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More make-ahead favorites for the 4th

Here's a few more suggestions for dishes for your Fourth of July menu that can be made a day ahead.

Chicken thighs with poblano peppers and cilantro can be shredded for a piquant taco filling:

Cilantro chicken
   
    4 to 5 pounds
bone-in chicken thighs
    1 1/2 cup chopped
cilantro, leaves and stems
    1 bunch scallions, cleaned and chopped

    2 poblano peppers, seeded and sliced
   
10-12 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
    1 tablespoon cumin seed
    2
tablespoons vegetable oil, lard or bacon fat
    2 limes, halved (optional)

    2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
    Salt
    Water
   

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Skin chicken
thighs and salt liberally.
    Heat fat in large pan over high heat. Brown
chicken thighs, in batches.
    In another small
pan, toast cumin seed over medium heat, shaking frequently, until golden brown
and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
    Put half the cilantro in
the bottom of a baking dish, like a 9 by 13 pan. Arrange the browned thighs in a
single layer. Shower with remaining cilantro, garlic, poblanos and cumin seed.

    Add water up to four-fifths the height of the chicken pieces. Cover pan with foil and place in oven.
Braise until quite tender, 2 to 3 hours.
    Taste and apply salt as needed.
If using, squeeze limes over pan. A few tablespoons of cream stirred into the
pan juices wouldn't hurt, either.
    Serve over rice, pasta or potatoes
with pan juices.

Mexican rice makes a classic side dish that tastes even better the day after it's prepared:

Mexican rice

    1
1/2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
    1 1/2 cups medium-grain white
rice
    1 cup bottled tomato salsa
    1 cup
chicken broth
    1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
    Salt
    1
1/2 cups frozen peas

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In an ovenproof
pot with lid, heat oil over medium heat. Add rice and
stir frequently until the grains of rice turn from
translucent to milky white. Don't worry if some brown.
    Add salsa,
chicken broth and about 1/2 teaspoon salt, depending on how salty the broth and
salsa are. Stir, and let the mixture come to a boil.
    Put lid on pot and
set in middle of the oven. Bake 20 minutes. Uncover, add peas and half the
cilantro, if using. Re-cover pot, and return to oven. After 5 minutes, remove
from oven again and let stand 5 minutes.
    Fluff the rice with a fork, mixing in the peas and cilantro, if using,
and serve. 

Made without mayonnaise, this zippy cole slaw adds crunch and color to any plate:

Mayo-free cole slaw
   

    1 small head green cabbage, shredded or sliced thin, about 6 cups

    2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
    2/3 cup sugar
    2 teaspoons
salt
    1 cup thinly sliced bell peppers
    1/4 cup thinly sliced
jalapeno peppers (optional)
    1/4 cup chopped pickled jalapenos (optional)

    2 teaspoons dried dill weed, or 4 teaspoons fresh chopped
   

    Put all ingredients except cabbage and peppers in a large bowl, and
whisk until sugar dissolves.
    Add cabbage and peppers, and toss to
combine well. Toss every 15 minutes as water emerges from the vegetables.

    After an hour, it's ready to serve.

Mac and cheese reheats well, and Ultimate Tailgating Mac and Cheese can almost be a supper by itself:

Ultimate Tailgating Mac and Cheese
   
    3 pounds elbow macaroni,
cooked al dente
    2 pound loaf Velveeta
   
Meat from 1 chicken, in bite-sized pieces
    4 cups chopped onion
    8
ounces blue cheese
    4 ounces (1 stick) butter
    2 cups milk
   
1/2 cup cayenne pepper hot sauce, like Frank's
    1 pound sharp cheddar,
shredded
    2 cups celery, sliced thin
    1 cup plain yogurt
   

    Cook macaroni al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.
Skin chicken and strip meat, tearing it into bite-sized chunks.
    In large
pot, melt butter. When foaming stops, add onions. Cook over high heat, stirring
frequently, until translucent and browning, 10 to 15 minutes. Do not allow to
burn.
    Add hot sauce, stirring until sauce evaporates into onions, about
5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium.
    Add milk, yogurt and Velveeta torn in chunks. Stir steadily as Velveeta melts into liquid. (Do not allow to boil, or it
will burn on the bottom of the pot.)
    Set oven to 500 degrees. Spread
cooked macaroni in standard half-sheet sized foil catering pan. Scatter celery
and chicken over the macaroni, and crush blue cheese to spread across the
mixture. Add cheese sauce and stir to combine everything evenly. Smooth out the
mixture.
    Top with shredded cheddar and place pan in preheated oven. Bake
until brown and bubbly, 20 to 30 minutes. Can be covered with heavy foil and
kept warm in a cooler, stuffed with crumpled newspaper as insulation, for up to
four hours.

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