What We're Eating Over the Holiday Weekend
We'd love to hear what you're having, too
Despite its name, Labor Day weekend can feel like one of our more leisurely holidays, allowing us plenty of time to read, take walks, cook, and catch up on life. Below, we’ve included what we’re planning on cooking and eating — and we’d love to hear what’s on your agenda, too. Read on for more.
It'll be the first weekend in four weeks that I haven't been cooking for a benefit. It may be hot dogs. — Mark Bittman
I’m a big believer in using Labor Day to avoid work at all costs. That became a bit more complicated when I started working in food, an integral part of any holiday. Not to mention, my sister just moved back to NYC, so the celebratory energy this month is off the charts. So, if I’ve got to cook on the day dedicated to sticking it to the man, I’m going to have some fun.
Cue turning the pages of a cookbook that’s become a regular in my household, Lara Lee’s Coconut & Sambal. Recently, I returned to Indonesia – where I previously lived for a year – and had one of the most transformative, joyous international trips I’ve had in a long time. I’m trying to bring the ethos of what I felt and experienced in Indonesia to my Harlem home, and food is one of the ways to do so. I’ll be turning to Lara Lee’s fairly simple Iga Babi Bali (Balinese Sticky Glazed Pork Ribs), a recipe I wrote about for the New York Times that is so divine and flavorful, I’m pretty surprised they aren’t more difficult to make. I’ll pair the dish with Lee’s crunchy, slightly sweet, and perfectly fragrant fried shallot and coconut rice. I’m also going to buy some Chinese broccoli as the base to make her recipe for fragrant stir-fried morning glory, a common Indonesian dish that can be made with your choice of Asian greens. After cooking? I’ll be donating to independent unions fighting for better and more humane labor conditions and rights for America’s workers, followed by a well-deserved nap. Happy Labor Day, America. — Kayla Stewart
I'm moving on August 30 to a house that's been under construction for a year. By the time Labor Day weekend rolls around I think we'll have a toilet and a shower. I hope we'll have a working front door. I know we won't have a stove. So whatever we're eating that weekend is either going to be grilled (doubtful), cooked without heat (maybe), or cooked by someone else (probably). Around the time when my second kid was born (10 months ago), I developed an insatiable dessert craving that I'd never really had before. I think it was the combination of not sleeping and eating dinner at 5 p.m. More often than not it's ice cream (a two-to-one ratio of coffee to vanilla), with some kind of cake mushed in (if we have it), a big sprinkle of salt, and straight heavy cream poured directly over the top. Long story short, if I'm "cooking" anything in my stoveless, construction-site-of-a-kitchen two days after I move in, it's probably going to be dessert. And because I know I'll have heavy cream (from the ice cream habit), sugar (from the box of baking supplies I just packed) and raspberries (if I can pry them away from my kid) on hand, it's probably going to be Mark's Raspberry Fool. I love a recipe that gives you an excuse to eat what basically amounts to a giant bowl of whipped cream. Not that I need one. — Daniel Meyer
My family is meeting up with my wife's awesome cousin Shellena and her long-term boyfriend, Tyrell; we rented a house in Vermont. Tyrell and I have met three times; each time, we tantalize each other with stories of meals we've cooked outdoors. He grew up in a family of professional fishermen on the sea islands of Georgia, so his stories of cooking near the water after a big catch are always especially beautiful. He's told me how to cook oysters in burlap over a fire and various ways of making shrimp, rice, grits, and other Lowcountry food. We keep meaning to cook together, and it's part of the motivation for this trip (also, my wife and her cousin can't get enough of each other). I'm not sure what we'll cook yet, but I expect we'll arrange some sort of grill and cook seafood and rice dishes. I'm coming armed with a few of Mark's recipes. The ladies are in for a treat! — Mike Diago
I’ve been eating far too much ice cream lately and I’ve been wanting to make my own again: watermelon sorbet and honey as well as a blueberry mint ice cream. My KitchenAid ice cream attachment has been out of commission for far too long! Otherwise, I’m hoping to make fried chicken and lots of salads - tomato, eggplant, and last week’s Led Zeppelin. — Melissa McCart
Makes: 4 servings
Time: 2 to 24 hours, largely unattended
2 cups buttermilk
Salt and pepper
3 to 4 pounds bone-in chicken parts (1 whole chicken, cut up, or any combination of pieces)
Good-quality vegetable oil for deep-frying
2 cups all-purpose flour
Lemon wedges for serving
Put the buttermilk in a large bowl or gallon zipper bag. Add several large pinches salt and some pepper and stir or shake to combine. Add the chicken and cover the bowl or seal the bag, squeezing out as much air as you can. Let it sit, refrigerated, for 1 to 24 hours.
When you’re ready to cook, fit a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Line a platter with towels. Put 2 to 3 inches oil in a large pot over medium heat. For this recipe, you want the oil at about 315°F, so keep an eye on it. If you don't have a thermometer, heat the oil until a cube of bread sinks a bit before rising to the top and bubbling merrily. Just make sure the oil isn’t too hot.
Put the flour in a large shallow bowl with some salt and at least 1 tablespoon pepper; stir to combine. Working with one piece at a time, remove the chicken from the marinade and dredge it, turning and tossing in the flour, until thickly coated. Transfer each piece to the wire rack.
Working in batches to avoid overcrowding or overflowing, carefully add a few pieces of the chicken to the oil. They should quickly rise to the top and bubble enthusiastically. Adjust the heat so the oil maintains a steady but not-too-crazy cooking pace. Cook, turning occasionally until the meat is cooked but still juicy and the outside is deeply browned, 10 to 15 minutes. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads between 155- and 165°F. Adjust the heat so the coating doesn’t darken too quickly but the oil continues to bubble.
As the chicken pieces finish, transfer them to the towels to drain. Add a raw piece of chicken as you take out each cooked piece until you’re finished cooking. Serve any temperature with salt, pepper, and lemon wedges.
About 72 percent of my diet during the summer is some version of cold fruit plated with tender greens and soft herbs, and the highlight of the season for me has been growing my own watermelon for the first time. Nine different varieties, actually. I make this Greek-Style Watermelon Salad with each new variety of melon I harvest. Sometimes I add a little grilled shrimp and that makes for a very cute and easy dinner. — Holly Haines
Best. Herb. Year. Ever. Well, at least here in my Pacific Northwest rolling garden. For Labor Day that means I'll be spending the week trimming and harvesting and making a few rounds of herb sauces. In addition to the oil-based puree below, I'm looking forward to chopped mint and chives suspended in thick yogurt, julienned shiso stirred with soy sauce and rice vinegar, and whole basil leaves tossed with balsamic and halved cherry tomatoes. You can see from the photo I've got some serious bolting and seeding—all intentional since the Thai basil flowers attracted bees galore and I adore green cilantro and parsley seeds. Once everything is cut back and fed and composted, I'll be ready to snip rosemary, oregano, sage, thyme, and lavender for dehydrating. — Kerri Conan
Read on for a selection of seasonal recipes we love for late summer gatherings like Labor Day:
Grilled Corn Salad
Eggplant, La Tavernetta-style
14 Things to Do With a Pint of Cherry Tomatoes
Pasta With Grated Peppers and Breadcrumbs
… and More
Makes: About 1 cup
Time: 20 minutes
This simple and flexible purée is for whenever you want the full-on taste of concentrated fresh herbs. Gardeners: go ahead and pluck leaves and tender stems from a variety of plants; combinations can be delicious, provided you're mindful that those with woody stems—rosemary, oregano, lavender, thyme, and mint—are more intense than grassy herbs like parsley, dill, cilantro, and chives. If you're buying herbs, usually one big bunch is plenty for this recipe.