Here’s your chance to celebrate America’s birthday like Ree Drummond! As The Pioneer Woman’s four children have grown, so too has her annual Fourth of July potluck, since she and her husband of 22 years, Ladd Drummond, launched it 19 years ago. “We started having it when my oldest [Alex] was two, and it has grown every year,” she tells Us Weekly.
Now Ree, 50, estimates, the once intimate celebration has ballooned to about 250 people: “We moved it to town last year and it was more like 500,” she adds with a laugh. “We’ve created a monster!”
Before the yearly event, there’s work to be done on the ranch the family calls home, eight miles west of Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Expect “lots of mowing, weeding, and then we start preparing a horse trailer full of fireworks.” While Ladd, 50, and her kids Alex, Paige, Bryce and Todd get the fireworks ready, the Food Network star, who recently launched a new line of BBQ sauces, can be found “in the kitchen making all the sides for our big potluck.”
The author of The Pioneer Woman Cooks series “thinks about bulk, and what can I make in big foil pans.” She’ll serve a classic, like baked beans, but also favors a caprese salad, “because we always wind up with heavy sides and I like having the freshness and the basil flavor.”
Speaking of sides, Ree also recommends “a really good potato salad, because potato salad can be pretty boring and run of the mill, so I think it has to be very delicious.”
While the TV personality has the sides covered, Ladd’s grilling expertise mean he’s the one who tackles the hamburgers and steaks. The Oklahoma native reveals her husband “takes a big fireproof sauce pan, puts it on the grill, fills it with about ten sticks of butter and just brushes butter on the steaks and burgers,” which have been flavored with lemon pepper and seasoned salt.
Ree promises there’s always enough food for all of her guests, but part of why the culinary expert has Ladd cook the meat is because, “at the very least everyone will get a steak or burger. One year, we did wind up with about seven pans of ribs, one salad and about 19 desserts.”
Despite the risk of having a potluck that’s heavy on cobblers and light on salads, Ree doesn’t feel compelled to curate who’s bringing what. Instead, she swears “the secret to a successful summer potluck is not to orchestrate.”
Looking for something tasty to bring to a potluck of your own? Check out Ree’s not boring, not run-of-the-mill, brand new pepperoni potato salad recipe below!
Pepperoni Potato Salad
Makes 10-12 servings
• 4 lbs baby Yukon gold potatoes
• 2 tbsps kosher salt
• 1 cup real mayonnaise
• 3/4 cup marinara sauce
• 1/4 cup ground Parmesan cheese
• 8 whole green onions, green and white parts
• 7 oz pepperoni, quartered
• 2 cups pitted green olives, halved
• 24 oz mozzarella pearls, drained and divided
• 1/2 cup parsley, chopped and divided
• 1/2 cup basil, chiffonade
• 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- Put the potatoes in a pot with cold water and add two tablespoons of salt. Cover, bring to a boil and cook until fork-tender, 10-15 minutes. Drain, cut the potatoes in half and transfer to a bowl.
- For the dressing, mix together the mayonnaise, marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese.
- Pour the dressing over the potatoes, add the green onions and stir.
- Fold in the pepperoni, olives, mozzarella pearls, 3/4 of the chopped parsley, the basil and the pepper. Garnish with the remaining parsley and serve.
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