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A memorable Memorial Day

The weather won't matter with these recipes

Addie Broyles

The first official unofficial weekend of summer is upon us, and if we can catch a break from the rain, it could be a good weekend for grilling or an outdoor party.

And if it's not, you want options. We have rounded up some Memorial Day recipes to inspire your weekend cooking, from fried onion burgers that you can cook on a flat-top griddle — handy if the weather sends us indoors — to a tangy chicken from Hawaii that is best outside over a hot fire. The side dishes and dessert are good no matter what's going on outside. If you're anything like me, you need an annual reminder of how to make potato salad, and the dill pickle dip is a nice change from French onion dip.

A three-bean salad rarely seems exciting, but at a recent Urban Roots' fundraiser, the version from La Condesa chefs Rick Lopez, Tom Rodriguez and Frank Harris quickly became the most talked-about dish of the night. Lopez shared a pared-down recipe that is more complicated than a traditional three-bean salad, but herbs, tomatillos, chiles de árbol, cumin and garlic give the dressing so much flavor that you'll want to put it on everything for the next two weeks.

A day ahead of your Memorial Day party, you can spend an afternoon dreaming of Portland while making Salt & Straw's black raspberry sorbet with masa streusel. We might not have access to the same black raspberry jam that this popular ice creamery does, but you can find raspberry jam, masa harina and xanthan gum at just about any grocery store and make a frozen yogurt that your guests won't forget about anytime soon.

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Huli Huli Chicken

Come fundraising season, you'll start to see a lot of people selling tickets for huli huli chicken in Hawaii. Hulu huli, which translates to "turn turn," is a local-style barbecue chicken that is grilled and basted on a spit. The sweet marinade burns a bit, so I recommend you grill outside to avoid smoking up your house.

— Alana Kysar

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup rice vinegar

One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

In a large bowl, whisk together the ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, ginger and garlic until well combined. Reserve 1/3 cup of the mixture for later. To the remaining mixture, add the chicken and stir to evenly coat it. You can transfer this mixture with the chicken to a gallon-size zip-top bag or simply cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight, turning the chicken at least once.

After marinating the chicken, oil your grill grates well. Heat the grill to medium and grill the chicken for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, until cooked through, basting it with the reserved marinade after you turn it. Serve immediately.

— From "Aloha Kitchen: Recipes from Hawai'i" by Alana Kysar (Ten Speed Press, $30)

Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers

The star of this Oklahoma specialty is its crispy crust of caramelized onions, which is pressed onto a thin patty of ground beef. This exceptional, diner-style burger is traditionally cooked on a large griddle, where chefs press down on the onion-topped patties to seal the components together before serving the burgers on a buttery grilled bun with yellow mustard and dill pickles. For our version, we knew we needed to find a way to get the onions to stay on the burger rather than slide down the sides. Slicing and salting the onions allowed them to release some of their moisture; after the onions rested, we squeezed out their excess liquid to help them brown quickly and stick to the burgers. Instead of layering the onions on top of the patties, we flipped these burgers upside down; starting with individual mounds of onions, we set a ball of meat on top of each and then pressed the patties down onto the onions to help them stick. We placed the burgers in a buttered skillet onion side down to brown the onions and seal them onto the burgers. Cooking the burgers over medium heat allowed the meat and onions to cook together, giving us an onion crust that was caramelized on top and slightly crisp underneath. Finally, we flipped the burgers and turned up the heat to finish cooking and get a nice sear. A mandoline makes quick work of slicing the onion thinly. Squeeze the salted onion slices until they’re as dry as possible, or they won’t adhere to the patties.

— America's Test Kitchen

1 large onion, halved and sliced 1/8 inch thick

1 1/2 teaspoons table salt, divided

3/4 teaspoon pepper, divided

1 pound (85 percent lean) ground beef

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

4 slices American cheese

4 hamburger buns, toasted if desired

Toss onion with 1 teaspoon salt in colander and let sit for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Transfer onion to clean dish towel, gather edges and squeeze onion dry. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Divide onion mixture into 4 equal mounds on rimmed baking sheet. Divide ground beef into 4 equal portions, then gently shape into balls. Place beef balls on top of onion mounds and flatten beef firmly so onions adhere and patties measure 1/4 inch thick.

Season patties with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Melt butter and oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Using spatula, transfer patties to skillet, onion side down, and cook until onion is deep golden brown and beginning to crisp around edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Flip patties, increase heat to high, and continue to cook until well browned on second side, about 2 minutes. Transfer burgers to platter and let rest for 5 minutes. Place 1 slice cheese on each bun bottom. Serve burgers on buns. Serves 4.

— From "The Ultimate Burger: Plus DIY Condiments, Sides, and Boozy Milkshakes" by the editors of America's Test Kitchen (America's Test Kitchen, $26.99)

Three Bean Salad

At Urban Roots' Tour de Farm fundraiser last month, the chefs from La Condesa served what looked like a simple mixed bean salad with confit pork that guests quickly realized might be the best thing on the table. Chef Rick Lopez shared the recipe for the dish, minus the homemade confit made from a Richardson Farm pig. Even without the thin slices of meat, the bean salad would be a hit at any Memorial Day gathering. The key to the salad is the dressing, which you can make ahead of time and use on any number of salads. For a garnish, consider using thin slices of radish, chopped parsley and/or a finishing salt.

Lopez gets fresh red and black beans from Gundermann Acres in Wharton. Whether you're using fresh or dried, don't salt the water before boiling them, which causes the beans to absorb too much water and fall apart. Once the beans have finished cooking, Lopez adds salt so it will dissolve and lightly season the beans before he pours off the cooking water. You could, of course, use canned red or black beans; just rinse them well. Use fresh green beans, though, which will add a crunch that canned green beans don't have.

— Addie Broyles

For the beans:

1/2 pound green beans, fresh

1 cup dried red beans (or two 15-ounce cans, drained)

1 cup dried black beans (or two 15-ounce cans, drained)

For the dressing:

6 garlic cloves, germ removed

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup chives

1/4 cup fresh oregano

2 chiles de árbol, seeds removed

1 whole shallot

1 whole serrano chile

3 medium tomatillos

1 teaspoon ground cumin, toasted

1 bunch cilantro

1 bunch mint, leaves only

1/3 cup sherry vinegar

1/4 cup chile vinegar

Salt and pepper, to taste

Grapeseed or other neutral oil

Clean green beans’ tips and ends, and cut into half-inch pieces. Blanch in salted boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, then immediately transfer to ice-cold water bath.

If using dried beans, place the red beans and black beans in two separate pots and cover with water. Cover with a lid and cook over medium heat until tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Season with salt and then strain the beans from the cooking liquid. Allow them to cool to room temperature before transferring to refrigerator. Keep all beans cold until ready to dress and serve.

To make the dressing: Place garlic, bay leaf, chives, oregano, chile de árbol, shallot, serrano, tomatillos and cumin into a blender, and blend well. Chop cilantro and mint. Once the mixture is well blended, move into a large mixing bowl and add vinegar, and chopped cilantro and mint. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Fold in grapeseed oil to desired thickness, before storing in refrigerator for up to two weeks. When ready to serve, toss the cooked, cooled beans with desired amount of dressing and serve. Serves 12.

— From chefs Rick Lopez, Tom Rodriguez and Frank Harris of La Condesa

Dill Pickle Dip

We think a picnic should have a dip. And not just for enjoying with chips. A creamy, tangy dip like this one can be the “secret sauce” of the whole event: the dollop you spoon right onto your plate and eat with everything from the crudités and bread to the chicken. We like to make it with Bubbies dill pickles and serve it with thick kettle potato chips. You probably won’t have any left over, but if you do, try it as a sandwich spread.

— Justin Wangler and Tracey Shepos Cenami

1 1/2 cups firmly packed, finely grated, and well-drained dill pickles

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons powdered ranch seasoning mix

1 large bag good-quality potato chips

When grating the pickles, use the fine holes on a box grater and place the grater on folded paper towels to help absorb the pickle juice.

In a medium bowl, combine the pickles, tarragon, dill, mayonnaise, sour cream and ranch mix and stir to mix well.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. The dip tastes best if made 1 day in advance. Serve with the potato chips. Serves 8.

— From "Season: A Year of Wine Country Food, Farming, Family & Friends" by Justin Wangler and Tracey Shepos Cenami (Cameron, $50)

Home-style Potato Salad

This is a classic Southern potato salad recipe with mustard and mayo. There are no herbs or celery, but you will need some pickles for this one.

— Sam Jones

2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes


1/2 cup sweet pickle relish

4 1/2 teaspoons diced pimentos

1 tablespoon finely diced green bell pepper

4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped

1 cup mayonnaise

4 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard

Place the potatoes in a large pot of water and season with salt. Bring the water to a boil and continue to boil for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain the potatoes and set aside.

Drain the salad cubes and pimentos, discarding the juices. Place in a small bowl and combine with the bell pepper, eggs, mayonnaise, mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix well.

Pour the dressing over the potatoes, preferably while the potatoes are still warm. Fold the dressing into the potatoes (don’t mash the potatoes) until well combined. Serve warm, or if your crowd is averse to potato salad that’s not cold, chill in the refrigerator for a few hours. The potato salad will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days. Serves 6 to 8.

— From "Whole Hog BBQ: The Gospel of Carolina Barbecue with Recipes from Skylight Inn and Sam Jones BBQ" by Sam Jones and Daniel Vaughn (Ten Speed Press, $29.99)

Black Raspberry Cobbler Fro-Yo

If you've ever been to Portland, Ore., you might have stopped by Salt & Straw, the popular ice cream shop that does its part to Keep Portland Weird with avant-garde ice cream flavors, including cauliflower garam masala, strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper and a hoppy IPA ice cream. We don't usually see black raspberries in Austin, but you can usually find pretty good raspberry or blackberry jam, either at a grocery store or farmers market. The real kicker on this recipe, however, is the masa streusel, which uses masa harina to give the dessert a little crunch and a nod to corn. The sorbet base calls for xanthan gum, a key ingredient in all the Salt & Straw recipes. Owner Tyler Malek says the xanthan gum prevents ice crystals from forming and helps the ice cream keep in the freezer for up to three months. Thanks to its use in gluten-free baking, xanthan gum is now widely available in the baking aisle of many grocery stores.

— Addie Broyles

For the sorbet base:

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/4 cup light corn syrup

For the masa streusel:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup masa harina

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pea-size cubes

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, preferably Mexican

For the fro-yo:

1/2 cup store-bought black raspberry jam

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 cups sorbet base, very cold

1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt, very cold

3/4 cup whole milk

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup masa streusel

To make the sorbet base: Stir together the sugar and xanthan gum in a small bowl. Combine 1 1/4 cups water and the corn syrup in a small saucepan. Add the sugar mixture and immediately whisk vigorously until smooth (but don't fret over a few lumps). Set the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring often and adjusting the heat if necessary to prevent a simmer, until the sugar has fully dissolved, about 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and let the mixture cool completely. (You can store this mixture in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to a year. Thaw and stir well before using.)

To make the masa streusel: Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a bowl, combine the sugar, masa, flour, cinnamon and salt. Add the butter and vanilla, and use the back of a fork to mix the crumble until it forms fine, pea-size crumbs.

Sprinkle the crumble on the prepared sheet pan to form a 1/4-inch-thick layer, then lightly press down on the crumble so it sticks together a bit. Bake the crumble until it is light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let it cool to room temperature, then break it up into pea-size pieces. Use immediately or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 2 cups.

To make the fro-yo: In a bowl, mix the jam and lemon juice until well combined. Set it aside.

Put the sorbet base, yogurt, milk and salt into a bowl and use a stick blender to briefly blend until well combined. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and turn on the machine. Churn just until the mixture has the texture of a pourable frozen smoothie.

Quickly transfer the fro-yo into freezer-friendly containers: Spoon in layers of fro-yo, sprinkles of the streusel, using a spoon to press them in gently, and dollops of jam.

Cover with parchment paper, pressing it to the surface of the fro-yo so it adheres, then cover with a lid. It’s okay if the parchment hangs over the rim. Store it in the coldest part of your freezer (farthest from the door) until firm, at least 6 hours. It will keep for up to 3 months. Makes about 3 pints. 

— From "Salt & Straw Ice Cream Cookbook" by Tyler Malek and JJ Goode (Clarkson Potter, $25)