UP IN SMOKE
FOURTH OF JULY
July 4th is one of the year’s most anticipated holidays at the Raichlen home. Steven, fresh off his annual multi-month book tour, hungers to embrace the slower, take-a-breath pace of Martha’s Vineyard. He and his wife, Barbara, look forward to hosting family and friends for an epic Independence Day feast, featuring locally-sourced clams (dug by Steven himself), wild blueberries (picked from bushes that line the driveway), local lobster, peak season peaches, etc.
Here’s a sneak peek at the menu they’ve chosen for this year’s celebration, as well as a couple of recipes you’ll want to add to your 4th of July repertoire.
THIS YEAR’S RAICHLEN FAMILY JULY 4TH MENU
* Recipes provided for starred dishes.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped chives, tarragon, and/or basil
2 1-1/2 pound lobsters
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Make the fried caper butter: Melt the butter in a saucepan (you can do this on the stove, the grill, or on your grill’s side burner). Add the capers, garlic and herbs and cook over medium-high heat until sizzling, fragrant, and just beginning to brown, 2 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Remove the pan from the heat.
Bring 3 inches of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the lobsters and cook, covered, over high heat for 3 minutes. Drain the lobsters and let cool, then, working on a grooved cutting board, cut the large claws off the lobsters and set aside. (Discard the rubber bands.) Using a large heavy chef’s knife, cut each lobster in half lengthwise. Remove the paper sack in the head and the vein running the length of the tail. You can leave or discard the tomalley (the green stuff—actually the liver, or if you have a female, the blackish-blue stuff, which is the roe). I love both, so I keep them. Save any juices that may gather on the cutting board. Season the lobster with salt and pepper right before grilling.
Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. Under the best of circumstances and for the best flavor, you’d be grilling on wood. Brush and oil the grill grate.
Arrange the lobster claws on the grill and grill until orange and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Move to a cooler part of the grill to keep warm. Arrange the lobster bodies on the grate, cut side down, and grill until the meat starts to brown, 3 minutes. Turn the lobsters over and pour any reserved juices over them. Continue grilling the lobster until the meat is cooked through 4 to 6 minutes. Start basting the cut side of the lobster with the caper butter after 2 minutes and baste again right before serving.
Serve the lobster at once with metal crackers for the claws. Reheat the caper butter and serve it in ramekins for dipping. Eat with your hands. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Time: 30 minutes
1 cup mascarpone cheese at room temperature
2 teaspoons Amaretto liqueur, or to taste
4 luscious ripe freestone peaches (the sort that go splat when you drop them)
1/2 cup granulated sugar in a shallow bowl
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
Cast iron chapa, plancha, or 10-inch cast iron skillet (optional)
Place the mascarpone in a serving bowl and whisk in the Amaretto to taste. Set aside.
Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. Ideally, you’ll be working over a wood fire. Place the plancha, chapa or skillet on the grate and heat it very hot. (To check the heat, sprinkle a few drops of water on it. They should sizzle and evaporate within 2 seconds.)
Break each peach in half through the crease: the edges needn’t be perfectly smooth. Discard the stones (seeds). Arrange on a platter. Have the sugar in a bowl by the grill.
Place a piece of butter in each quadrant of the plancha. As it melts, dip the flat side each peach half in sugar, then arrange on the melted butter. Cook the peaches until the bottoms are very dark brown—almost black—2 to 3 minutes. The idea is to caramelize them as darkly as possible without quite burning them. Transfer the peach halves to bowls or plates, 2 to a bowl. Spoon dollops of the amaretto mascarpone on top and serve at once.
Have a happy, safe, and smokin’ holiday!
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