For this year’s Memorial Day Menu, I opted to forego the usual stables of hamburgers, hot dogs, potato and macaroni salad. It’s more of a “grown up” feast. Of course, you can always throw some burgers and dogs on the grill for the little ones.
This year we’re cooking up crab legs in the slow cooker with plenty of garlicky-butter. By “steaming” the crab legs in a large, oval slow cooker, the flavor of the garlic and butter is able to slowly seep into the sweet meat of the leg. This also allows you room on the grill for other yummy delights such as red-wine kissed Tri-Tip, grilled corn and skewered red potatoes. I don’t know about you, but I love Ranch Style beans with barbecued foods. You could open up a few cans and heat them in a crock pot, or use the recipe below to make them from scratch if you are feeling rather ambition.
If you haven’t had corn grilled inside their husks, you are in for a treat. The corn is crisp-tender with just a hint of smokey goodness. Served with a spicy butter (on the side – Garlic Butter with a Habanero kicker isn’t for everyone), the corn is out of this world.
Add to your buffet tables a large green salad, some Red White and Blue Frosted sugar cookies and a beautiful Fresh Berry Trifle, and you are all set.
Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor those brave souls who gave their lives defending our country. What better way to honor their sacrifice than to come together as a family, to take a moment to give thanks, and to enjoy the gift given to us – the precious gift of the company of our loved ones.
Thaw and rinse the crab. The best way to defrost crab is to let it sit, covered, inside the refrigerator overnight.
Crab legs can also be thawed by running them under cold water for a few minutes. Even if you do not need to run the crab legs under cold water to thaw them, doing so could also help remove any remaining ice crystals or slime. Pat dry with clean paper towels before using.
Transfer the crab legs to a slow cooker. Arrange the crab legs in even layers inside the slow cooker. You will need to create multiple layers of crab legs, but these layers should at least be even.
Due to the shape of the crab legs, an oval slow cooker usually works better than a round one. You only need enough water to cover the crabs. Too little or too much could be result in crab legs that are too dry or not sufficiently heated.
Mix the butter and garlic. Melt the butter in a small bowl.
To add the flavored butter to the crab legs, simply pour the butter mixture over the legs in the slow cooker. Since the crab legs are being cooked slowly, the flavors of the seasonings have a greater opportunity to permeate the thick shell of the legs and flavor the meat beneath.
Try to spread the butter over as many of the crab legs as possible. You can toss them to coat the crab more thoroughly, but this is not necessary.
Add just enough water to barely cover the legs. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or until the meat is steaming hot and nearly melting inside their shells. Since the crab legs are being cooked slowly, the flavors of the seasonings have a greater opportunity to permeate the thick shell of the legs and flavor the meat beneath.
It you did not have time to thaw your crab legs and are cooking them straight from a frozen state, add another 30 minutes to the cooking time.
Once the legs are heated through, use tongs to remove the crab from the slow cooker. Transfer them to a serving platter and enjoy while hot.
If desired, you can serve the crab legs with additional melted butter or lemon wedges.
Note: King crab legs are expensive – top shelf of the crab leg world. This recipe works well with snow crab legs while saving a buck or two.
Tri-Tip Barbecue with a Gourmet Rub
1 Tri-Tip Brisket, about 3 lbs
1/2 Tablespoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 ½ Teaspoons Sea Salt
½ Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
¼ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
½ Teaspoon Dijon Style Mustard
¼ Cup Red Wine
¼ Cup Olive Oil
6-8 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary, crushed
Mix all ingredients for gourmet rub. Rub into tri-tip brisket. Wrap brisket in plastic wrap, refrigerate for 2 or 3 hours minimum – the longer the better. Remove from refrigerator, let stand on counter for 45 minutes prior to grilling.
While the tri-tip comes to room temperature, build nice bed of hot coals. Open the bottom and top vents half way, place grate over coals and close lid to heat, about 5 minutes. Clean grate and oil paper towels dipped in vegetable oil.
Raise coals to high position (or lower grate, depending upon grill). Grill meat, fat side up, for 3-5 minutes or until nicely seared. Turn using meat tongs (NEVER stick a fork into it – the juices will run out, and that just makes for a dry hunk of meat) and sear other side. Lower coals (or raise the grate, depending upon grill), cover and continue to cook meat 7-10 minutes longer. Check for doneness using an instant read thermometer. You’ll want the thickest part at the center to be about 140 degrees. A thick tri-tip might need to be turned for a final time and grilled 5-8 minutes longer.
The key to a juicy piece of meat is to let the meat rest 10-15 minutes after grilling to allow the juices to soak back into the meat rather than run all over the cutting board. Keep in mind that while the meat rests, it will continue to cook, raising the internal temperature as much as ten degrees.
When carving, go ahead and slice on the serving platter. That way, any juices that escape can be spooned over the sliced meat when serving for extra flavor.
Texas Ranch Beans
2 Cups Dried Pinto Beans
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
1 Onion, Diced
6 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Cup Water
¼ Cup Chili Powder
½ Teaspoon Cayenne Powder
2 Tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1 Teaspoon Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1 Teaspoon Cumin
½ Teaspoon Mexican Oregano
6 Cups Beef Broth
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Pick over beans, cover with water and soak overnight. Drain well.
In the pot the beans are to be cooked in, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onions 3-4 minutes or until almost tender. Add garlic, sauté until aromatic about 30 seconds. Transfer onions and garlic to a blender or food processor. DO NOT clean pot; set pot aside.
To the onion mixture, add water, chili powder, cayenne powder, tomatoes, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, smoked paprika, cumin and Mexican oregano. Puree to a smooth mixture.
Add beans and beef broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, allow to boil 1-2 minutes, then reduce heat to simmer. Pour Chili puree into beans, stir to blend. Cover and simmer 2-4 hours (depending upon freshness of beans – may be tender in 2 hours, may take longer). When beans are tender and chili sauce has thickened, season with salt and pepper to taste. DO NOT add salt until the beans are completely cooked or they will become tough and undesirable.
Remove thick outer husks from the corn, leaving several layers of the thinner, pale husks in tact.
Peel back these layers of husks from the corn without removing them from the ears. Remove the silks, rinse ears and recover the corn with the husk. Secure husks with kitchen twine. Place ears of corn in a large pot of cold water. Let soak for at least 30 minutes. (The kernels will absorb some of the water, allowing them to steam in their husks when placed on the grill.)
While corn is soaking, make spicy butter.
Ingredients – Spicy Garlic Butter
2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened
8 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
¼ Habanero pepper, seeded
¼ bunch fresh chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine butter, garlic, Habanero, and chives in a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to use.
When ready to grill, remove corn from water and shake off excess. Place the corn on the grill, directly over fire; close the cover and grill. Check and turn periodically. If husks begin to burn, transfer ears and continue to cook using an indirect method. Grill for about 20 to 30 minutes. Corn should be firm but tender when properly grilled.
When corn is cooked, unwrap and brush with the garlic butter. Sprinkle squeezed with lime and garnish with chopped chives.
Note: While this recipe calls for 8 ears of corn, more can easily be made – provided there is room on the grill. There’s no need to increase the butter recipe – this recipe will make plenty of spicy butter.
Fire Roasted Red Potato Skewers
2 pounds red potatoes (about 6 medium), quartered
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Place the potatoes and water in an ungreased microwave-safe 2-qt. dish. Cover and microwave on high for 10-12 minutes or until almost tender, stirring once; drain. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; add potatoes. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Drain, reserving mayonnaise mixture. On six metal or soaked wooden skewers, thread potatoes.
Grill, uncovered, over medium heat for 4 minutes on each side, brushing occasionally with reserved mayonnaise mixture or until potatoes are tender and golden brown.
Memorial Day Berry Trifle
1 package (3.4-ounce) instant vanilla pudding
2 cups fresh berries strawberries, washed and hulled, plus extra for garnish
2 cups blueberries, plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
24 to 36 ladyfingers
To make the fillings, prepare the pudding according to the package directions and chill it.
Slice the strawberries, then toss all of the berries with the lemon juice and the 1/4 cup of sugar. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow the berries to release their juices.
In a medium mixing bowl, whip the cream, vanilla extract, and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until soft peaks form. Set aside.
To make the layers, set a layer of ladyfingers (around 7 or 8) on the bottom of a large, clear serving bowl. Top with about a third of the berries, then with half of the pudding.
Add another layer of ladyfingers, another third of the berries and juice, and the rest of the pudding.
Add a final layer of ladyfingers and berries. Top with the whipped cream and a berry garnish.
Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.
Note: If ladyfingers are not available, a loaf of Pound or Angle Food Cake cut into cubes make a wonderful substitute.
Wishing you a wonderful Memorial Day.
May the good Lord bless you and keep you safe.