New Yorkers Are Americans, too

The perfect Independence Day dinner—no grill required

Every year, Independence Day brings grill sales and specials on ground chuck, because every homegrown patriot is expected to host or attend at least one blowout backyard barbecue over the weekend. The Fourth falls on a Tuesday this year, and many New Yorkers don't have Monday off (ahem). So getting out of town is a little more challenging than usual. But if you don't happen to have a sprawling terrace or a lush backyard, there's hope.

We got in touch with a couple of restaurants to gather recipes for the perfect grill-less Fourth of July dinner. It's as American as apple pie—or, berry shortcake at least, and you won't have to cook burgers in shifts on a mini-Webber, perilously balanced, in most cases illegally, on your fire escape.

Ici's Braised Pork Shoulder with Grits, Pecans, and Mustard Greens
Serves 10-12

If your "backyard" looks something like this, don’t fret
photo: Nina Lalli
If your "backyard" looks something like this, don’t fret

THE PORK:
1 pork shoulder (preferably from Flying Pig's Farm), with skin on—about 15 pounds
1 bottle Kecap Manis
4 cups Shaoxing rice wine
1 large cassia bark or 2 cinnamon sticks
4 whole pieces star anise
1 pound dark brown sugar
1 large knob ginger, crushed
coarse sea salt
black pepper

Preheat the oven at 275. Rinse pork shoulder and place in a deep, oven-proof pan. Add all ingredients and enough water to half-submerge the meat. Bring the mixture just to a boil on the stovetop. Turn off heat, cover with aluminum foil, and move to the oven. Cook for at least eight hours. The pork is done when a fork or skewer inserted deep into the meat is met with no resistance. Let the pork cool to room temperature. Lift skin off and use a fork to pull the pork, including the fat. Place the meat in a serving dish. Strain the liquid and pour it over the meat.

THE GRITS:
2 cups milk
2 cups water, plus more if needed
1 cup coarse grits (preferably from Anson Mills)
3 cups quick grits
½ pound unsalted butter
salt
black pepper

Bring the milk and water to a boil and stir in the grits. Lower the heat to simmer, and stir constantly. Cook for one hour, adding water as needed to keep the grits from drying out. When the grits are soft, remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Season according to taste.

THE GREENS AND PICKLES:
(Note: For the pickles, don't worry if you can't find the exact assortment listed here. Use a combination that appeals to you. For example, pickled tomatoes would work well.)

12 thick slices of bacon, diced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 16-ounce jar of hot pickled okra (preferably from Talk O' Texas), sliced in half
1 16-ounce jar pickled watermelon rinds, diced small
16 ounces pickled ramps
A few handfuls of pecans
2 pounds mustard greens, trimmed and chopped

Sautee the bacon in the butter. Add the pecans to toast. Add the mustard greens just to wilt. Remove from heat and add the pickles.

To serve: spoon the grits in to bowls and top with the pork (using a slotted spoon). Top that with the mustard greens and pickles.

 
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