With July 4th around the corner, there are a few things Texans have to look forward to: Extravagant displays of fireworks, American flags waving proudly about town and TONS of grilled meat. More grilled meat than you can shake a napkin at. Oftentimes, the spread at an American cook out can be predictable. However, one of Houston’s greatest traits is its diversity, which gives us access to more than just hotdogs, burgers and meats basted in sticky sweet bottled sauce. Celebrate this Independence Day by embracing the multi-cultural variety that makes this country (and Houston) so great. Sure, you could make everything from scratch, but with the day off work, we think it's time to relax. We recommend these pre-marinated, grill-ready delights to elevate your backyard barbecue and take all the guess work out of your July 4th menu.
Lamb Kufta Kekabs and Rosemary-Garlic Lamb Chops: Phoenicia Specialty Foods
Lamb kufta kebabs are an adventurous option for your next grilling party that can be found at Phoenicia Specialty Foods. This tasteful blend of ground lamb and Middle Eastern spices is formed into a cylindrical breakfast sausage shape that begs to be skewered over an open flame. Phoenicia also carries rosemary-garlic lamb chops—beautiful meat lollipops, marinated and ready to be the star at your next barbecue. If lamb isn’t your favorite, Phoenicia’s onsite butchers dish out about 50 pre-seasoned meats on year-round rotation to please any patriot’s palate. Many are locally sourced, antibiotic- and hormone-free and conform to the highest standards of halal preparation.
Black Angus LA Style Short Ribs (Korean Galbi): H-Mart
Korean barbecue found in restaurants, like bulgogi and galbi, is known for its addictive marinade and high price tag. H-Mart makes these pricey cuts more accessible without sacrificing any quality or flavor. In my experience, the prepared galbi at H-Mart has better fat marbling and ranks highest in terms of taste. Pair these mouthwatering LA-style crosscut beef short ribs with any number of the in-house prepared banchan (i.e. small traditional side dishes, typically consisting of vegetables), and a heap of steamed white rice for the ultimate Korean barbecue experience.
Stuffed Pork Tenderloin: Hebert’s Specialty Meats
Hebert’s, known best for their deboned poultry, is proving that their skills span far beyond stuffed birds. Their succulent stuffed pork tenderloin is marinated, then filled generously with cream cheese and jalapeños, all before being wrapped in… BACON! Perhaps they’re poking fun at their renowned Turducken by putting pork inside of pork. With dozens of grillable items, including boudin and shrimp diablo, Hebert’s will give your guests something to marvel at besides just fireworks this 4th of July.
Fajitas: El Tiempo Market
Everyone is familiar with the longstanding El Tiempo Cantina, proud affiliate of the original Ninfa's on Navigation. True Houstonians also know that Mama Ninfa Laurenzo is the one to thank for introducing fajitas to the United States. Her recipe still resonates in the hearts of hungry Texans, who can score loads of Mama Ninfa’s pre-marinated fajitas from El Tiempo Market. Bring the Tex-Mex home to make your next fiesta a surefire hit! And don’t forget to pick up some of El Tiempo Market’s freshly made tortillas—because eating fajitas with your bare hands is just unacceptable.
Chimichurri Sauce: Make this one at home!
Forget spending loads of money at a churrascaria. Hosting an asado or Argentinian barbecue, is a simple way to impress your guests that only takes a few ingredients: blazing hot coals, plainly seasoned meat (e.g. flank steak, beef ribs, tenderloin, etc.), and the ubiquitous Argentinian condiment, chimichurri. The pesto-like sauce has a million variations and can easily be made at home.
To retrieve the best recipe I consulted with Gustavo Vila, an Argentine native whose local line of sauces is set to launch in the fall of 2017. Gustavo, creator of the best chimichurris I have ever put in my mouth, comes from a long line of chefs who own several successful restaurants. He was generous enough to disclose his grandfather’s recipe, which has been passed down for three generations, so that you can add a little Argentinian spice to your next grilling get-together.
Gustavo’s Chimichurri Sauce Recipe
- 1 bunch parsley
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon pepper
- red chile flakes, to taste
- 1/2 lemon
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- Extra-virgin olive oil, just enough to cover
- 1/3 cup hot water + 1 tablespoon kosher salt
Stir together the hot water and 1 salt until dissolved. Mince the garlic, parsley and oregano very finely. Add the salt, pepper and red chile flakes to the garlic-herb mixture. Stir in the hot, salted water to the mix. This will break everything down to release the flavor and aromatics. Add lemon juice and vinegar. Finish with just enough oil to cover the sauce. Allow the sauce to cool down, and it’s ready to eat!