The recipes for culinary fireworks on the Fourth vary from chef to chef to chef

June 27, 1993|By Jim Burns | Jim Burns,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

What ignites culinary fireworks on the Fabulous Fourth?

Professional chefs Mark Miller, Sandy Shea and Karen Barker have very different menus for the day.

The success of Mr. Miller's Red Sage in Washington will probably keep him from cooking up much at home this year. But this crusader for Southwestern food does recall one special New Mexican feast. Mr. Miller brought a goat leg and applied a mixture of garlic and mint. Then he wrapped the whole thing up in burlap and sealed it with clay. For those of us without goats, he has adapted the recipe to use lamb -- and it may be the only time that you'll order 10 pounds of clay for home cooking.

Meanwhile, in the Northwest, Ms. Shea, who is the chef at Chez Shea in historical Pike's Market, remembers one Fourth when she had just moved to Seattle and met the man who was to become her husband.

When her Uncle Everett called to ask what he could bring to her first Seattle party, the dialogue went like this:

Chef: "We're having blackberry chicken."

Uncle: "What can I bring?"

Chef: "The blackberry chicken."

Uncle Everett rose to the occasion, and the dish will bear his moniker ever after.

Down South in Raleigh, N.C., the chefs of Magnolia Grill are planning an all-out Fourth picnic for friends and employees. Karen and Ben Barker sat next to each other the first day of class at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., and have been cooking together ever since.

For dessert Ms. Barker will make buttermilk cheesecake. As a native of Brooklyn, she knows plenty about cheesecakes, the favorite dessert of New York. When she tasted buttermilk pie, a Southern specialty, she was struck by the similarities the two desserts shared. The discovery led to one of her favorite desserts.

@Buttermilk cheesecake

Makes 1 (10-inch) cake.

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

2 tablespoons plus 1 cup sugar

3 ounces butter, melted

4 ounces butter, room temperature

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature

zest of 2 lemons, grated

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs

seasonal fresh berries

Combine graham cracker crumbs, cornmeal, 2 tablespoons sugar and 3 ounces melted butter in small bowl and mix with fork until blended. Press mixture with fingers on bottom and up 1 inch of sides of buttered 10-inch springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees until crust is lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Cream together 4 ounces butter and cream cheese with lemon '' zest and remaining 1 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in buttermilk and vanilla, scraping sides occasionally, until well combined. Gradually beat in eggs to combine. Do not over-mix.

Pour mixture into reserved crust. Bake at 350 degrees 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees and bake 25 minutes longer. Turn oven to low setting and bake until done (about 20 minutes -- cake will be set around edges and barely jiggly in very center).

Cool cake, then cover and refrigerate several hours before serving with berries.

New Mexican Fourth of July

green chili lamb

Makes 4 servings

10 pounds baking clay

1 leg of lamb, 5 to 7 pounds, bone in

5 tablespoons olive oil

3 onions, julienne cut

24 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

salt, pepper

10 bunches mint, washed and trimmed of lower stems

green chili sauce (recipe follows)

On parchment paper, roll out clay into 12-by-15-inch rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick, and cover with piece of foil the same size. Let clay stand while preparing the lamb.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large skillet over high heat until almost smoking. Reduce heat to medium and sear lamb leg about 4 minutes per side. Remove lamb; cool.

Saute onions in remaining 2 tablespoons oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Make 6 (2-inch) cuts across lamb leg and against grain down to bone on both sides. Stuff cuts with garlic. Place onions on top of lamb. Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper.

Place half of mint on foil. Place lamb on top of mint. Spread plenty of green chili sauce over one side of lamb leg and cover with remaining mint. Fold foil around leg, leaving bone exposed, and crimp foil to seal. Trim any sinews off bone.

L Fold clay over foil in same manner and pinch well to secure.

Place lamb on parchment-covered sheet pan and roast at 225 degrees about 4 hours. Remove pan from oven and let stand 10 to 15 minutes.

Crack clay with mallet to open. Place lamb on platter, slice and serve..

Green chili sauce

Makes about 6 cups

4 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground cumin

4 pounds Anaheim chilies, roasted, peeled, seeded and deveined

3 large jalapeno chilies

8 cloves garlic, roasted and peeled

4 cups water

2 teaspoons salt

Combine oregano and ground cumin in small skillet. Toast over medium heat until aromatic, about 3 minutes. Do not let mixture brown. Combine with chilies, garlic, water and salt in blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

Blackberry chicken

a la Uncle Everett

Makes 8 servings

5 cups fresh blackberries or 32 ounces frozen

1 1/4 cups zinfandel or cabernet sauvignon

2/3 cup olive oil

1 cup balsamic vinegar

2 bay leaves

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