Labor Day is here again, that glorious bank holiday created to celebrate—well, nobody really knows, exactly. It's technically supposed to commemorate the American worker, or something, by giving us all a break from our collective case of the Mondays.
It's our last real chance to spend a weekday grilling steaks and seafood and whatever else tickles our fancy before summer starts to turn to fall.
Considering this might very well be your last summer cookout, you want to make it count. So put off the ever shorter days to come with this celebration of meat and fire. These recipes below are designed to give you the best damn cookout of the summer while doing as little work as practical.
You want to avoid exerting energy? Make steak. The beauty of throwing a great piece of meat on the grill is that it's always impressive, but takes almost no work. That's why it should be the official food of Labor Day, and you should do it justice by grilling up this rib-eye with nam jim—a simple Thai sauce made with soybeans, ginger and garlic. Even if you completely botch the steak (which you won't, because that's incredibly difficult), you can pretty much drink the fresh, umami nam jim and be satisfied.
Perhaps even simpler, and just as delicious, carne asada can be found at virtually any Mexican barbecue for a reason. It's also the most ubiquitous taco filling south of the border, but the beauty of this carne asada is that this skirt steak is so juicy and flavorful it doesn't even need the extra flavor the tortilla and the rest of the taco fillings provide. Plus, it's only really got two steps, which is important because this day is nothing if not an ode to not working.
But if you are craving tacos (and why wouldn't you be?), and you happen to have some corn tortillas, cilantro, lime, and onion laying around, you might as well reserve a bit of your carne asada for these Misson-style tacos, courtesy of pro skateboarder Tony Trujillo. They're just about the best thing you'll have this side of a California taqueria.
Nothing says summer like ribs, and nothing says not working like throwing something in the oven for 2.5 hours while you lay back and drink a session beer. That's why these melt-in-your-mouth tender Pinoy-style ribs should be your go-to for Labor Day. If you're feeling inspired to put a little more effort in, these sticky, tender, salty-sweet Asian baby back ribs are the stuff that Homer Simpson's dreams are made of.
You can never have enough ribs, especially as we wind down on prime rib-eating season. These pomegranate molasses back-alley ribs, courtesy of Matty Matheson, are mind-blowing and beautiful. They're a bit more laborious, but you'll be so excited to eat them that it won't actually feel like you're working.
At some point, you're probably going to want to add some surf to all this turf, which is when you should fire up these Caribbean-style sugarcane-skewered shrimp. Just marinate them in citrus, honey, and chilies, then slide them on a sugarcane skewer, throw them on the grill and transport yourself to the the tropical getaway of Relaxville.
OK, OK. All this is great, but your barbecue still needs burgers. This is an American holiday, after all. And here is the most American dish you can have (courtesy of our favorite Canadian). These perfect cheeseburgers are stupid easy to make, topped with American cheese, and held together with a star-spangled toothpick just for good measure.
Vegetarians, vegans: don't think we forgot about you. These mushroom-based Burgerlords veggie burgers are so meaty and flavorful they're almost as good a burger made from cow.
But unless everyone at your barbecue happens to avoid eating animal parts, you should definitely have a sausage party—which starts by making your own chorizo. And we know what you're thinking: making sausage sounds like most anti-Labor Day thing you can do. It's time-consuming, it's labor-intensive, and it's just not necessary. But when you stroll up to your party and tell everyone that you made these homemade chorizo sausages from scratch using Seth Rogen and Jamie Bissonette's recipe, you'll be able to spend the rest of the day reclining on a chaise lounge while all your new best friends fight over who gets to refill your drink.
Case of the Mondays, see you next week.