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4th of July: The best American foods you can buy and recipes for staple dishes

Fire up the grill and enjoy some of these mouth-watering dishes

Louise Whitbread
Thursday 02 July 2020 17:08 BST
Head stateside for dinner inspiration with our guide to the best American foods to eat
Head stateside for dinner inspiration with our guide to the best American foods to eat (iStock)

As Americans fire up the grill for fourth of July celebrations, we've decided to get in on the action by finding the best stateside foods to buy in the UK.

Head across the pond this weekend, figuratively of course, and whip up dishes and desserts that will satisfy your taste buds.

To provide some inspiration, we've created the ultimate guide to American-inspired cuisine, covering everything from recipes to cooking techniques and US products, from condiments to sweet treats.

Whether you're a fan of dirty burgers and classic hot dogs or are looking for vegetarian and vegan adaptations of classic dishes, there's something for everyone in this tasty round-up.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Condiments

First up is the sauce. Whether you're slathering it onto slabs of meat before they hit the grill or using as a dipping sauce for wings, the right condiment can take your food to the next level.

In our guide to the best condiments, we loved the Dr Will's BBQ sauce (Dr Will's, £3.50) which has smoky and sweet notes thanks to the paprika, tomatoes and dates.

Spice up your barbecue cooking with a bottle of this sauce (Dr Will's)
Spice up your barbecue cooking with a bottle of this sauce (Dr Will's)

We used it in multiple ways; for chip dipping, a pizza base and even with a can of jackfruit.

For marinating, try the Bone Suckin’ sauce (Amazon, £9.99) that delivers a sweet, tangy and slightly smoky kick thanks to its tomato and vinegar base.

This sauce works wonders on a multitude of dishes
This sauce works wonders on a multitude of dishes (BBQ Gourmet)

Liberally apply it when grilling pork, beef, chicken and even vegetables for a taste of South Carolina.

This Truff hotter black truffle hot sauce (Hot Headz, £18.50) will also help spice up your cooking but won't overwhelm your senses.

A good hot sauce will strike the balance between sweet and spicy (Hot Headz)
A good hot sauce will strike the balance between sweet and spicy (Hot Headz)

The heat comes from jalapenos and red chilli peppers but is combined with the notes of black truffle and just a touch of agave nectar to sweeten the deal.

We loved a glug of it on creamy mac and cheese but it’s also excellent on avocado toast, in soups and with barbecued steak.

Barbecue essentials

When it comes to the main meal, barbecue is a staple style of cooking for Americans, with 63 per cent of American grill-owners throwing a barbecue party on the fourth of July. Our IndyBest reviewers are well-versed in testing barbecues and accessories, so we've found the best kit to use this summer and beyond.

In our round-up of the best gas barbecues, we found the Weber spirit II E-320 (Weber, £699) performed the best, especially when cooking for a larger family.

A gas barbecue is much quicker to get cooking on than a charcoal model, and means you won’t have to get your hands dirty or deal with the plumes of smoke either.

The grill also works with Weber’s new iGrill 3 “smart” thermometer, which means you can keep on top of how your meat is cooking via an app on your phone (The Independent)
The grill also works with Weber’s new iGrill 3 “smart” thermometer, which means you can keep on top of how your meat is cooking via an app on your phone (The Independent)

The cast-iron grate gave a really good sear to all of our tester’s food, and it incorporates a removable circular section, so you can accessorise with a pizza stone, griddle or even a wok, adding real versatility to the meals that you produce.

We never knew we needed this Apption labs Meater+ smart wireless meat thermometer (Meater, £99) until we tried it. It helps to ensure your meat is cooked to perfection without having to cut it in half to check.

This wireless meat thermometer syncs to an app on your phone so you'll never burn your barbecued meat (Meater+)
This wireless meat thermometer syncs to an app on your phone so you'll never burn your barbecued meat (Meater+) (iStock)

Simply stick the probe into the thickest section of the meat and then sync it to your smartphone. Tell the app what type of meat you’re cooking, how you’d like it cooked (from rare to very well done), and as long as you’re within 50m, it will tell you when it’s ready to eat without the need to keep lifting the barbecue lid.

An alarm will alert you if there’s an expected surge in temperature thanks to misbehaving flames and it will even advise the best resting time, too.

Of course, you can’t flip burgers without a good pair of tongs. This Big Green Egg professional-grade BBQ tool set with wood handles (The BBQ Shop £32.50), has everything you need for a complete kit.

For basting and flipping, a good quality toolset will take your barbecue feast to the next level
For basting and flipping, a good quality toolset will take your barbecue feast to the next level (The BBQ Shop)

It comes with tongs, grill spatula and basting brush so you can serve up a well-cooked feast.

For that all-important seasoning, try this all American barbecue rub set (Borough Box, £20) which has five different BBQ rubs to choose from: pitmaster, South Carolina , ancho coffee, Louisiana cajun and chipotle charcoal.

Take you pick from five different barbecue rubs to season your meat with
Take you pick from five different barbecue rubs to season your meat with (Borough Box)

Those ribs, brisket, burgers, pulled pork and steaks will never taste so good.

Meat boxes

As much as we would love to barbecue American meat cuts, we'd suggest shopping locally for your next cookout from our guide to meat boxes from ethical farms. Delivered straight to your doorstep, these quality kits will support British farmers and environmentally friendly practices.

Try the Cotswold Beef taster box (Cotswold Beed, £75) which featured some of the most delicious looking steaks we’d seen in a while. Our reviewers put them straight onto the barbecue.

Shop from local British farmers for flavoursome cuts of meat for the BBQ (Cotswold Beef)
Shop from local British farmers for flavoursome cuts of meat for the BBQ (Cotswold Beef)

"They had a distinct flavour and using sauces would have felt like a betrayal of the quality of meat; even the fat had a gamey flavour to it," our tester said.

Barbecue cookbooks

Many American culinary favourites can be found on the grill, from hot dogs and burgers to ribs and brisket. In our guide to the best barbecue recipe books, we delved into dishes ranging from huge hunks of meat to delicate canapes and flavoursome veggies.

Our favourite was Fire food: The ultimate BBQ cookbook by DJ BBQ (Amazon, £19.99) which takes a scientific approach to cooking over a flame with charcoal and wood barbecues. The photography is clear and instructional and the recipes are focused mainly around meat, though there are veg-focused dishes throughout.

Work your way through these delicious recipes for cooking on charcoal and wood barbecues (The Independent)
Work your way through these delicious recipes for cooking on charcoal and wood barbecues (The Independent)

According to our reviewer: "A stand-out dish is his Alabama white sauce chicken, which was recommended several times over, and we’ll be making his super-simple "dirty onions" (literally a whole unpeeled onion placed in the coals) forevermore.

"He does refined dishes pretty well too: scallops with pineapple and chorizo are delicate yet meaty and his Portuguese inspired beer clams are a bowl of briney, beery pleasure."

If you're vegetarian, try taking a page out of Fire smoke green: Vegetarian barbecue, smoking and grilling Recipes by Martin Nordin (Abe Books, £10.89) for inspiration for your next barbecue.

Cooking on a grill as a vegetarian doesn't mean you have to be stuck with potato salad, there's plenty of veggie dishes to try (Abe Books)
Cooking on a grill as a vegetarian doesn't mean you have to be stuck with potato salad, there's plenty of veggie dishes to try (Abe Books)

The chef covers how to cook with different woods, coals and grill equipment and our reviewer found the recipes to be varied and thrilling. Mouth-watering examples include pizza with blue potatoes and sprouts and truffle and smoky beetroot and mushroom stew.

Sweet treats

Nobody does sugar quite like America, from s'mores to candyfloss, they'll satisfy a sweet tooth like no other.

S'mores are traditionally made by roasting marshmallows over a fire and sandwiching them between two biscuits with a generous helping of melted chocolate.

If you don't have a fire, you can still make your own with this marshmallow s'mores gift set (Naked Marshmellow, £24).

Enjoy s-mores from the comfort of your home, with or without a fire thanks to this kit
Enjoy s-mores from the comfort of your home, with or without a fire thanks to this kit (Naked Marshmellow)

The kit comes with everything your need to master the classic American treat including; eight handmade gourmet marshmallows, eight Graham crackers, three Hershey’s chocolate bars (creamy milk chocolate, cookies n’ cream & cookies n’ chocolate), a non-toxic gel burner and a set of eight bamboo skewers.

Oreo lovers should stock up on these Oreo ice cream sandwiches (Tesco, £2.50) for an after-dinner snack too.

This Oreo ice cream biscuit is a combination of two of our favourite things
This Oreo ice cream biscuit is a combination of two of our favourite things (Tesco)

They're vegan and a giant version of the signature snack.

For pancakes, waffles, sundaes and french toast, a large drizzle of maple syrup is a must-have.

Satisfy a sweet tooth with ample helpings of maple syrup
Satisfy a sweet tooth with ample helpings of maple syrup (Amazon)

Try the Kirkland signature Canadian maple syrup (Amazon, £13.20). It's free from preservatives with no added sugar and the one litre bottle will last you a long while.

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