Very good friends of mine invited me to join them for the 4th of July. We celebrated with their gourmet group, all of whose company I enjoy last Thanksgiving. The host’s home is beautiful, their backyard the perfect setting for a lively and entertaining gathering.
A little about the gourmet group
Four couples started meeting every two months about 10-12 years ago. Originally, the host couple would create the menu, and then send recipes for selected appetizers, desserts, side dishes, etc., out to the other three couples. A few years ago, they simplified the arrangement. Now, the host couple sends out a message to the group indicating what main course they will be serving. It’s up to the other couples to come up with dishes to compliment their choice. Sometimes the host couple will assign categories to the other couples, sometimes the categories are up for grabs.
Our host first smoked racks of ribs for three hours, wrapped then in foil and continued cooking them for two more hours. The final hour, the ribs were sauced in Ancho Molasses BBQ Sauce by Tom Douglas for Sur La Table. The meat was tender and the sauce, amazing!
Variation on a theme of Brick Chicken
I’m light on the details, so here’s a close approximation. Our host used a salt block instead of a brick.
Essentially, he removed the backbone from the chicken and flattened it out. Rubbed it down with oil and spices, and then set it on the grill. On top of the chicken, he placed the salt block that had been heated while the grill was coming up to temperature.
I don’t recall the exact cooking times, but I think I remember the chicken cooked for about 15 minutes on each side. While the chicken was resting, our host grilled lemons. Salt brick chicken and grilled lemons, incredible!
Our gourmand presented this lovely, soup in Martini glasses. Fantastic!
There was a green salad, macaroni salad, and bar-b-que baked bean, none of which I managed to acquire recipes. I was particularly fond of the macaroni salad. Maybe, if I bat my eyes, I can get the recipe out of the host. Think it will work?
Dessert was to die for. Imagine this, shortbread cookie layered with whipped cream doctored with orange zest and Grand Marnier, followed by a layered of strawberries topped with more orange flavored whipped cream.
Add a second layer. Now, imagine this delectable confection floating in a raspberry and strawberry puree infused with Chambord.
That ain’t no down-stream strawberry shortcake. A-frikkin’-mazing!
The hosts and guests were charming, the conversation scintillating, and the food was phenomenal.