Hot, Hot, Hot! Spicy Food Recipes for your July 4th Celebration
Stick with the pyrotechnic theme of our nation’s birthday by serving an array of explosively-flavored foods at your backyard bash. Not only do spicy foods help keep you cool in hot weather (it’s no coincidence that chile heat is appreciated in the world’s warmest climates, from Jamaica to Malaysia), but according to the Cleveland Clinic, fiery foods have several health benefits. Among them:
- Capsaicin, the compound that gives chile peppers their sting, boosts a body’s metabolism, enabling it to burn fat and produce energy more efficiently;
- Some studies indicate spicy foods may reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes;
- Improves microbiome concentration for gastrointestinal health;
- Reduces inflammation.
Of course, we love the effect spices have on bland foods, from white meat chicken to fish and shellfish to potatoes. So don’t apologize if your pantry shelves or refrigerator are overrun with hot sauces and dried and fresh chiles.
Below are some of our favorite fiery recipes for a scorching flavor-filled Fourth of July!
Spicy Food Recipes
Spicy, smoky, and undeniably addictive, Nashville-style chicken was supposedly invented when a scorned woman made what she hoped was an incendiary snack for her philandering partner. To her dismay, he thought the chicken was wonderful—not a punishment at all.
The best regional barbecue you’ve never heard of—it comes from Monroe County, Kentucky. These pork shoulder steaks are grilled over a hickory fire and basted with a spicy, puckery vinegar dip.
Originally grown in Brazil and introduced to the Europeann and South African continents by Portuguese mariners, piri piri chiles have been made famous by the Nando’s fast food chain. (Nando’s hot sauce is available online or in larger supermarkets.)
Another incendiary shrimp preparation we’ve come to love are grilled shrimp tacos dosed with a toes-curling sauce that gets its heat from habanero chiles. Until 1999, the hababero was thought to be the hottest pepper in the world. They have since been displaced by other varieties.
Despite its alarming name, this lamb relies on relatively mild jalapeños for its spice. Cool the fires with yogurt-based raita. (Dairy-based drinks or sauces are more effective than water at taming the heat. Water simply spreads the fiery oils around in your mouth.)
The ultimate primal grilling—T-bone steaks charred directly on the embers and topped with a blisterinng sauce of jalapeños, cilantro, and garlic. It’s a great preparation when you’re cooking over a campfire. (Works with thick porterhouses, too.)
Here’s one of the most authentic jerk chicken recipes you’ll find north of Montego Bay. Allow at least 12 hours for marinating the chicken, and if you can find it, grill over pimento (allspice) wood. Serve with grilled pineapple, plantains, or coconut rice.
Chipotle chiles (smoked jalapeños) in canned adobo sauce are wonderful with pork and chicken and are widely available in supermarkets throughout the country. Leftovers can be frozen.