Ultimate Labor Day Grub Guide

Our readers and local restaurant owners share some of their favorite entrees and sides to serve this holiday weekend

It’s the end of the summer season and what better way to celebrate then with a big family cookout.

This year, the Pioneer asked you to submit your favorite recipes for our Ultimate Labor Day Grub Guide. We’ve compiled some of our readers’ favorite dishes, as well as some of our own.

To wash it all down, our very own “Sultan of Suds” Jim Crees gives us his draft picks to go with our Labor Day dinner.

Whether you’re following our grub guide or your own, we wish you a happy, safe and tasty Labor Day weekend.

 

READERS’ PICKS

With so many Labor Day dinner possibilities, here’s what some of our readers recommend.

Apple-Cauliflower Casserole
Submitted by Ruth McClurg

  • 1 medium sized cauliflower, separated into medium pieces.
  • Boil in salted water until tender (or steam until tender). Drain.
  • 1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms and 1/2 cup butter.
  • Brown mushrooms in melted butter .
  • Blend in 1/4 cup flour and 2 cups milk, and cook until thick, stirring constantly.
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Make up one cup of peeled and grated winesap or golden delicious apples. (Or just cut apples into small chunks)

Put half the cauliflower in a greased casserole dish and cover with half the grated apple and half the 6 slices (6 ounces) of pimiento cheese, and half the mushroom sauce.

Repeat the layers to finish the rest.

Sprinkle top with paprika.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Top should become lightly browned.

Makes 4 to 8 servings, depending on who likes how much of it.

 

Baked Lettuce and Mushrooms a la Parisienne
Submitted by Ruth McClurg

  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms (must be fresh)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided (don’t use margarine)
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crumbled fresh basil
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce
  • 10 ounces fresh, or thawed frozen, green peas
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 10-1/2 ounces of chicken broth

Clean mushrooms. Saute with onions in 4 tablespoons of melted butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Cut lettuce head into four wedges.

Scatter peas in a shallow two-quart round casserole dish. Spoon half the mushroom mix onto the peas. Top with the lettuce wedges.

Melt the rest of the butter, add the flour and brown it a bit. Stir in the broth and basil. Stir and cook until it’s thickened.

Stir in the rest of the mushroom mix. Spoon it over the lettuce. Cover the whole thing with foil.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes – no longer. Serve as a side dish/hot salad with a main entrée. Be sure to dip down into the peas to spoon over the lettuce as it’s served. Serves 4 to 8.

 

Burgundy Venison Steak Tips
Submitted by Marie Teceno

  • 2 pounds of venison steak, cut in small cubes
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons dry onion soup mix
  • 3 beef bouillon cubes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup Burgundy wine
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms or 4 ounces canned

Brown meat in hot oil. Add remaining ingredients and simmer about an hour or until tender. Add mushrooms at the last five minutes. If you like, thicken it with a little flour and water or cornstarch. Serve over noodles or rice.

 

LOCAL RESTAURANT OWNERS/CHEF FOOD PICKS

From corn on the cob and baked potatoes to steaks and chicken breast, here’s what some of Big Rapids’ local restaurant owners are cooking this Labor Day weekend.

Jim Crank, owner of Cranker’s Brewery

“Because I’m a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, I love to grill a bone-in steak. I do it very simply, just making sure the right grill marks are on it. I like the rib eye because it’s a very good steak. I like my steaks medium. It’s got a nice little eye that goes through it that provides the fat; they’re usually well-marbled.

“I pair it with a baked potato wrapped in foil that you do right on the grill. Also, corn on the grill; I soak it in a marinade before roasting it.”

 

Connie Freiberg, owner and chef at the Blue Cow Cafe

“It’s got to be the Firehouse rib eye (steak) at the Blue Cow. I wouldn’t do anything else. It’s perfect every time. The rib eye is in a light marinade, but you have to start out with good, quality meat to begin with.

“For a side, I would edge it in with some fall flavors, maybe some warm German potato salad kicked up a notch with some crumbled blue cheese and a little bacon. Right now, zucchini is in big time in the farmers markets. On the grill, it’s fantastic. You take the zucchini, half it, put it on the grill, get those nice grill marks on it, pull it off and brush it with olive oil and the seasonings you’re using on your steak.”

 

Brett Alward, owner of the Gypsy Nickel

“I’m a steak man. I’ve got my own special blend of seasonings at home. I spice it up, rub it in and leave it out for a few hours before tossing it on the grill.

“I usually do asparagus with it. Asparagus with olive oil, spices and garlic and grill it. Maybe some redskin (potatoes).”

 

Kraig Snyder, owner of Snyder’s Marketing and Catering

“My favorite thing to grill on Labor Day is not grilling, because I grill all week (laugh). I imagine we’ll grill something this weekend, maybe some marinated chicken breast or steaks. We like to grill everything.

“I like to grill vegetables, too, like asparagus, the occasional peach or roasted red peppers. If you can eat it, you can grill it.”

 

This Labor Day’s Draft Picks

We’re taking all the thinking out of what drinks to pair with our Ultimate Labor Day Grub Guide. The Pioneer’s own Jim Crees has hand-picked a couple of flavorful Michigan suds to complement our meal.

Frangelic Mountain
Brown Founders Brewing Company, Grand Rapids

Frangelic is an American brown ale recently re-released by a Michigan cornerstone brewery – Founders.

This exemplary brown ale pours a deep, luxurious brown, strongly hinting at chestnut color. It has a warm and inviting depth.

There was a pretty decent head that lasted long enough to make use of while investigating the rich scents and aroma exuded by this great brew.

There is definitely something nutty about this ale. It almost reminds one of the classic chocolate spread Nutella! I guess that is based on hazelnuts.

This is certainly a malt-forward brew. Coffee and other scents are somewhat muted, overpowered by a great outdoorsy, woodsy nut aroma wafting up from the depths.

There is more of the coffee – even mildly espresso – taste at first wash, and there’s a bit of caramel toffee hidden in the background. The nutty taste remains dominant through and to the end.

I think the blend of taste and smell is most enjoyable. Lots of fun.

This is a slightly thicker drink – I guess toward the middle in body. Some may not like this as much as less suggestive brews, but this is a brown ale worthy of a better investigation.

Standing next to the grill, with the attendant scents and smoke, can only highlight the wonderful, pungent taste of Frangelic.

It really does complement a steak very, very well, and is not so overpowering as to cover the taste of side dishes.

Other recommended brown ales include Brownstone American Brown Ale, Ellie’s Brown Ale, Lost Trout, and my all time favorite, Moose Drool by Big Sky Brewing.

 

Beach Wheat
Short’s Brewing
Company, Bellaire

This is one of my favorite Hefweizen-style beers from one of my favorite breweries in Michigan.

Beach Wheat pours a deep-ish golden color that seems a bit hazy – especially the cooler it’s chilled.

There is pretty little head, but what there is forms thick and lasts a good while.

Beach Wheat is a very aromatic brew with light fruits leading the list of forward scents. There is even a hint of lemony scent here, although not at all overwhelming. There is great balance and a strong feeling that the brewmaster really worked at this recipe – carefully and lovingly.

At first wash, this is a very, very refreshing brew – absolutely great for the end of summer celebration on the deck.

There is a ton of flavor here – all sort of things hidden and revealing themselves with each swish and swirl in the mouth.

The mouth feel is good without being too fizzy or overly aggressive.

This is a great example of a Hefweizen, one that will well-complement any light grilled dish – such as a well-constructed cheeseburger.

It also will go very well with any of the accompanying salads or side dishes.

Some other excellent Hefweizens include Arbor Brewing’s Bavarian Bliss, Haystack Wheat, Shiner Hefeweizen and Frankenmuth Hefeweizen.

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