A day to share food, culture and identity with loved ones, Juneteenth commemorates the freeing of enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. It is now recognized as a federal holiday.
Red foods, which symbolize resilience and joy, are traditionally eaten at Juneteenth celebrations. This brilliant watermelon chow chow and oven-roasted chicken, coated in a bright hibiscus barbecue sauce, are especially nice. But they’re also just suggestions. Add other red dishes, like strawberry hibiscus limeade, Charleston red rice or red velvet cupcakes. Or simply make a couple of the recipes below and fire up the barbecue to let the smell of charcoal, the official bullhorn of summer, summon the ones you love.
Dipped in tartar sauce or an aioli, served with salted butter or on their own, hush puppies — their golden color symbolizing prosperity — are the perfect starter or side for any meal, but especially seafood or barbecue. The cornmeal batter is studded with onion and chives, then fried in a couple of inches of hot oil until the outside becomes crispy and delectable and the insides are moist and tender.
It’s spicy, it’s sweet, it’s tangy. A fantastic condiment, watermelon chow chow has a bright freshness and a gentle crunch that mellows with time. It lends a kick to anything it’s spooned over, whether grilled meats, like hot dogs or hot links, or collard greens.
This oven chicken layers sweet, tart and peppery flavors: A dry rub built on seasoned salt, onion powder and garlic powder infuses the meat until it’s delightfully savory, then a homemade hibiscus barbecue sauce — a counterpoint to the meaty roasted chicken — is layered on and baked until slightly sticky and caramelized.
This vintage cake recipe is part pound cake, part coffee cake, but, here, a crunchy brown sugar-pecan topping is inside rather than on top for tidier, tastier eating. Ideal for coffee or brunch, or ending a Juneteenth celebration, it’s made with abundance in mind and fit for feeding a crowd.