Father's Day is this Sunday and you can't decide what to do for the old guy, right? Well, the answer to your dilemma is quite simple: Gather the family together and cook for him. Figure out a good menu, keeping in mind his favorites, assign a recipe to everyone -- yes, even the kids can make something simple -- and then enjoy the special occasion as a family, with everyone's finger in the pie.
The menu just might be the hardest part, but this is a summer-time holiday, so the grill is a very good option to keep in mind. If dad is a barbecue lover, why not go for gold and make ribs? It is really quite simple. It is also the time when fresh vegetables are beginning to hit the farmers markets, so there's another option that could work quite well. A nice salad of some sort would be good, and nothing beats a spicy potato salad. Add a desert from a local bakery, a loaf or two of crusty bread and some cold drinks, and you are in business.
Let's start with a few thoughts on barbecued ribs. Yes, there is such a person as a pit master, and it does take nearly a lifetime of experience to get it to the competition level, but there are many simple recipes that can be made in the home with a barbecue grill -- or without -- that your family will rave about. Put that worry out of your mind.
Something that will make up for inexperience on a hot grill is a very good barbecue sauce. There are three basic types of sauce: vinegar based, tomato and mustard, but some compromises can be made.
The barbecue sauce recipe below will not win you any awards at Memphis in May, but it is pretty darn good. Give it a try.
Soup may not be your normal way of starting a meal, especially in the summer, but this one is light and refreshing. It also can be served cold, like a Spanish gazpacho. Garnish with some fresh herbs and it will be delightful.
FRESH SQUASH SOUP
3 to 4 medium size yellow squash
2 to 3 cloves garlic
1 to 2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup cream
2 to 3 tablespoons rough chopped basil
Salt and pepper
Butter as needed
Chop the tough ends off
the squash off and then cut into rough cubes. Add a little butter to a sauté pan over medium heat, add the squash and season with the salt and pepper. A pinch or two of red pepper flakes would be OK, too. Sauté for a minute or two and then add the garlic. Continue cooking until the squash are tender.
Place the cooked squash, 1 cup of chicken stock and the cream in a blender and blend smooth. Taste and re-season as necessary and check for consistency. If it's too thick, add more of the chicken stock. If it's a bit chunky, put it through a sieve.
1 bottle prepared hickory smoked barbecue sauce
1/2 cup sorghum molasses
1/3 cup good bourbon whiskey
1 to 2 pinches red pepper flakes
Place all of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Whisk until it is incorporated.
Taste and re-season as necessary.
The best way to cook these ribs is with a stovetop smoker.
RIBS AND GREENS
1 rack pork ribs
Freshly ground black pepper
Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
2 cans beer
Hickory and/or pecan wood chips
Cut the rack into pieces so that it fits into the smoker. Season them aggressively and then give them a good rub.
Put the wood chips in the bottom of the smoker, place on the stove and turn it on low.
When the chips start to smoke, add the tray with the ribs and close up tight. Smoke for 45 minutes, then carefully remove the tray with the ribs and discard the burnt wood chips. Wash the tray out as well.
Pour the beer into the smoker, add the tray with the ribs and seal up tight. Steam over low heat for about 45 minutes, or until fork tender. Check every once in a while to be sure you do not need to add more beer and to check the tenderness of the ribs.
When the ribs are done, remove them but save the left over beer for the greens.
1 bunch greens
2 to 3 cloves garlic
Red pepper flakes
Olive oil as needed
Left over beer from ribs
1 cup chicken stock
Rib ends and bones
Rice vinegar (optional)
Wash and stem the greens. Add a little oil to a deep stock pot, add the garlic and season with lots of red pepper.
Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the greens a handful at a time, turning so they are seasoned with the garlic and oil. Add the left over beer and 2/3 cup of chicken stock, along with the end pieces of the ribs and any bones than have come loose.
If you are a vinegar fan, add 1/2 cup along with the stock.
Cover and gently simmer until the greens are tender. If you want very flavorful greens, remove the ribs from being steamed 15 minutes early and add them to the greens.
The ribs will fall apart in the greens and will be delicious.
SPICY POTATO SALAD
2 pounds red potatoes, cut into large cubes
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 chopped jalapeño
1/4 cup diced, crispy fried bacon
1/2 cup best quality mayo
Salt and pepper
Place the diced, cooked potatoes in a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients and toss carefully. Be careful not to break up the potatoes. Taste and re-season as necessary. Refrigerate before serving. Vary the amount of hot sauce to suit your taste.