Labor Day Family Favorites

I remember when there were all sorts of social rules surrounding so many holidays. Never wear white after Labor Day. Always have a new Bonnet for Easter each year. I grew up in a time when Sunday Best meant something. It did not mean fancy – whatever your best was, it was reserved for Sundays. Family and community meant something.

Labor Day was special. It wasn’t about the big sales at the Mall. I’m not altogether sure stores were open. After all, Labor Day is about celebrating the achievements of labor, not creating work for others. As for Malls – those didn’t exist yet. At least not like they do today. There were neighborhood shopping centers, but not Malls with an insane number of stores packed under one giant roof.

When I was very young, Labor Day was often spent in a park. This was for two reasons. First, everyone went to the park as a community. And back then, there were so many family members that a backyard would not do. Uncles, aunts, close friends, neighbors – all with big families. Over time, families began to scatter. Children went off to college, fell in love, married and built lives of their own. Christmas was a time when everyone headed home for the holidays, but not Labor Day. Even then, there was an unwritten rule. If you were only an hour away, it was home for every holiday, not just the “big” ones. That means Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day in addition to Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

Recently I spoke with one of my cousins. As children we grew up together. She is as much a sister as my sisters. Her children had grown, gone off to college, married their loves, and started families of their own. Now they have all returned home. When she gathers with her children, their spouses and children, there are 15 of them. Wow. My father is celebrating his 90th birthday in January. My cousin, and hopefully her entire family, will be there. Those are the gatherings I remember growing up. Family as far as the eye can see.

Family and good food – does life get any better? And you can bet anytime families and friends gather, there is bound to be plenty of good food.

Labor Day Favorites
Beer Can Grilled Chicken
Baby Ray’s Slow-Cooker Barbecue Ribs
Instant Pot Cob Corn
Mema’s Deviled Egg Potato Salad
Cast Iron Barbecue Beans

Beer Can Grilled Chicken
1 (4-1/2 lb) Chicken Roaster
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1/4 cup Montreal Chicken Seasoning or as needed
1 (12 oz) can Beer

Prepare grill for indirect medium heat (about 350 to 375 degrees). If using a gas grill, turn on all the burners to reach temperature, then turn off burners on one side. If a charcoal, build coals on one side of the grill.

Remove excess fat from inside the chicken. Rub chicken with oil. Rub cavity with about 1 tablespoon of the Chicken Seasoning. With fingertips, lift skin from flesh. Rub about another tablespoon of seasoning between the flesh and the skin. Sprinkle seasoning on the chicken skin. Set chicken aside.

Pull tab on the beer. With an opener, poke holes in the top of the can. Pour about an inch of beef from the can. Add a little seasoning into the beer. Hold chicken upright (legs pointing down) and insert opened beer can into cavity. Stand chicken in upright position on unlit side of grill. Position legs to best support chicken (similar to a tripod). Close lid.

Grill chicken about 90 minutes or until cooked through (internal temperature reaches 165-degrees in the thigh). Remove chicken from beer can before carving.

Baby Ray’s Slow-Cooker Barbecue Ribs
Cooking Spray
4 lbs Baby Back Ribs
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Barbecue Seasoning
2 cups Baby Ray’s Original Barbecue Sauce
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
3 tablespoons Minced Garlic (from a jar)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 teaspoons Cayenne Pepper

Spray the inside of a large oval slow-cooking with cooking spray to help with the clean up.

Remove the membrane from the ribs. Season ribs with salt, pepper and barbecue seasoning, rubbing into the meat. Set aside.

Mix barbecue sauce, brown sugar, garlic, Worcestershire Sauce and Cayenne Pepper. Whisk to blend well.

Lay ribs on a cutting board, cut into sections of 3 or 4 ribs per section, depending upon how you would like to serve the ribs and what fits best in your cooker.

Pour half of the barbecue mixture into a bowl. Brush or dip ribs with the barbecue sauce, making sure the ribs are well-coated. Arrange ribs in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3 hours or until tender.

Remove ribs from cooker, arrange on a foil lined baking sheet. Place under the broiler for a few minutes to give a nice charred finish. Return to slow cooker, turn to low and keep warm as you serve.

For messy ribs, pour remaining barbecue sauce over finished ribs or serve in a bowl on the side.

Instant Pot Corn on the Cob
6 ears Corn
1-1/4 cup Water

Clean corn of husks and silk. Rinse well to remove any remaining silk strands. Trim both ends of each ear.

Add water to the Instant Pot. Place a steamer basket into the pot.

Stack the corn in the steamer basket, close the lid and then set the Instant Pot for Custom Pressure Cook, HIGH setting for 2 minutes.

Once cooking has completed, release pressure valve. Place corn on a cutting board, cut each ear in half. Transfer corn to a serving platter. Serve with plenty of butter, salt and pepper as desired.

Mema’s Deviled Egg Potato Salad
3 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes
6 Eggs, hard-boiled
1/4 whole Red Onion, minced
2 Celery Ribs, minced
1 tablespoon Bacon Drippings, warm (Optional)
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon Mayonnaise
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1 tablespoons Mustard
3 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar, divided
Kosher Salt to taste
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
Pinch Paprika
2 Green Onion

Peel and slice potatoes into large chunks. Place potatoes in a stockpot and cover with 1-inch of salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are just tender but not soft, about 10 minutes. Drain well. Sprinkle LIGHTLY with about a tablespoon red wine vinegar and set aside in refrigerator to cool.

Place eggs in a saucepan, add cold water to cover eggs. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and cover. Let sit for 12-14 minutes, then plunge eggs into cold water to stop cooking process. Once cooled, roll egg on counter to crack the shell. Return eggs to cold water and let sit for about 15 minutes. This will help to make the eggs easier to peel.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine onions, celery, bacon drippings, 1 cup mayonnaise, mustard, sour cream and 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar. Whisk to combine. Taste dressing and season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Peel and chop 3 eggs. Add to dressing. Taste dressing a second time, adjust seasonings as necessary.

Cut remaining 3 eggs in half. Place yolks into a small mixing bowl. Mash yolks with a fork. Add about a tablespoon of mayonnaise to create a thick paste. Season with salt, pepper and just a dash of red wine vinegar. Fill egg whites with deviled egg filling. Chill until ready to garnish.

Place potatoes in a large bowl. Pour egg dressing over potatoes and toss to coat. Smooth out top.

With the back of a spoon, create indentations in the salad to cradle the deviled eggs. Remove eggs from the refrigerator. Sprinkle with a little paprika for color and place as desired on the top of the potato salad.

Cut the roots from the green onions. Cut the white parts from the green. Using a sharp knife, cut the tops of the white parts of the onion to create decorative “pomp pomps”. Arrange onions around the top of the salad as desired. Finely slice green part of the onion, scatter over the salad.

Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Cast Iron Barbecue Beans
3 strips Bacon
1/2 medium Yellow Onion
16 oz can White Beans in Chili Sauce
16 oz can Pinto Beans in Chili Sauce
2 cups Barbecue Sauce
1/4 cup Brown Sugar

Cut bacon into pieces and set aside. Cut onion in half from tip to root. Wrap half the onion in plastic and store for another use. Peel and dice remaining half of the onion. Set aside until ready to use.

Fry bacon in a cast iron skillet over medium heat until crisp and fat has been rendered. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon from the skillet and set aside.

Fry onion in bacon dripping until just tender. Remove skillet from heat.

Pour cans of beans into the skillet. Add barbecue sauce and brown sugar. Stir until well incorporated. Add bacon to the mix.

Return skillet to heat, and simmer on low until headed through, about 20 minutes.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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