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Patriotic treats: BBQ ribs, bacon-potato salad, more

Sunny Anderson's on the grill this Fourth of July, preparing ribs with strawberry-jalapeno barbecue sauce, bacon-scallion potato salad, and easy (and patriotic!) sugar cookies.

Ribs with strawberry jalapeno barbecue sauce

Makes 8-10 servings


  • For the ribs

    • 2 (3-4 pound) slabs baby back ribs, silver skin removed from concave side of ribs
    • Kosher salt and black pepper
    • 2-3 pieces Mesquite wood chunks or 4 cups chips, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes
  • For the sauce

    • 4 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 cups finely chopped Vidalia or sweet onion
    • 4 jalapenos, chopped (keep the seeds!)
    • Kosher salt and black pepper
    • 6 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated on a rasp
    • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
    • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and chopped
    • 1 cup dark brown sugar, tightly packed
    • 4 tablespoons grained with wine Dijon mustard
    • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar


Baking Directions:

Rub and rest the ribs. Place the ribs on a tray and season all sides with salt and pepper. Rub the ribs a few minutes then let them rest at room temperature for 2 hours.Make the sauce: In a medium pot on medium heat add the olive oil, onions and jalapeno. Season with salt and pepper and cook until fragrant and tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and tomatoes then cook while stirring until the tomato skins begin to blister and their flesh breaks down, about 10 minutes. Use a potato masher to break down the tomatoes then add the strawberries and cook until tender, about 6 minutes. Use the potato masher to break the strawberries down as well then add the brown sugar, mustard, and vinegar. Lower to a simmer and cook uncovered for 15 minutes to reduce slightly, stirring every few minutes or so to make sure the sauce isn't sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cool slightly and use an immersion blender or standard blender to puree until smooth. Refrigerate until needed.Barbecue the ribs: Prepare the grill or smoker. If using a charcoal grill (details below), push the grey charcoal into two piles on each side of the grill. Place the soaked wood directly on the charcoals, in the center recess without charcoals, place an aluminum pan filled with water. Place the ribs directly on the grill in the indirect heat over the aluminum pan (center of the grill). Close the grill, open the vents and allow to cook 2-3 hours or until a pork from a fork reveals them to be tender. If you're into internal temperature checks it should be around 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush generously with sauce and continue to cook another 30 minutes. Remove and cover loosely with aluminum foil for 10 minutes before cutting into 1 or 2 rib servings. Use wood chips for gas grills and larger wood planks or chunks for charcoal. If using a smoker, use a smoke box and wood chips. If using an oven, set the temperature to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and place wood chips in a roasting pan filled with water on the bottom rack, then place the ribs in a roasting pan on the middle rack.

Bacon and scallion smashed potato salad


  • For the potatoes

    • 2 pounds small new potatoes
    • Kosher salt
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • For the dressing

    • 8 strips uncooked bacon, chopped or cut with scissors into pieces
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 pound cippolini onions, peeled and sliced in half along the equator
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated on a rasp
    • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, lightly chopped
    • 1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
    • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 6 scallions, white and green parts finely chopped
    • Kosher salt and black pepper


Baking Directions:

Boil and smash the potatoes. Fill a large pot with water, the potatoes, and add a nice pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are fork tender. Drain and allow to cool until easy to handle. Place the potatoes on a flat surface and using the back of a spoon, gently press each potato until they pierce and flatten to about ½-inch thick. Crisp the smashed potatoes. In a large pan on medium high heat add the butter and olive oil. When the butter melts add the smashed potatoes and cook on one side until the edges are golden and crisp, then flip and cook on the other side until crisped, about 8-10 minutes total. You may have to do this in batches. Remove potatoes to a paper towel-lined plate. Do not clean the pan.Make the dressing. In the same large pan add the bacon and cook until crisped. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Add to the pan the butter, olive oil, and onions and cook while tossing until the onions are tender and slightly golden on all sides, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, thyme, and paprika and cook for just a few seconds until the garlic is fragrant. Raise the heat and add the vinegar (watch your eyes for the vapors!), sugar, and scallions. Stir until the sugar to dissolves. Toss the salad. Combine the potatoes and bacon in a large bowl. Pour over the dressing and toss. Serve hot, warm or room temperature.

Easy patriotic sugar cookies

Makes 24 cookies


  • For the cookies

    • 2 sticks butter
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tablespoon milk
    • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • Kosher salt
    • Sugar, to roll dough
  • For the icing

    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 4 teaspoons milk
    • 1/8 teaspoon lemon extract
    • Red food coloring gel
    • Blue food coloring gel


Baking Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.Make and bake the cookie dough. In a stand mixer or bowl with a hand mixer cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the egg, milk, almond extract and continue to blend until smooth. Sift the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt into the creamed butter and blend well on low. Roll dough into a ball and refrigerate 30 minutes. Pour a bit of sugar into a bowl and remove dough from the refrigerator. Make into 24 even balls and roll each in the sugar, then place them one inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet*. With the palm of your hand gently press each ball into a thick disc. Bake until cookies are just set and lightly golden on the edge, about 10-12 minutes. Allow to completely cool on a rack.Make the icing. In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, milk and lemon extract until smooth. Divide and scoop icing into 3 separate sealable plastic bags. In one bag add a drop or two of red food coloring, in the next add a drop or two of blue food coloring, and leave the final bag white. Re-seal all the bags and massage the food color into the icing. If more food coloring is needed, add it a drop at a time. Clip a tiny hole in the corner of each bag and decorate each cookie however you please. I prefer to place them all on parchment and randomly decorate them from above one color at a time.*If using cookie cutters, refrigerate dough and use powdered sugar to roll it out on a flat surface to about 1/4-inch thick then dip cutters into powdered sugar before cutting out each shape.