Fourth of July Fare: Slow-Cooked Ribs and Stone Fruit Salad

At the Butcher's Table, chef Morgan Mueller embraces summer with beef ribs and prosciutto-topped peaches; we pick 18 Syrahs and sparklers to pair

Fourth of July Fare: Slow-Cooked Ribs and Stone Fruit Salad
These tender, slow-cooked ribs start in the oven and finish on the grill. (Courtesy of the Butcher’s Table)
Jun 21, 2019

Chef Morgan Mueller's early foray into food began during childhood summers spent in Napa. He'd gather fruit from his grandmother's trees and vegetables from her garden for future meals.

"As a child, it was a chore to go pick green beans every day, but looking back on it, [those] were some of the best summers I ever had," says Mueller. "It wasn't until I was older that I looked back and really appreciated how much love and care she put into her cooking. I think that had a big influence on me."

Now, the chef at the Butcher's Table, a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner in Seattle, couldn’t imagine a life—or career—without being mindful of where ingredients are sourced. "I feel much better if I go to the farmers market or if I'm out in the garden," he says. "I feel disconnected if I don't still do that stuff."

This attitude is put fully into practice at the Butcher's Table. The modern steak house works with local farmers and foragers to source ingredients, such as oysters harvested from nearby Puget Sound. "We very much try and speak to our terroir—where we are in the world," says Mueller.

Another goal at the restaurant is to cook with the seasons; Fourth of July dining is no exception. For this holiday that represents summer in full swing, Mueller knows exactly what to put on the menu: a salad that spotlights stone fruit—nectarines, cherries, apricots, peaches, plums, even mangoes—during their peak.

"In the summertime, [the farmers markets] have lots of samples out of their stone fruit; you can kind of taste your way through them and look for [the best] ones," says Mueller. "Be open-minded to picking whatever is going to have some nice acidity."

To balance out the sweet fruit, Mueller adds toasted pistachios, prosciutto and the sharp, nutty Beecher's Flagship Reserve clothbound cheddar. If you don't have access to this specialty cheese, any aged cheddar or gruyère-style cheese that will provide some salinity against the stone fruit will work, he says.

The beauty of this salad is its simplicity. "It's very easy to prepare if you're going to a party or gathering," says Mueller. "You don't have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen."

Another dish that screams summer is ribs on the grill. For his recipe for slow-cooked ribs that are started in the oven, Mueller goes with beef, but pork ribs could also be substituted.

"For the ribs, the most important thing is to do the work the night before," he says. "We clean the ribs the night before, we season the ribs the night before, and we even go as far as wrapping them in tinfoil the night before. And then that way, when you wake up in the morning, you can just turn your oven on and pop them in. You don't have to really do a whole lot of fussing the day of your event."

The variety in courses means you can have some fun with wine pairings throughout the meal. With so many flavors happening in the stone fruit salad, Jason Sanneman, wine director at the Butcher's Table, turns to Champagne as a safe bet, opting for the Ruinart Brut Blanc de Blanc NV.

The Ruinart "brings a fruity and playful nose with notes of ripe citrus, white peach and white flowers," says Sanneman. "The bright and fresh palate accentuates the salty prosciutto and pistachios and brings the bitter radicchio into an elegant balance."

The pairing for the ribs is a no-brainer. "Beef and Northern Rhône Syrah is, by my estimation, one of the most natural pairings there is," Sanneman says, going with the 2011 Christophe Semaska St.-Joseph.

Though this classic presentation of St.-Joseph "shows a juicy fruity side in its youth," with a little age, "you get to see the wine develop its gamy side," says Sanneman. "The ample acidity and rich tannins will work nicely to balance the fatty beef ribs."

Below, Wine Spectator recommends similar Northern Rhône Syrahs for the ribs and a range of sparkling wine styles to accentuate different aspects of the salad, from traditional brut Champagnes and blancs de blancs to alternatives like high quality Prosecco, crémant and even red and rosé Lambruscos, with their juicy cherry flavors. Since rosé and summer are a natural match, Sanneman also recommends a 2017 Matthiasson rosé from Napa Valley as an alternative pairing for the salad.

Fourth of July presents a good excuse to show a little hometown pride. Make use of local ingredients during summertime's bounty and, like it did for chef Mueller, an annual ritual could become a lifelong habit.

Stone Fruit Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette

stone fruit salad
Courtesy of the Butcher’s Table
Peaches, nectarines, plums or any other stone fruit with nice acidity will work for this dish.


For the Sherry vinaigrette:

  • 1/8 cup Sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

  • 6 ripe peaches or nectarines (or whatever stone fruit you can find at the market), cut into slices and small chunks
  • 6 radicchio leaves, cleaned and cut into 2-inch slices
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 slices prosciutto
  • 3 ounces Beecher's Flagship Reserve cheese (or any aged cheddar), rind removed and cut into 1/8-inch slices
  • 1/8 cup pistachios, toasted
  • 4 mint leaves


1. For the Sherry vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously. Set aside.

2. In a medium-size bowl, toss the stone fruit, radicchio, salt and pepper with one-third of the Sherry vinaigrette.

3. Spread the salad out on a large platter and garnish with prosciutto, cheese, pistachios and mint.

4. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette on top of the finished salad as desired. Serves 4

Slow-Cooked Beef Ribs with Rosemary Citrus Glaze


  • 7 to 8 pounds beef back ribs (about 1 rack)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons Butcher’s Table All-Purpose Seasoning Blend
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 lemon, sliced in 1/8-inch wheels
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


1. Mix the salt, seasoning blend, fennel seeds, black pepper and cayenne in a small bowl.

2. Remove the membrane found on the underside of the ribs before seasoning and rub the spice mixture all over the back ribs. Wrap the ribs in tinfoil or plastic wrap and store them in refrigerator for at least 24 hours.

3. Once the ribs are finished marinating and ready to be cooked, preheat the oven to 275˚ F.

4. Wrap the ribs in two sheets of aluminum foil with the rosemary and lemon slices on top. Place them on a baking sheet and roast for 4 1/2 hours or until the meat feels tender but does not fall off the bone.

5. Transfer all the drippings (about 1/2 cup) from the foil wrap into a small bowl. As the drippings sit, the fat will settle on the surface. Skim 80% of the fat from the drippings with a spoon.

6. For the glaze: Whisk balsamic vinegar into remaining drippings (about 2 tablespoons).

7. To finish ribs: Heat grill to medium-high, liberally apply glaze, and grill for about 5 to 6 minutes. Add more glaze as desired. Serves about 4, dependig on appetite.

10 Sparkling Wines

Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More options can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.


Lambrusco dell'Emilia Picol Ross 2017

Score: 91 | $18

WS review: This vinous Lambrusco is lovely, with a pure beam of black cherry flavor and accents of woodsy spice, creamy melted licorice and fresh, loamy earth riding the finely detailed bead. Well-knit and vibrant, with a long, aromatic finish. Drink now through 2023. 1,700 cases made, 150 cases imported. From Italy.—Alison Napjus


Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Ius Naturae 2017

Score: 90 | $28

WS review: An elegant Prosecco, creamy in texture and framed by sleek acidity, this offers a well-meshed range of poached pear, spring blossom, mandarin orange peel and wet stone flavors. Drink now through 2022. 1,250 cases made, 65 cases imported. From Italy.—A.N.


Extra Dry Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore NV

Score: 89 | $23

WS review: A bright, mouthwatering Prosecco, with a creamy bead and a lively mix of creamed pear, grated ginger, honeysuckle and lemon pith flavors, showing a lingering finish of stone and spice detail. Drink now. 17,000 cases made, 700 cases imported. From Italy.—A.N.


Brut Rosé Lambrusco di Sorbara Reny NV

Score: 88 | $29

WS review: High-toned, with almond blossom and spice aromas, this garnet-hued Lambrusco features flavors of black cherry, yogurt, graphite, pomegranate and lemon biscotti. Lively, with a satiny mousse. Drink now through 2020. 3,250 cases made, 300 cases imported. From Italy.—A.N.


Brut Crémant de Loire Excellence 2016

Score: 88 | $20

WS review: Fresh and open in feel, with breezy peach, pear and green apple flavors, backed by a flash of white ginger on the finish. Stays generous through the finish. Drink now. 200,000 cases made, 1,300 cases imported. From France.—James Molesworth


Brut Blanc de Blancs Lessini Durello 2016

Score: 88 | $21

WS review: A smoky base note and rich hints of lemon curd and pastry are layered with poached apricot and candied ginger flavors in this firm and well-knit sparkler. Drink now. 17,000 cases made, 1,200 cases imported. From Italy.—A.N.


Brut Champagne Prestige NV

Score: 88 | $33

WS review: Open-knit and fresh, with a smoky undertow and flavors of Honeycrisp apple, black currant, spring blossom and lemon pith set on a lively bead. Disgorged April 2018. Drink now. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. 1,084 cases imported. From France.—A.N.


Brut Champagne Originel NV

Score: 88 | $30

WS review: This fresh and open-knit Champagne is lightly chalky in texture, with honeysuckle, clementine and biscuit notes backed by zesty acidity. Moderate finish. Drink now. 8,300 cases made, 1,500 cases imported. From France.—A.N.


Brut Crémant d'Alsace Cuvée Prestige NV

Score: 88 | $25

WS review: The lively bead and zesty acidity of this crisp sparkler enliven the creamy mix of green melon, lemon pith and slivered almond. Hints of petrol and spice show on the finish. Disgorged March 2018. Drink now. 8,000 cases made, 200 cases imported. From France.—A.N.


Brut Champagne Cuvée du Fondateur NV

Score: 88 | $35

WS review: A mouthwatering Champagne, with a lacy mousse and a lively mix of Honeycrisp apple, nectarine, Marcona almond and chalk flavors. Subtle finish. Drink now. 20,000 cases made, 1,000 cases imported. From France.—A.N.

8 Northern Rhône Wines

Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More options can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.


St.-Joseph 2015

Score: 93 | $31

WS review: This sports a bit of old-school funk, with dark tobacco, chestnut and beef notes mixed in with dense black currant and warm fig paste flavors. The finish is awash in tobacco, juniper and iron accents. This will need some time. Best from 2021 through 2030. 1,500 cases made, 250 cases imported.—James Molesworth


Crozes-Hermitage 2016

Score: 92 | $35

WS review: Solidly built, with mocha and anise notes framing a core of blackberry and plum paste flavors. A good graphite edge through the finish adds a little oomph. Drink now through 2022. 1,000 cases made, 266 cases imported.—J.M.


Crozes-Hermitage Mise en Bouche 2016

Score: 91 | $29

WS review: A very fresh, pure style, with a beam of cherry, violet and white pepper notes that sails through completely unencumbered by toast. Drink now through 2019. 3,760 cases made, 600 cases imported.—J.M.


Crozes-Hermitage La Matinière 2016

Score: 91 | $24

WS review: This is suave, with gently mulled plum and blackberry fruit inlaid with warm anise, smoldering black tea and sanguine hints. The modestly plush finish lets the details shine. Drink now through 2022. 7,500 cases made, 2,000 cases imported.—J.M.


Crozes-Hermitage Domaine des Remizières 2017

Score: 90 | $25

WS review: A bright, racy style, with a beam of violet-infused cassis and cherry fruit flavors laced with a subtle chalky spine. Offers a deliciously unencumbered finish. Drink now through 2020. 2,500 cases made, 400 cases imported.—J.M.


Crozes-Hermitage Domaine des Lises 2016

Score: 90 | $30

WS review: Lively, with a bouncy mix of raspberry and plum fruit laced with a singed apple wood note. Reveals a briary hint through the finish. Drink now through 2020. 2,400 cases made, 600 cases imported.—J.M.


Crozes-Hermitage 2017

Score: 90 | $33

WS review: Features a smoky edge, with notes of crushed plum and blackberry fruit. Shows a light alder hint through the finish. Drink now through 2022. 2,900 cases made, 1,000 cases imported.—J.M.


Crozes-Hermitage 2016

Score: 90 | $26

WS review: Fresh and defined, with a core of ripe loganberry and lingonberry flavors carried by anise and bramble notes. Shows good energy through the finish. Drink now through 2021. 5,833 cases made, 400 cases imported.—J.M.

Recipes Cooking Holidays / Celebrations Red Wines Sparkling Wines Steak/Beef Independence Day Syrah / Shiraz Champagne Northern Rhône

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