Planning your cookout for the Fourth of July? The standard menu: steaks on the grill, a salad and ice cream for dessert. Add a few condiments: steak sauce, salad dressing in a bottle, jars of ice cream toppings and you’re done. Simple, right? But what if you could create a gourmet version of this menu just under an hour?
Would your guests be impressed by the food and the ease with which you present this meal? I can assure it.
It can be done, and three chefs from the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group in Atlanta agreed to show us how.
Chef Charlie Schwab heads the kitchen at the Buckhead Diner. His contribution to this menu is a classic steak sauce, a Buckhead Diner standard. The recipe was created by Pano Karatassos, Buckhead Life Restaurant Group CEO and founder. This combination of kitchen pantry staples proves to be much greater than the sum of its parts.
The salad dressing is two recipes in one. The basis is a classic blue cheese dressing that gets a little crunch from finely chopped celery and shallot.
In an effort to update the traditional wedge salad, Atlanta Fish Market chef Robert Holley started playing around with the recipe and came up with a combination of brown sugar, balsamic and bacon that he swirls into the blue cheese dressing in order to introduce a whole new set of flavors.
For dessert, make-your-own ice cream sundaes are hard to resist. Pricci’s pastry chef Jennifer Etchison caps the meal with two classic sauces: hot chocolate fudge and creamy caramel. Add her salty, sweet candied nuts, and your dinner will have an unforgettable finish.
EASY CANDIED NUTS 2 cups pecans or walnuts
1 egg white
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 vanilla bean, split, scraped, seeds only, optional
2 teaspoons butter, optional
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Grease a baking sheet.
In a small bowl, mix nuts with egg white and stir to coat. Add sugar, salt and vanilla bean seeds, if using. Toss to coat. Spread nuts on baking sheet and bake 20 minutes or until lightly toasted. If using butter, add after nuts have cooked about 18 minutes.
Remove nuts from oven and allow to cool on parchment paper. If nuts stick together, separate while warm. Allow to cool completely before storing.
Per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 103 calories; 75 percent calories from fat; 1 g protein; 6 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 9 g fat (1 g saturated); no cholesterol, 62 mg sodium. PRICCI’S CARAMEL TURTLE ICE CREAM TOPPINGS
CREAMY CARAMEL SAUCE
Start to finish: 25 minutes / Servings: 20-24
21/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water and stir to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil and cook until mixture turns a light amber color, about 20 minutes. Do not stir again while mixture is boiling. Begin watching carefully after 15 minutes, because sugar begins to brown quickly and can burn in an instant.
When syrup has reached desired color, reduce heat and slowly add cream. Be careful as mixture will bubble and splatter. When all cream has been added, whisk sauce until cream has been incorporated and mixture is very smooth. Whisk in butter and salt to taste. Remove from heat. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Per serving: 158 calories; 45 percent calories from fat; trace protein; 21 g carbohydrates; no fiber; 8 grams fat (5 grams saturated); 28 mg cholesterol; 18 mg sodium. GOURMET HOT CHOCOLATE FUDGE SAUCE
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
12 ounces dark chocolate, cut into small pieces
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup liquor
1/4 cup granulated sugar
In a medium saucepan, combine corn syrup, water and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and stir in chocolate, cocoa, liquor and sugar. Whisk until smooth and remove from heat. Allow to cool before storing. Sauce may be used hot, warm or room temperature. Sauce may be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. It can be reheated easily in the microwave.
Per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 97 calories; 5 percent calories from fat; 1 g protein; 22 grams carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 1 g fat (trace saturated); no cholesterol; 33 mg sodium. BUCKHEAD DINER’S STEAK SAUCE 1 cup steak sauce
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
In a medium bowl, combine steak sauce, barbecue sauce, mustard, vinegar, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and pepper. Whisk thoroughly to combine. May be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 months.
Per serving: 41 calories; 15 percent calories from fat; 1 g protein; 7 g carbohydrates; 1 g fiber; 1 g fat (trace saturated); no cholesterol; 518 mg sodium.
Recipe from Charlie Schwab’s Buckhead Diner ATLANTA FISH MARKET WARM BACON BLUE CHEESE DRESSING 2 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
11/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
11/2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 cup minced celery
1 shallot, finely minced
11/2 cups blue cheese crumbles, divided
4 ounces bacon, finely diced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup light brown sugar, not packed
cup balsamic vinegar
Additional blue cheese and chopped chives for garnish
In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, Worcestershire and pepper. Stir in celery, shallot and 1 cup blue cheese crumbles. Taste and adjust for seasoning. May be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to two weeks. May be served at this point as blue cheese dressing.
In a small saucepan, cook bacon over medium-heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove 1 tablespoon crisp bacon and set aside for garnish.
Add onion to remaining bacon and fat and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add brown sugar, stir to combine and then pour in vinegar. Bring mixture to a boil and cook until liquid reduces by half, about 5 minutes. Allow to cool and stir in remaining half cup blue cheese crumbles. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, combine the reserved bacon-onion mixture with blue cheese dressing. In a large skillet, gently warm dressing mixture, being careful not to heat so much that the blue cheese melts. Pour dressing over salad. Garnish with chopped chives, blue cheese and reserved cooked bacon.
Per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 457 calories; 85 percent calories from fat; 8 g protein; 10 g carbohydrates; trace fiber; 45 g fat (11 grams saturated); 39 mg cholesterol; 667 mg sodium. What about that steak?
Schwab’s favorite cuts to grill are New York strip or rib-eye.
If you’re craving a burger, Schwab’s recipe is certified Angus ground chuck, an 80/20 blend ground twice, seasoned with just salt and pepper. Schwab recommends searching out certified Angus beef for its quality and flavor.
To properly grill the meat, take the meat out of the refrigerator 45 minutes to an hour before grilling.
If cooking over charcoal, light your fire, let it burn down to the coals and push them to one side of the grill. On the hot side, sear the meat on both sides to create grill marks. Then move it to other side and close the lid. Let the indirect heat cook the meat to the desired temperature.
If cooking on a gas grill, light only half and follow the same procedure.
Skip the fancy seasoning; salt and pepper is all you need with a good cut of meat. That and a good steak sauce, of course.
Once the meat reaches the desired temperature, take it off the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes before you cut into it. This allows the juices to settle back into the meat so they don’t rush out onto the plate when the meat is cut.
Your Fourth of July cookout has just been kicked up a notch.Start to finish: 30 minutes / Servings: 14-16 Recipe from Jennifer Etchison’s Pricci Total time: 10 minutes / Makes: 4 cups Recipe from Jennifer Etchison’s Pricci Start to finish: 5 minutes / Servings: 10-14 Start to finish: 30 minutes (15 minutes active) Servings: 8-10 Recipe from Robert Holley’s Atlanta Fish Market