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(Left) Dinner is served: pork loin and cherries, wood-roasted carrots, and grilled peppers and Burrata. (Right) Bryan Dayton mans the head of the table.

The Perfect End-of-Summer Feast

Six restaurant-inspired recipes for an idyllic backyard dinner.

By |

End-of-summer evenings may be the best times of the year to host backyard feasts. For Steven Redzikowski and Bryan Dayton of Acorn, Oak at Fourteenth, and Brider, that means putting just about everything on the grill—local squash, chiles, carrots, and pork. Top that with dessert and a chilled cocktail, and you’ll create a night your guests won’t soon forget.

Menu: Serves 10 to 12

Appetizer: Grilled Summer Zucchini with Homemade Ricotta and Fennel Pollen

Entree: Wood-Grilled Pork Loin with Cherries, Farm Onions, and Cumin-Miso Sauce

Sides: 1) Grilled Peppers and Chiles with Anchovies, Burrata, and Cherry Tomatoes. 2) Wood-Roasted Carrots with Cumin-Spiced Yogurt and Harissa Sauce

Dessert: Honey-Lavender Panna Cotta with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote and Almond Streusel

Cocktail: Autumn in Jalisco

Wine: Keep Rosé

Beer: Reissdorf Kolsch; Odell Meddler


Appetizer: Grilled Summer Zucchini with Homemade Ricotta and Fennel Pollen

Left: Zucchini and ricotta salad; Right: Colorado’s bounty

2 yellow squash, ½-inch bias cuts

2 zucchini, ¼-inch slices

1 cucumber, ½-inch bias cuts

1 cucumber, ¼-inch slices, reserved

1 ½ tablespoons fennel pollen (may substitute ground and toasted fennel seeds)

ricotta (recipe follows)

Calabrian chile oil (optional)

fresh mint (garnish)

fresh basil (garnish)

fresh tarragon (garnish)

fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley (garnish)

salt and pepper to taste

Toss squash, zucchini, and ½-inch bias-cut cucumber with salt, pepper, fennel pollen, and olive oil and grill in a basket until tender. Keep the ¼-inch cucumber slices raw.

For the ricotta

In a saucepot, bring milk, cream, sugar, and salt to 151°, remove from heat, and whisk in citric acid or lemon juice. Let sit for 20 minutes and then strain through a chinois (or a sieve) lined with cheesecloth. Let sit and cool.

To assemble the dish: On a large serving platter, add dollops of ricotta cheese and arrange pieces of the zucchini, squash, and raw and grilled cucumbers. Drizzle with Calabrian chile oil, if desired, and garnish with the fresh herbs.


Entree: Wood-Grilled Pork Loin with Cherries, Farm Onions, and Cumin-Miso Sauce

Left: Colorado cherries; Right: Slices of pork await the cumin-miso sauce

6- to 8-pound bone-in pork loin

2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped

2 tablespoons thyme, chopped

5 cloves garlic, chopped

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons fennel seeds, toasted and ground

6 red bliss potatoes, cut into quarters

4 farm onions or scallions, cut into quarters

cumin-miso sauce (recipe follows)

15 Bing cherries, pitted and halved

salt and pepper to taste

Combine the herbs, garlic, mustard, oil, and fennel seeds and rub into the pork loin. Chill for 3 to 4 hours.

Toss potatoes and onions with olive oil, salt, and pepper and wrap in foil. Place on the grill and cook through until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Grill the pork loin for 40 to 45 minutes, rotating frequently on indirect heat until it reaches an internal temperature of 135°. Let rest for 20 minutes, and then slice the meat into 10 to 12 pieces.

For the cumin-miso sauce

1 ½ cups ancho paste

3 tablespoons red miso paste

½ cup honey

½ tablespoon black pepper

½ tablespoon cumin

½ tablespoon rosemary

1 ½ tablespoons yuzu juice

¾ cup rice vinegar

¼ cup water

½ cup blended oil (¼ cup olive oil and ¼ cup canola oil, mixed)

Put everything in the blender (except the oil) and blend until well incorporated. Slowly drizzle in the oil to emulsify.

To assemble the dish: On a serving platter or wooden board, arrange pork with the potatoes and onions and serve with the cumin-miso sauce drizzled over the top. Garnish with the cherries.


Side: Grilled Peppers and Chiles with Anchovies, Burrata, and Cherry Tomatoes

2 red peppers

2 yellow peppers

4–5 serrano chiles

12–15 cherry tomatoes, halved

6 ounces Burrata

7–8 anchovy filets

fresh mint

fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste

Grill peppers and chiles until the skins are blistered on the outside. Place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let steam for about 5 minutes.

Remove peppers and chiles and carefully peel the skins with a sharp knife. Cut peppers and chiles into quarters and discard the seeds. Toss with cherry tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Finish with olive oil until just coated.

On a serving platter, arrange peppers, chiles, and tomatoes and add dollops of Burrata around the plate. Garnish with anchovy filets, mint, and basil.


Side: Wood-Roasted Carrots with Cumin-Spiced Yogurt and Harissa Sauce

Left: Roasted carrots capture the smokiness of the grill while getting a flavor boost from harissa; Right: Radzikowski works the grill

2 pounds local baby carrots (Redzikowski gets his from Red Wagon Farm), washed thoroughly

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground

1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup cooked farro (recipe follows)

1 cup granola (recipe follows)

1 cup harissa sauce (recipe follows)

salt and pepper to taste

Toss the carrots with the salt, pepper, and olive oil and grill in a basket until tender. Fold toasted and ground cumin into the yogurt and set aside.

For the farro

2 cups farro, toasted in oven for 12–15 minutes at 350°

1 cup chicken stock

1 quart water

large sachet bag of thyme*

½ garlic head

Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to a light simmer. Cook until tender, drain, and reserve. (Be sure to not boil or overcook farro—the grains should be tender but not broken.)

*Using a six-inch piece of cheesecloth and a piece of butcher’s twine, wrap 5–6 thyme sprigs inside the cheesecloth and tie it tight with the twine.

For the granola

¾ cups honey

½ cup brown sugar

1 cup blended oil (½ cup olive oil and ½ cup canola oil, mixed)

1 tablespoon vanilla paste (can substitute vanilla extract)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 ½ pounds oats

1 ½ cups almonds, pulsed in food processor

Place honey, sugar, oil, vanilla, and cinnamon in a large saucepot and heat on medium-low until sugar is melted. Remove from heat and add oats and almonds; toss well. Bake at 300° for 15 to 20 minutes or until honey is no longer sticky. Stir and cook for another 15 minutes. Let cool. (This recipe makes more granola than what you need. Use the rest on top of fresh fruit, on ice cream, or in salads.)

For the harissa sauce

7 dried ancho chiles

1 tablespoon dried chipotle powder

½ tablespoon caraway seed

½ tablespoon coriander seed

½ tablespoon cumin seed

15 piquillo peppers

juice from 2 lemons

4 cloves garlic

1 ½ cups blended oil (¾ cup olive oil and ¾ cup canola oil, mixed)

carrot tops, chopped (garnish)

salt and pepper to taste

Rehydrate the chiles in hot water for about 5 minutes, then drain and discard stems and seeds. Toast all the spices. Place all ingredients (except carrot tops) in the blender and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Add a little water if too thick; strain through a chinois.

To assemble the dish: On a serving platter, spread a base of the cumin-spiced yogurt and add dollops of the harissa sauce. Add small piles of farro and build up the grilled carrots around the farro. Sprinkle with granola. If desired, add chopped carrot tops as garnish.


Dessert: Honey-Lavender Panna Cotta with Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote and Almond Streusel

Left: Dayton pours some life into the festivities; Right: Single-serving panna cottas

For the panna cotta

2 quarts whole milk

2 quarts cream

11 ounces honey

½ ounce lavender

16 sheets gelatin (or substitute 3 tablespoons powdered gelatin)

Warm the milk, cream, honey, and lavender to just before a boil. Whisk in gelatin. Let stand 30 minutes, then strain through a chinois. To set, pour 4-ounce portions into glass ramekins or rocks glasses and refrigerate overnight.

For the almond streusel

8 tablespoons room-temperature butter

6 tablespoons brown sugar

6 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 cup slivered almonds

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well incorporated. Place mixture on a sheet tray lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and bake at 325° for approximately 25 minutes, rotating the tray occasionally. Make sure the mixture is cooked through and there are no large chunks.

For the strawberry-rhubarb compote

1 quart rhubarb, medium dice

zest and juice from ½ lemon

zest and juice from ½ lime

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ pint sugar

½ pint water

½ tablespoon pectin and ½ tablespoon sugar, mixed together

½ quart strawberries, medium dice

Combine all ingredients (except the strawberries) in a pot and bring to a simmer. Once the rhubarb begins to break down, add the strawberries and pull from heat. Chill.

To assemble the dessert: Top the chilled panna cottas with strawberry-rhubarb compote and a sprinkling of the almond streusel.


Cocktail: Autumn in Jalisco (Makes 1)

Right: The evening’s signature cocktail; Left: Radzikowski and Dayton take a breather

1 ½ ounces Suerte Reposado tequila

¹?³ ounce Ancho Reyes (ancho chile liqueur easily found at area liquor stores)

½ ounce simple syrup

¹?³ ounce fresh lemon juice

1 ounce organic apple juice or cider

apple fan (garnish)

Place all ingredients (except the apple fan) in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice and garnish with a fan of apple slices.


—Food recipes by Steve Redzikowski; Drinks by Bryan Dayton; Photography by Aaron Colussi (unless noted); Styling by Erica McNeish; Location scouting by Natalie Warady; Location homeowner: Leslie Walters

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