Chicago-Style Hot Dogs and Hawaii-Style Sherbet for Your Fourth of July

With chile-spiked cucumbers, watermelon chaat and perfect s’mores.

By Julia Moskin

Hello, readers! Julia Moskin here, filling in for Melissa Clark. Kim Severson and I will be covering for her this week and next.

I’ll keep this short, because it’s the day before the Fourth of July, and you’re busy. So busy that you haven’t decided what to cook tomorrow? Me too. So here’s a list of Independence Day recipes that are easy to pull together. It’s not just hot dogs and hamburgers, although those are included, of course.

As Chicagoans already know, a hot dog can be an entire meal if you top it with a dill pickle, tomatoes, raw onion, yellow mustard and pickled peppers. (And beware the warning of one recipe commenter, Steve J: “Ketchup must not be allowed within 30 feet of the hot dog.”) The traditional all-beef dog is boiled or steamed, freeing up room on the grill. Cover that space with Steven Raichlen’s perfect inside-out cheeseburgers.

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Chicago-Style Hot Dogs

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Go to Melissa to choose your own potato salad adventure, then pick a cooling no-cook side dish. Sichuan-style chilled cucumbers are dressed with crunchy peanuts and chile oil in Sue Li’s quick recipe, and in Malika Ameen’s watermelon chaat recipe, chunks of sweet watermelon are spiked with plenty of citrus, cumin, black pepper and cayenne.

There’s no quicker dessert shortcut than s’mores, and thank goodness our Tanya Sichynsky gathered all the intel to develop a recipe that isn’t only sweet, but also has lively taste, texture and temperature contrasts.

If you must have a frozen treat on the Fourth of July — and you must — Ligaya Mishan’s new recipe for Hawaii-style sherbet sounds like a trip: a pink cloud of strawberry soda whipped with condensed milk. Frosty desserts like shave ice and pineapple whip are a big deal on the islands, and this one comes straight from the Asato Family Shop, a cult favorite in Honolulu. With flavors like grape and green river (lemon-lime), the Asatos celebrate what might be the most popular American invention of all time: soda pop.

Whatever mixed feelings we have about that, what they say rings true, especially on a holiday: “The flavors transport us back to small kid time, by taking inspiration from the past and mixing it with the present.”

Happy Fourth! Kim will see you here on Wednesday.

Julia Moskin, a Food reporter since 2004, writes about the restaurant industry, culinary trends and home cooking. She was part of the New York Times team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for reporting on workplace sexual harassment. @juliamoskin Facebook

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