Your Memorial Day Menu Reinvented: Latin Style
Memorial Day Weekend is quickly approaching and I have finally completed my BBQ menu for a small group of friends and family. My friends, also foodies at heart, appreciate local, fresh ingredients and are willing to try pretty much anything I whip up. Now don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with the classic hamburger and hot dog combo. But this year, I decided to spice things up a bit and reinvent my menu… Latina style! Forget the boring hamburgers. How about cheddar jalapeno chicken burgers with homemade guacamole? Yum. And that’s not all. I’ve done my research and successfully spiced up many classic American BBQ dishes – everything from your corn on the cob to chicken wings.
When my guests arrive, they’ll be greeted with Coconut Creamsicle Margaritas (recipe courtesy of my foodie friend, Chelsea) – a dreamy mix of grand marnier, orange juice, silver tequila and coconut milk. Don’t forget the lime and simple syrup. Dress up the glasses with unsweetened shredded, toasted coconut and some orange slices. If they prefer something on the spicy side, they’ll go for the Mango Jalapeno Margarita. Grand marnier, jalapeno tequila, lime juice, mango simple syrup, fresh mango and jalapeno – to die for. (These recipes and many more, are available on Chelsea’s “go-to” site howsweeteats.com… sweet!)
Appetizers are equally as important as killer cocktails. I’m talking about fresh mango chutney, homemade guacamole and fresh salsa – all served with toasted lime chips. Because let’s be honest – margaritas and guac go together like PB&J. The great thing about guacamole is it’s super easy to make. Fresh, ripe avocados, diced green chilies, cilantro, fresh lime juice, garlic, tomato, onion, & a little salt – that’s it. Throw it all in a bowl and mash it up. (My friend Chelsea always adds some adobo for that extra oomph.)
Fresh salsa can be reinvented with fresh mango and diced jalapenos – add some of these eccentric ingredients to your regular salsa for a definite crowd-pleaser. As for the mango chutney, it’s a unique mix of onion, mangoes, chilies, curry powder, ginger , salt and white wine vinegar. There are many different versions of this south Asian condiment – so choose what appeals to you and invent your own!
For the main course, I’m all about presentation. I plan on grilling up some steaks (most likely skirt steaks – marinated the night before in a top secret mix of spices and sauces), some Latin style wings, grilled corn on the cob with paprika and lime, charred asparagus, cedar barbecued salmon, and of course my cheddar jalapeno chicken burgers. Talk about a spread. Now, you can alter this menu in any way you’d like, but I prefer to grant my guests a wide variety of choices.
Chicken, beef, fish, fresh vegetables – that way no one leaves hungry. While the steak and wings are self-explanatory, the cedar barbecued salmon should be put on a cedar plank that has been soaked in water for 15 minutes. After placing the salmon on the plank, coat it with olive oil, soy sauce, spice and thin slices of lemon. (Barbecue the salmon for 15-20 minutes, or until the fish is no longer bright pink and flakes easily with a fork.)
Charred asparagus is super easy to make – just clean the asparagus, place on a sheet of tin foil and mix with olive oil, fresh garlic, hot pepper and some breadcrumbs. (Panko work the best due to the texture.) As for the corn on the cob, soak the corn in water for about 10 minutes prior to grilling. Take out, dry, rub in a mix of olive oil, paprika and fresh lime. BBQ for 15-25 minutes depending on the heat of your barbecue.
I’ve saved the best for last – my cheddar jalapeno chicken burgers. A friend discovered this recipe off of pinterest and it’s been a favorite of mine, ever since. Ground chicken, grated cheddar, minced jalapeno, minced garlic and spices. You can recreate this burger however you’d like, depending on your available ingredients and preferences.
So light up the barbecue, make yourself a cocktail and get ready for an amazing Memorial Day weekend. Finalize your menu, buy your ingredients and start marinating your meat selections. I guarantee your guests will be impressed with the variety of choices and impressive combination of ingredients. No excuses, get cooking.