In the spirit of Independence Day I have put together some recipes that I love and hope you will enjoy all summer long! I want to wish you and all of your families, friends and loved ones all the best as we joyfully celebrate our nation’s birthday!

God Bless You all and God Bless America!

The Fort McHenry Burger

(This recipe makes approximately 8 burgers)

2 lbs. 80/20 ground beef

1 pound ground slab bacon

1 TBSP Kosher Salt

1 TBSP Cracked black pepper

1 TBSP Garlic Powder

1 TBSP Paprika

1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce

1 TBSP Ketchup

1 TBSP BBQ Sauce

Your choice of cheese, however, I recommend a good sharp cheddar cheese.

Sliced beefsteak tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, and crisp romaine lettuce

Below is a list of local purveyors that I recommend to you.

As for a bun, I recommend you go to Continental Bakery on Grand Ave in Maspeth (this place is a hidden gem) and pick up some of their pretzel buns, they are great for this recipe. As for the ground meat, I always recommend my friends at Mario’s Meat market on Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village – this place is fantastic and both the butcher shop and deli are amazing! For those closer to Maspeth I also recommend the Iavarone Brothers of Grand Avenue as well.


In a bowl, mix the ground beef and ground slab bacon. Incorporate all the dry ingredients first by lightly mixing. Next, add your wet ingredients and mix thoroughly, being careful not to over mix the meat.
Weigh out your patties into 6oz portions and then tightly form them on your cutting board using your finger to make a hole through the middle of the patty (this ensures even cooking and an overall better burger). Once you have made your burgers let them set for at least 2-4 hours. For the best results, make them the night before and let them sit covered in the refrigerator so all the flavors will marry nicely!

Once you have grilled the burgers to a temperature of at least medium well (remember there is bacon in this burger), add the cheese to finish. Lightly toast your pretzel bun. (You can also use a potato or brioche bun for this recipe but the pretzel bun is the best.) Smear on both sides of the bun my “Francis Scott Key herb garlic, roasted pepper aioli”. Place the burger on the bun and top with lettuce, tomato and onion. Serve and enjoy!

Francis Scott Key Herb Garlic, Basil, Roasted Pepper Aioli

2 cups Hellman’s Mayo

1 ½ TBSP fresh squeezed Lemon Juice

1 TBSP fresh lemon zest

3 cloves fresh minced garlic

2/3 cup fresh chopped basil

1 cup fire roasted red peppers, drained well and minced

1 TSP cracked black pepper

1 TSP Kosher Salt

In a food processor or blender, mix the ingredients until smoothly blended. This aioli is versatile and it will keep for a while so it can be prepped earlier and put in the refrigerator for at least a couple of days before you serve it.

Lexington and Concord Fire-Roasted Corn

6 ears farm fresh corn

1 pint fresh grated aged Pecorino Romano or Parmesan

¼ pound Finlandia salted butter

1 sprig rosemary finely chopped w/o stems

2 sprigs thyme also chopped finely

1 TSP Kosher salt

1 TSP paprika

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced finely

In a frying pan, slowly melt the butter, add the spices and herbs mixing vigorously for 45-60 seconds. Next, add your minced garlic and lightly toast the garlic. Once the ingredients are all incorporated start to roll the ears of corn in the mixture. On a separate plate, add your grated cheese, roll the buttered ears of corn in the grated cheese and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Put on the grill for at least 20-25 minutes and serve hot!

John Ricco is a licensed mortgage broker and local chef living in Maspeth with roots in Greenpoint, Brooklyn dating back to 1892.