Mostly Cloudy
73°FMostly CloudyFull Forecast

Perfect picnic pairs

Pick tasty, easy-to-make eats and beer for Labor Day feast

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 1)

Bringing eats and libations to a picnic or cookout often requires some planning – unless you’re asked to bring a few bags of chips.

You’ll want to consider what others are bringing (Hint: Don’t assume. Check with organizers.), how many people are expected and whether a dish needs to be kept safely chilled.

Make sure a few classics will be on the table (mom’s baked beans? Your niece’s famous potato salad?), then change things up a bit.

We have a few suggestions, including a trio of easy-to-prepare, easy-to-tote flavorful foods that make good use of the season’s best. A bonus: The oven-baked chicken and hand pies can be prepared a day ahead. And we’ve paired them with an assortment of beers to complete the meal.

THE BEERS

German pilsner: Crisp and dry with more bite than conventional American-style pilsners, German-style pilsners are ideal picnic beers for their clean, refreshing nature. But they also pair brilliantly with many foods, especially the light meatiness of baked herb chicken.

Two to try: Prima Pils from Victory Brewing, which may be the finest pilsner in American craft brewing, and the always dependable Trumer Pils.

Saison: Widely considered the ultimate beer style in food pairing for its unique ability to be complexly zesty without being flashy. Rather than simply refresh like a German pilsner, a saison will add another layer of flavor to your meal.

Two to try: Saison Dupont, a longtime genre classic that cuts masterfully through the creaminess of the peas-and-farro salad, and the lightly tart Sofie, from Goose Island, which refreshes and elevates any meal, but especially a warm-weather picnic.

Fruit lambic: And for dessert, the cherry notes of Lindemans Kriek beautifully mimic the dessert’s sweet-tart dynamic while also cutting through and balancing the flaky, buttery crust.

BAKED HERB CHICKEN

Legs and thighs work well; if using breasts, cut them crosswise into serving-size pieces.

Prep: Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a pie pan, mix 2 cups coarsely crushed cornflakes, 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 1 ½ teaspoons each dried basil and dried thyme, ¾ teaspoon each salt and black pepper, and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes. Pour 2/3 cup canned evaporated milk into a second pie pan.

Coat and bake: Rinse and pat dry 3 pounds bone-in chicken pieces. Roll chicken pieces in milk then in cornflake mixture. Place, skin side up, on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Drizzle with remaining milk and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Bake until juices run clear, 45 to 50 minutes. Serve immediately. Or cool, cover and refrigerate until serving.

Makes: 6 to 8 servings

PEA, WATERMELON AND FARRO SALAD

Adapted from Cooking Light’s “Pick Fresh Cookbook” (Oxmoor House, $21.95). If you’re taking this salad to a picnic or cookout, pack the watermelon, parsley and cheese separately; add to the farro-peas mixture to serve.

Simmer: Place 1 cup uncooked farro or wheat berries in a large saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Heat to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 23 minutes or until desired degree of chewy doneness. Add 1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen; cook until crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Drain. Rinse with cold water; drain.

Toss: Gently toss farro and peas in a large bowl with salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 cups cubed, seeded watermelon and 1 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley; toss to combine. Top with 1/3 cup shaved pecorino Romano cheese. Drizzle with 2 or more tablespoons of olive oil, if you prefer a more moist salad.

Makes: 4 servings

PEACH HAND PIES

Adapted from “Handheld Pies” (Chronicle Books, $19.95) by Sarah Billingsley and Rachel Wharton. This free-form approach lets you choose shapes and sizes for the mini-pies; you may have filling or crust leftover.

Roll: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Take dough for 1 double-crust pie (homemade or packaged). Divide dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll one portion of the dough into a 12- to 14-inch square. Cut into 4- to 5-inch squares or circles. Gather up and reroll scraps only once or dough will become tough. Repeat with second portion of dough.

Fill: Combine 6 cups peaches (in ¼-inch dice), ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup cornstarch, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a bowl; mix gently. Place about a tablespoon or so filling in center of each square or round. Fold dough over filling so edges meet. Moisten edges of dough. Press edges together to seal; or use tines of fork to crimp. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes (or up to 24 hours) before baking.

Bake: Arrange pies on rimmed baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Brush lightly with 1 beaten egg; sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake until crust is golden, 15-20 minutes. Carefully move pies to a baking rack; cool at least 15 minutes. Store cooled pies in an airtight container at room temperature up to two days.

Makes: About 24 four-inch pies

©2013 Chicago Tribune

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Previous Page|1|2|Next Page

Get breaking and town-specific news sent to your phone. Sign up for text alerts from the Morris Daily Herald.

More News

Watch Now

Player embeded on all MDH instances for analytics purposes.

Video of the escort for Marine Lance Cpl. Steven Hancock

More videos »