Barbecue Ready

Happy Labor Day! It’s still me, Melissa Clark in for the vacationing Sam Sifton, who should be back at the helm at the end of next week, belly full of Maine oysters if he’s lucky. (If you want to read more about why most summer oysters are now as crisp and fat as their winter counterparts, here’s an exhaustive piece about oyster breeding in The Atlantic that I found riveting, oyster sex life and all).

I ate my share of oysters this past week in Houston and Galveston, but really, I was there for the fresh Gulf shrimp — research for a coming article. I’d never had just-caught Gulf shrimp before, and they were a revelation, supple and plump and impossible to stop eating. If you’re fortunate enough to get some, you could use them to make Kim Severson’s Southern shrimp scampi, Colu Henry’s cumin lime shrimp, or Alison Roman’s buttered shrimp on toast. They all look heavenly.

Seafood feasting aside, after a few days of being away for work, I am always ready to be home with my family and friends. So I’m looking forward to this afternoon’s barbecue, where, in addition to seeing all my people, I know I’ll find rare burgers topped with all the fixings. I’ll take mine with cheese, mayo and extra pickles, please. (Or even maybe some fried pickles as brought to us by Alexa Weibel, complete with a pickle-ranch dressing dip). Maybe you’ve also got a burger bash on today’s agenda. If so, you might want to check out Sam Sifton’s burger guide, where there is much wisdom to be absorbed.

Or maybe you’ve been roped in to bringing an appetizer or side dish to the party. We have so many options! There are hearty potato salads, creamy dips galore, refreshing beverages.

If you’ve been called upon to make dessert, this brand-new Ali Slagle recipe for orange creamsicle ice cream cake could be perfect. It’s fast, easy and needs only a couple of hours in the freezer, no baking required. I could also see swapping out lemon sorbet for the orange, just to mix things up (and because I love lemon). Or if you’re in the mood to bake, Margaux Laskey has a recipe for a classic Kentucky butter cake (above), a confection from the ’60s that deserves a revival. She says it tastes like Sara Lee poundcake, but better. I’m in.

What if you’re hosting a party that’s not a cookout? Is that even allowed on Labor Day? I jest! Celebrate anyway you like. And maybe make this electric pressure cooker spicy pork shoulder, which feeds a crowd and won’t heat up your kitchen. It’s good over rice, on slider rolls, and wrapped up in tortillas with avocado slices. You pick.

Or don’t, and choose something entirely different from our vast collection at NYT Cooking. You’ll have to subscribe to get to them all. But you won’t need to pay a thing to check out tips, stories, and recipes on our Instragram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube pages. Check us out and leave a comment so we know you were there. If you’d rather email us directly, you can also do that at [email protected] We’d be thrilled to hear from you.

Have a great holiday, and see you Wednesday!

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