert: Grilled maple bourbon glazed peaches

I’ll give you a full step-by-step, complete with your shopping list for each item below. Either cook it all or pick what works best for you! Let’s get to it.

This smoked queso will be a huge hit

This recipe is as simple as it gets but is always a winner.

Grocery list:

  • One block of velveeta cheese

  • One pound of smoked Gouda

  • Two cans Rotel (you can use mild or hot, depending on your heat tolerance)

  • One pound ground meat (I’ve used ground beef, chorizo or bison)

  • One bunch cilantro

  • A bag or two of tortilla chips

Other things you’ll need:

  • 9x13 casserole dish or aluminum pan (I always use the latter for easy clean up).

  • Some of whatever beer you are drinking while you cook. If you don’t drink, beef broth, pineapple juice, or soda will work, too. 

  • Whatever BBQ rub sounds good to you. I’ve used Meatchelada from Hardcore Carnivore or SPG from Kosmos Q.

The prep:

  • Cut the block of velveeta and smoked Gouda into ½ inch cubes (or so).

  • Brown your meat. If you’re using beef or bison, season generously with your rub of choice. If you’re using chorizo, it’s plenty flavorful on it’s own.

  • Add meat and cheese into your casserole dish or aluminum pan.

  • Pour in both cans of Rotel.

  • Add a healthy dose of more rub.

  • Chop cilantro and set aside.

The cook itself:

  • Put the pan into your smoker (or oven) at about 300 degrees. If you’re using a smoker, I like using a apple wood.

  • Top with about 1/3 can of whatever beer you’re drinking for moisture. If you don’t want to use beer, I’d try some heavy cream or a can of cream of mushroom soup.

  • After 45 minutes, check on the queso and stir. Continue cooking until cheese is fully melted.

  • Once it’s ready, top with your chopped cilantro and serve.

This 6-ingredient slaw is the perfect side

Grocery list:

  • A couple bags of cabbage slaw mix

  • Duke’s mayo (only use a different type of mayo if you absolutely must)

  • A couple lemons (or lemon juice)

  • Apple cider vinegar

Other things you’ll need:

  • Sugar

  • Salt and pepper

The prep:

  • Combine all of the ingredients. This recipe is all to taste, so start small because you can always add more.

  • As a general guideline of where to start: a couple heaping spoonfuls of mayo, a quick pour of apple cider vinegar, a healthy pour of white sugar (I bet I use about ½ cup), and a couple tablespoons each of salt and pepper.

  • Top with either a quick squirt of lemon juice, or squeeze out ½ a lemon to start.

  • Mix and taste, adding more of any ingredients to your preferred texture and flavor.

The cook itself:

  • Ok, so there’s no cooking needed here. But I like to make this several hours before I serve it and set it aside, both so the flavors combine with one another and so that I don’t have to prep it when company is over.

  • This slaw is great on pulled pork sandwiches or as a standalone side. Enjoy!

Here’s the simplest pulled pork recipe I use

Pork shoulder is a great way to feed a lot of people for cheap, and it’s a forgiving cut of meat if you’re new to the smoking game.

Grocery list:

  • 1-2 bone-in pork shoulders. These are sometimes labeled as Boston butt’s in the grocery store. I tend to look for ones that are 7-9 pounds.

  • Yellow mustard. The cheap stuff is all you need.

  • Enough buns for however many people you’re feeding. I always use Martin’s Potato Rolls.

  • Your preferred bbq sauce. I like OP X-1 from Kosmos Q, but any tomato-based sauce from your grocery store will work, too. My only advice is to look for one that uses real sugar. Or, visit Walmart and get Fire and Smoke Society’s Original Savory BBQ Sauce.

Other things you’ll need:

The prep:

The cook itself:

Grilled peaches are the perfect summer dessert

Grocery list:

  • Peaches

  • Vanilla ice cream

  • Maple syrup

  • Bourbon, if you’d like to take it up a notch

Other things you’ll need:

  • A hot grill or smoker surface. I like to throw these on to my smoker if it’s still hot once the main course is served.

The prep:

  • Slice peaches in half, removing the pit.

The cook itself:

  • Place peach halves face down on grate for a few minutes until they start to soften.

  • Then flip, and use a basting brush to coat the face of each peach half with maple syrup, bourbon, or both.

  • Once soft and warm throughout, remove from heat, top with vanilla ice cream and enjoy.

Picture of the week:

I’ve done a lot of cooking since my last newsletter, so indulge me:

Tomahawk steaks caveman style

Pork belly burnt ends

A rare occasion where I’ll share something I didn’t cook: brisket, ribs, pork steaks, chicken and turkey from the world famous Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, TX. If you haven’t already, you must watch the Chef’s Table episode about Snow’s and their famous 86 year-old pit master, Tootsie.

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