Juneteenth is a holiday to commemorate the emancipation of the last enslaved people in Texas in 1865. Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed. That’s right, though President Lincoln had freed enslaved Africans two years prior in 1863. It wasn’t until 1865 that the last chains of chattel slavery had been broken. To honor the holiday, its origins, and celebrate the continued press toward freedom for Black people in America; I partnered with food and culture writer, Ryan Shepard, to bring some joy in the midst of a great deal of pain. Together with a some notable food influencers we created the #CookingForFreedom digital cookout menu! Jump into the post to see all the recipes that were shared plus my famous smoky deviled egg recipe. Let’s celebrate!
Black history is American history. Which is why it’s quite disheartening to know that many Americans had little or no knowledge about Juneteenth. What a tragedy it is that only bits and pieces of this country’s story has told to its people. It may seem to some that the plight of Black Americans hasn’t been all bad, but the truth is Black people have endured turmoil for years. As we continue to see the unfurling of America’s racist quilt, many are finally seeing behind the propaganda and supposed patriotism is a dark turbulent history. Yet in spite of that Black people, since 1619, have continued to overcome. Creating traditions, moving culture forward, and managing to succeed in the face of severe degradation.
And yet, I would never choose to be anything but Black…
The joy of Blackness has and will always be my most treasured characteristic. Which is why I want to share one way many Black folks find and express their joy. In the kitchen! When Ryan mentioned wanting to gather some influential people to celebrate Juneteenth, I was all aboard the train. Thankfully those who we asked, agreed. Angela of TheKitchenistaDiaries, Jocelyn Delk-Adams of Grand Baby Cakes, my partner Seth Brundle of Butter + BROWN, Actor and Chef Jake Smollett, the duo from Ode to Babel, and DJ Lucci who came through with a playlist to round out the party. This phenomenal group of people enthusiastically decided to send in their recipes and I must say this menu turned out great!
While my backyard has been quiet in the absence of our usual weekend cookouts, I’ve received many requests from friends for my famous deviled eggs. A staple on the table at any backyard function this recipe is smoky, rich, and reminiscent of BBQs past. As a kid I loved egg salad sandwiches, my deviled eggs are the grown up version of that. There have been iterations where bacon is involved, sometimes there’s a hint of brininess from pickle juice, and they have been known to get spicy as well. I’m sharing the most common version that can be found on my table. I promise after you make them once – it’ll be the same at your house.
I love to serve my deviled eggs on a acacia or bamboo butcher block. It makes it easy for eaters to get their fill while ensuring they don’t graze the other eggs in the process. But let’s be honest it looks pretty. I’ve tagged a few options for you below. Another thing about deviled eggs is that they can be made in large or small quantities easily. Simply adjusting the recipe a bit you can make these for yourself as a snack or a full blown appetizer for any soiree.
As Juneteenth comes and goes this year, keep learning about the true history of America. If there is a blind spot do your best to address it and learn, that is the best way to grow. We’ve all got a bit more time on our hands these days and too much technology to still be content in our ignorance. I hope you enjoy this menu and you return to it time and time again all summer for a meal you won’t forget.