Juneteenth Cookout 2022: Celebrating Black Cookbook Authors

Join me in celebrating Juneteenth with 18 other Black culinary creators. This year, we are honoring 19 Black American cookbook authors by recreating their recipes, amplifying their work, and sharing our connections to Freedom Day. Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day, the final emancipation of those enslaved in the US announced in 1865. Share these recipes with your family and help us continue the legacy of celebrating progress. Additionally, you can easily follow each participant by using the hashtag #JuneteenthCookout2022 on Instagram.

This collaboration is brought to you by Eat the Culture.

Chef Kwame Onwuachi’s Cookbook – My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef

Chef Kwame Onwuachi is an accomplished, James Beard Award-winning chef and restaurant owner. You may know him from the show Top Chef, which he now guest judges in. He also serves as an executive producer for Food & Wine.

Thanks to Eat the Culture and publisher A.A. Knopf, I received a copy of Chef Kwame Onwuachi’s recently released debut cookbook. If you’re looking for a liberating, educational, and beautifully written cookbook, this needs to be in your culinary arsenal. My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef has a fantastic collection of recipes that represent the African Diaspora. It is also a thoughtful tribute to the his family.

In a world where quick meals are a norm, I feel like Chef Onwuachi inspires home cooks to slow down and prepare hearty, soulful dishes. African and Caribbean traditions influence the recipes he curates. This book and the Juneteenth holiday have led me to reflect on the beautifully diverse foods of our culture. I also thought deeply about my cooking traditions, family roots, and how it is ever evolving as time passes.

While reading, I connected with many of the chef’s food-related memories. For example, I, too, can remember the wonderfully flavorful foods that awaited the congregation after church services. When he spoke of this, I pictured my 12-year-old self in the fellowship hall at Mt. Vernon Baptist. I could see and smell the cooking chicken, mixed greens, and fresh rolls (to name a few). I also reminisced about playing outside with friends as the churchmen led the whole hog cookout in the summer Kentucky heat – some of my favorite days. 

Dancing images of beef patties tucked into pillows of Coco Bread got me through endless church services on Sundays because I knew what awaited me, a divine reward.

Kwame Onwuachi, My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef (2022)

One of my favorite qualities about My America is the education centered around the recipes. Each recipe includes its origin and a much-deserved nod to the cooking adaptations made by our ancestors. They were able to survive and enhance foods in ever-changing circumstances.

Also, I truly enjoy the ‘Pantry’ section of the cookbook. Here Chef Onwuachi teaches us to make flavorful homemade spices and sauces like Jamaican Jerk Paste, Peppa Sauce, and Suya Spice . These flavorful pantry items are woven throughout recipes in the cookbook. Let me tell you, the ones I’ve made so far are incredibly flavorful and versatile! I have already used the Garlic Ginger Paste several times as I’ve cooked this past week.

Jamaican Beef Patties

For this Juneteenth cookout, I chose to make the Jamaican Beef Patty recipe found in My America. I highly recommend making these for your cookout! A spicy ground beef mixture fills the golden pastries. The depth of flavors in this dish is incredible, thanks to a beautiful combination of techniques influenced by Africa and East India. For example, I made homemade Jamaican curry powder for the first time (another recipe in the book). The curry powder is added to the ground beef as it browns.

I found myself smiling as I rolled out the pastry dough. I have special memories of watching my grandmothers and great aunts make different types of dough in the kitchen. Because I don’t have a pastry cutter, I used a glass to cut out my circles just as they would have when making biscuits.

Love Letter

To Chef Kwame Onwuachi:

I am humbled to have your collection of recipes in my home. Congrats on becoming a cookbook author and all of your success in the culinary world. Your story is beautiful, and I have always enjoyed following your work. You continuously encourage people to celebrate their legacy and be their authentic selves. We have so much to learn from you in the kitchen and life. Because of you, I will take deeper dives into my own food experiences and develop my own unique dishes. Thank you!

All in All

My America will give you great food options for Juneteenth and beyond. Making these Jamaican Beef Patties are well worth the effort. They are delicious and very flavorful.

Link to purchase book on Amazon (not an affiliate)

Be sure to check out these AMAZING Black culinary creators and the cookbooks they are amplifying:

I hope you all have a peaceful and enjoyable holiday!