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Ask A Detroit Chef: Easy 4th Of July Recipes

Chef James Rigato
(Courtesy of James Rigato)

Looking for some easy 4th of July recipes to make for the holiday? Look no further - Chef James Rigato has you covered.

Chef James Rigato
The Root Restaurant & Bar
340 Town Center Blvd.
White Lake, MI 48386
(248) 698-2400

Michigan native and White Lake resident James Rigato enrolled in the culinary program at Schoolcraft at the age of 17. He got a taste of Italian food and culture early in life, as his first influences were his Italian grandfather and great-grandmother. His resume includes Morels, Shiraz, Rugby Grille at the Townsend Hotel and Bacco Ristorante as well as The Root, currently. James opened The Root Restaurant & Bar with proprietor Ed Mamou when he was 26, and the restaurant features "seasonal, sustainable cuisine that honors the artisans and farmers behind it." In his free time, James enjoys the outdoors - exploring, cycling, kayaking, camping - and, of course, eating.

Grilled Mexican Street Corn


  • 6 ears corn, peeled and cleaned
  • 1/2 cup aioli (a simple internet recipe will work)
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino
  • 1 tablespoon ground chipotle powder
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges, squeezed over the corn at guests' leisure


  1. Grill the corn on high heat until nice and charred, not too long to dry out the corn but enough to snap and crackle a little.
  2. Rub the aioli on the corn and sprinkle with the cheese and chipotle.
  3. Serve immediately with a lime wedge.

Related: Best Places To See Fireworks In Detroit

Cucumber & Cilantro Limeade


  • 1 quart lime juice
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 cups simple syrup
  • 1 English cucumber, sliced into coins
  • 1 large bunch cilantro


  1. Juice enough limes to get to 1 quart.
  2. Mix with water and chilled simple syrup (simple syrup is equal parts water and sugar cooked until dissolved evenly).
  3. Stir in whole cilantro and sliced cucumber.
  4. Let sit in refrigerator for a couple of hours.
  5. Serve on ice and garnish your glasses with a cucumber slice.
Chicken Brine


  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 dried ancho chilies
  • 1/4 cup peppercorns
  • 12 garlic cloves


  1. When cooking chicken, especially on the grill, it is best to brine it beforehand. Not only will it help to season the chicken, but it will help keep moisture in the birds. You can also add other savory elements to the brine that will match the flavor of the barbecue sauce or accompaniments of the meal.
  2. Mix everything together and cook until dissolved.
  3. Let cool completely before submerging chicken. Soak chicken completely in brine for up to 24 hours.
  4. Feel free to substitute things like cider or beer instead of water to impart more flavor.

Related: Best 4th of July Parties In Detroit

Liz Parker is a freelance writer and a University of Michigan graduate with a degree in Creative Writing and Literature. Her work can be found at and

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