What Four First-Generation LA Chefs Are Grilling This 4th of July
Because any notion of “American” cuisine is by definition a thing that originated elsewhere
With the long weekend in sight, we decided that few activities would satisfy our twin hopes for the holiday — soaking in a shared sense of national pride while maxing out our grill’s ability to delight our friends and neighbors — than soliciting L.A.’s top immigrant chefs for their favorite July 4th recipes.
Below, find top grilling options from L.A.’s best and brightest first-generation Americans, from Wolfgang Puck (Austria) to Helene An (Vietnam).
Mini Kobe Cheeseburgers with Rémoulade
Chef: Wolfgang Puck of Spago and CUT
Born in Austria, Wolfgang Puck arrived in L.A. over 45 years ago. He’s built an empire here and around the world with swooningly delicious takes on everything from pizza to porterhouses. His grilling-at-home advice for these Kobe cheeseburgers is straightforward: “Cooking on a barbecue is simple,” he tells us, “but you have to start with good product. If you get great quality meat to grill, it will be delicious. Getting a good bun like a brioche compliments the burger, too, and create a homemade sauce to make it even better.”
For the burgers:
3/4 pound Kobe ground beef
Pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 slices organic cheddar cheese
6 slices Brioche bread, punched out with a 2-inch ring cutter
Organic iceberg lettuce
6 cherry tomatoes, sliced
3 cornichons, sliced
Rémoulade sauce (recipe follows)*
For the rémoulade sauce (makes 1 cup):
1 cup store-bought mayonnaise
⅛ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
⅛ cup red onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon capers, chopped
1 teaspoon chives, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
½ teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
Pinch kosher salt
Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Prepare before grilling the burgers.
*Note: To make this recipe even simpler, instead of making the rémoulade, make your own special sauce by combining ¾ cup of store-bought or homemade Thousand Island dressing with 2 tablespoons of bottled barbecue sauce and a little bit of diced red onion. Stir to combine.
Preheat a grill or grill pan.
Put the ground beef in a bowl and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Mix together with your hands to combine. Take a small amount (about 2 tablespoons worth) of the ground beef and roll it in the palm of your hand like you are making meatballs. Flatten the top slightly and put the mini burger patties on a side plate. Drizzle the burgers with oil and season the tops with salt and pepper. Turn the burgers over and season the other side.
Place the burgers on the hot grill. Cook for 3 minutes, and then turn them over with tongs. Put ¼ slice of cheese on top of burger. While that’s cooking, put the brioche circles on the grill. Let them toast slightly on both sides, about 2 minutes total time.
To put the burgers together: Put the toasted brioche circles on a platter. Top each with a small spoonful of the rémoulade. Put the burger on top (cheese side up), followed by a sprinkling of finely chiffonaded (shredded) iceberg, a slice of tomato and a slice of cornichon.
Makes 12 mini burgers.
Grilled Lemongrass Chicken
Chef: Helene An of Crustacean, Tiato, and AnQi
When Helene An fled Vietnam in 1975, she didn’t expect to end up honored by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center with a Pioneer Award for her culinary contributions — but that’s what happened to this woman who arrived in the USA as a war refugee with barely a dime. She’s been a force in California Asian cuisine for decades as the chef (and matriarch) at Crustacean in Beverly Hills, making legendary Dungeness crab and garlic noodles to die for. “The Fourth of July represents freedom and success for my family,” An says. “We’re so grateful to have had the opportunity to find refuge and safety in the U.S., so during this particular holiday, we celebrate how lucky we are to be here and to have the freedom that we do. We love to celebrate with a large family barbecue, swimming, and fireworks!” She always makes her grilled lemongrass chicken on the Fourth, and reveals that “the secret is to marinate the chicken for three hours, so it is juicy, not dry when grilling.”
For seasoning the chicken before marinating:
1 tablespoon salt and pepper mix
For the marinade:
3 pounds chicken, dark meat or white meat (Jidori Chicken preferred)
1 cup fresh lemongrass, minced
½ cup jalapeño, chopped
½ cup basil, chopped
½ cup shallots, chopped
½ cup parsley, chopped
¼ cup ginger, minced
3 cups canola oil
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon black pepper
Season the chicken with 1 tablespoon salt and pepper mix.
Combine all other seasoning ingredients together to create marinade.
Place chicken in Pyrex casserole dish or baking sheet and soak the chicken well in the marinade. Cover chicken with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 3 hours.
After 3 hours or more, remove chicken from fridge.
Slice chicken into 1/2-inch thick pieces.
Grill chicken until internal temperature is 165F. If it is a filet, grill about 6-7 minutes on each side. Do check the chicken every 5 minutes as different grills’ temperatures and the thickness of the chicken can vary the length of cooking time. I suggest you create grill marks on your chicken to have a nice grilled look and taste.
Souva Skewers with Tzatziki
Chef: Curtis Stone of Maude, Gwen Butcher Shop and Restaurant
Australian chef Curtis Stone cooked his way to L.A. by way of London, where his culinary reputation blossomed. He opened his first restaurant, Maude, here in 2014, and put roots down in SoCal with his wife and sons. “This year, the Fourth of July may be the first time you see family and friends in a long while,” Stone explains. “While the holiday may resonate differently for some, I think it does symbolize an ideal that is distinctly American and that many around the world recognize and aspire to. I think this year there is a lot to celebrate.”
Enjoy his “souva” (Aussie slang for “souvlaki”) skewers recipe with your family by following his special tips: “Be sure to marinate the meat; don’t overcook the beef; cut the beef into even pieces and don’t thread them too tightly on the skewer to help ensure even browning.”
For the souva:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon each garlic powder, dried oregano
2 tablespoons each freshly ground black pepper, kosher salt, onion powder, dried oregano, paprika
2 garlic cloves, finely grated on microplane
Two 1-inch-thick rib eye steaks, excess fat and sinew trimmed, meat cut into 1-inch pieces
4 pita breads
1 heirloom tomato, thinly sliced
½ red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup (not packed) fresh mint leaves
For the tzatziki:
1 hothouse cucumber, halved, seeded
2 cups plain 2% yogurt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
⅓ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
To prepare skewers:
In large bowl, mix garlic powder, oregano, pepper, salt, onion powder and paprika. Add oil and microplaned garlic to bowl and mix to combine. Add beef to marinade and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.
To make tzatziki:
Coarsely grate cucumber into a medium bowl. Stir in yogurt, lemon juice, lemon peel, mint, garlic and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Makes about 3 cups.
Thread beef onto skewers (preferably metal).
Prepare charcoal or gas barbecue for medium-high heat. Grill souvas, turning as needed, about 8 minutes.
Grill pitas, turning as needed, for about 2 minutes, or until hot and beginning to crisp.
Serve skewers with pita, tomatoes, onions, mint, and tzatziki.
Grilled Stone Fruit Salad
Chef: Bernhard Mairinger of BierBeisel and Spring Place
Austrian-born chef Bernhard Mairinger came to L.A. to hone his craft under German immigrant Joachim Splichal at Patina, then won nationwide acclaim in 2012 when he opened BierBeisel, an authentic Austrian restaurant in Beverly Hills. Now a private chef and caterer, he shared a recipe that changes up the idea of grilling. “It often has this heavy and greasy tag on it, but this dish is a perfect light, crisp, full and bright summer salad. Meat lovers can add sliced Jamon Iberico or prosciutto di San Daniele to take it to the next level.”
1 yellow peach
1 white peach
1 yellow nectarine
1 white nectarine
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Chanterelles or 1 cup lobster mushrooms or 3 cups porcini mushrooms
1 cup burrata
3 tablespoons of roasted almonds or hazelnuts, salted or plain
4 tablespoons of aged balsamic vinegar
2 sprigs of fresh mint
4-6 hearts of little gem or butter lettuce
Juice of ½ Meyer lemon
4 tablespoons of sherry vinegar
4 tablespoons of water
1 sprig of thyme
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons golden balsamic vinegar
Sea salt (Maldon or fleur de sel), to taste
White pepper mill or Espelette pepper, to taste
Wash the stone fruit with cold water and remove any stems, stickers or dirt. Now cut off the sides like you would when cutting up an apple. Try to cut them in fairly equal sized pieces, which makes it easier to have a bit of every fruit on each salad.
Toss the stone-fruit pieces (except cherries) with a bit of olive oil and season with just a touch of sea salt and white pepper. (If you can find Espelette pepper, I recommend using that as it has a nice kick and sweetness to it).
Wash your lettuce hearts and cut in half/quarters depending on the size. Each piece should be 3-4 bites. It is always better to trim some of the stem after cutting the lettuce into halves or quarters as it helps you keep the lettuce together and prevents the salad from falling apart and is easier to grill. Let the lettuce drain in a strainer or on a towel while you continue the prep.
Squeeze the lemon juice into a salad bowl and add a couple of spoonfuls of golden balsamic (or white balsamic). Whisk in about 3 times the amount of olive oil and taste the acidity level with a clean lettuce leaf. It is always important to try a vinaigrette with the ingredient as that’s really the only way to tell if it is right or wrong. We are aiming for a light, clean taste with just a touch of acidity and not too overpowering. The sweetness of the lemon should be present but again not overpowering.
Mix the sherry vinegar, water and remaining golden balsamic in a cup and start heating a pan to sear the mushrooms. Make sure the mushrooms are properly cleaned and had time to drain properly. Once hot add a generous splash of olive oil into the hot pan followed by the mushrooms. If you are using a gas stove be careful of the flame catching if the water/fat splashes. I always recommend pulling the pan while adding the mushrooms. Once back on the flame, keep roasting until the mushrooms start caramelizing. Now add the garlic clove (gently crush with the back of your knife) and thyme. Season with salt and pepper – it’s important to season after coloring, if you season too early the mushroom will release captured water and moisture which will make it impossible to add a nice roast.
Deglaze with the water and vinegar mix and reduce by half. As mentioned above, briefly remove the pan from the flame while you pour in the vinegar/water mix. Add the pitted cherry segments to the mushrooms and continue to let down.
Now start placing the stone-fruit segments on the hot grill and mark on the fruit flesh side. Once you have a saturated grill mark on it, remove from the flame and place on a platter. Toss the cut lettuce hearts in the same bowl with a bit of olive oil and pepper. Grill from both sides. Strain the liquid from the mushrooms and add the grilled lettuce to your stone fruit on the platter. With a spoon, drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the lettuce.
Now add the mushroom cherry mix without the thyme and garlic or any liquid. With a spoon, start cutting off small bits and pieces from the burrata and divide over the salad platter. Sprinkle some of the toasted hazelnuts or almonds on top. Finish with a drizzle of aged balsamic and the salad is complete.
For those who don’t love mushrooms, you can swap them out for yellow or red heirloom beets.
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