4th of July Feast

It was a lovely 4th for us here in Amarillo!  It was cool enough last night to be outside for dinner and not be sweating like a pig.  After dinner we went to a park a few blocks from the house and played bocce ball.  My glowing friend Jackie (9 months pregnant, due any day now) beat everyone.  I miss a lot of things about central Texas, but I love the weather up here.

Originally my thought was to have burgers, potato salad, etc., your typical American 4th of July meal.  We weren’t sure how many people were going to show up to our little shindig, and I didn’t want to have a bunch of leftover hamburgers.  So, I decided to make pulled pork sandwiches.  We also had potato salad, cole slaw, fruit salad and patriotic sugar cookies.


The recipe for the pulled pork, barbeque sauce and sugar cookies all came from The Joy of Cooking.  The pork was easy and delicious.  There is a lot of waiting involved, but nothing difficult.  I dry rubbed the pork and let it hang out in the fridge for about 15 hours.  Then I browned the meat on every side in a dutch oven, put the top on and popped it in the oven for 3 hours.  After that, the only real work you have to do is shred the pork with a couple forks.  I found this to be a good way to relieve some stress.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

For Rub:

  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sweet or hot paprika
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup cracked black peppercorns

For Pork:

  • 1 boneless Boston butt or pork shoulder blade roast (about 4 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 12 hamburger buns


  1. Make the dry rub.  Spread cumin seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat and toast, shaking the pan often to prevent burning, until fragrant (2 to 3 minutes). Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, and grind to a fine powder in a spice grinder, coffee grinder, blender, or with a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a small bowl and add the remaining rub ingredients. Stir together well. Any remaining rub can be kept covered for up to 6 weeks in a cool, dark, dry place.
  2. For pork: Trim any excess fat from the pork. Rub the meat with the dry rub. The meat can be cooked at once or wrapped in two layers of aluminum foil and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Position rack in center of oven . Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Heat a heavy oven-proof pot large enough to hold the meat over medium heat. Add vegetable oil and heat. Add the meat and brown well on all sides. Cover pot tightly with foil or a lid, place in oven and bake until meat is tender enough to be shredded easily with a fork, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Skim off the fat from the pan juices. Shred the meat into strings with a fork.
  4. Stir pan juices into shredded pork. If necessary, gently reheat pork over medium-low heat. Serve on hamburger buns.

Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup worchestershire
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3/4 to 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon ground)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 slices lemon
  1. Over medium heat stir all of the ingredients together.
  2. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.

The potato salad was not traditional.  I love mustard potato salad, but wanted to try something new.  I found this recipe for Apple and Bacon Potato Salad on Simply Recipes.  It seemed to be a hit with everyone.  The crunchy apples were a really nice addition.  I made the sauce (olive oil, mustard, vinegar, pepper and thyme) seperately and then mixed it with the potato mixture.  I was able to control the amount of sauce this way, and I didn’t use quite all of the sauce.  I found it to be very tasty and flavorful and not too saucey.  It’s up to you.


Apple and Bacon Potato Salad


  • 5 thick strips bacon
  • 1 large red or yellow onion, chopped
  • Salt
  • 2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cut in 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 pounds small yellow Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced, including the greens
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper


1 Combine the potatoes and enough cold water to cover by a couple of inches in a large saucepan. Add a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the pan. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain well.

2 While the potatoes are cooking, cook the bacon in a heavy-based skillet over medium heat. Once cooked, remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Reserve the bacon fat in the pan. Once the bacon is cool, chop it.

3 Cook the onion in the fat in the pan on medium heat, until softened and just starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the onion from the pan to a large bowl, set aside. Add the chopped apple to the bowl.

4 Add the potatoes and chopped bacon to the onions and apple. Add the green onions, olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and thyme. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve either warm, room temperature, or cold.

These sugar cookies are pure and simple.  You can scoop and bake them, or roll the dough out and cut with cookie cutters.  I don’t have any pictures of the finished baked product because we ate them all!  I rolled the cookies in red, white and blue sanding sugars.  This recipe is a keeper.

Simple Sugar Cookies

  • 2 sticks butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup sugar (processed in a food processor until fine, about 30 seconds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk and 1 whole egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  1. Beat butter on medium speed until smooth, then add sugar and salt and beat until light and fluffy.
  2. Add egg yolk and beat until well blended, then add whole egg and vanilla and beat until well blended.
  3. Reduce speed to low and beat in flour until just combined.
  4. Divide dough in half and wrap each in plastic wrap.  Chill for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
  5. Using a small ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop the dough and roll in between your palms until smooth.
  6. Optional: roll dough balls in colored sugar, place on cookie sheet and flatten to 1/8 inch with the bottom of a glass.
  7. Bake @ 375 for 8 – 10 minutes, remove from cookie sheets and let cool on cooling racks.