Ask A Sacramento Chef: Easy 4th Of July Recipes

June 18, 2014 5:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

the red rabbit artwork by v heimerich Ask A Sacramento Chef: Easy 4th Of July Recipes

The Red Rabbit artwork (Credit, V. Heimerich)

Chef John Bays
The Red Rabbit Kitchen & Bar
2718 J St.
Sacramento, CA 95816
(916) 706-2275

Independence Day is a celebration of the things that Americans love, including life, liberty, fireworks and the pursuit of tasty meals. We particularly appreciate the right to assemble with friends to enjoy good food without sacrificing a lot of time to prepare it.

Chef John Bays co-owns The Red Rabbit with business partner Matt Nurge, and delighted patrons benefit greatly from their many years of experience in restaurants and bars. Serving cocktails, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, the diverse Red Rabbit menu includes tempura-battered asparagus spears with Green Goddess aioli, panko-crusted salmon cakes with chili-lime sauce and a fricassee of spring chicken made with fresh local leeks, tomatoes, peas and fiddleheads. Brunchers rave about the “Hangover Helper,” a pork belly and bacon hash served with a fried egg and hollandaise sauce.

The busy father of two, who jokes that his favorite meal is one that “someone else cooks for me,” suggests these simple recipes for Independence Day success.

St. Louis Ribs

Nothing says summer like a slab of pork ribs, and creating a dry rub adds a lot of flavor to the meat without fear of it burning during the slow cooking process. Bays likes to rub uncooked ribs with a combination of smoky paprika, brown sugar, dark chili powder, thyme and cayenne; he suggests using a mortar and pestle to grind whole cumin and coriander as well. Wrap in a double layer of heavy foil, put it on the grill’s top rack on medium heat and then “don’t even check that thing for 2-1/2 hours.” According to Bays, a typical 2.5- to 3-pound rack of pork ribs will be succulent and falling-off-the-bone tender in about 3 hours.

Related: Cooking Ideas For Kids From A Sacramento Chef

grilled corn by v heimerich Ask A Sacramento Chef: Easy 4th Of July Recipes

Grilled corn (Credit, V. Heimerich)

Grilled Corn

Bays says that relaxing summer days are perfect for grilling local produce, including fresh onions, tomatoes, eggplant and squash. One of his favorites is grilled corn on the cob, but many people dislike the time required to remove the long strands of corn silk before starting any method of cooking. Bays’ preferred technique takes care of that problem while bringing out the fresh and sweet, caramelized flavor of the vegetable.

Young corn with bright green husks are best, and start by cutting off the visible silk at the end of each ear. Peel off only one layer of husk, leaving the rest of the husk there to cover the kernels. Since “nature wrapped it for you,” says Bays, there is no need to use water, oil, aluminum foil or anything else to prep the corn. The husks will seal in moisture and makes sure the corn does not burn. Just put the husk-covered ears directly on the grill, turning periodically, for about 15 minutes. Use a knife to cut off one end of each cob, pulling off the husk and most of the remaining silk at the same time.

Bonus: “Four Independence”

Red Rabbit bartender Ian Young created this special 4th of July cocktail just for CBS Local Sacramento readers. Blend Four Roses Bourbon with a touch of simple syrup and fresh lemon juice. Top with soda water and a lemon slice and serve on ice.

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Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
Her work can be found at