In honor of this holiday, I am revealing a long-held secret family recipe: Cowboy Jim’s Fourth of July Steak.
Gather at least twice as much mesquite wood as you think you could possibly need. If possible, get someone else to do this for you. Grubbing mesquite is hard work, best done competitively by teenaged boys.
Carve up a half a pound per person of the cheapest steak you can find.
At least an hour before you’re ready to cook, start a fire on the ground in the protected hollow of a sand hill. Pile on the mesquite and let it burn down until your guests feel faint from hunger.
Clean off a rusty piece of expanded metal with an old gunny sack. Balance it over the coals on four large tin cans. Slap those steaks on fast. Your face should be blistering, and the hairs should be singeing off your forearms.
As you put on the last piece of raw meat, start turning over the first ones. Season excessively with salt and black pepper. Just before serving, let two or three children scuffle nearby and kick sand over all of it.
Steaks should be charred on the outside, raw on the inside and exasperatingly crunchy. Perfect.
Happy Fourth of July!
Betty Williamson grew up knowing there was a guaranteed trip to Hades for anyone who overcooked beef. You may contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org