Critically-acclaimed chef Bobby Flay once said that he loved grilling outside with his parents at the Jersey shore. They would grill lobster and corn in the summer. I’m no celebrity chef and there’s little chance of me owning one restaurant, much less as many as Bobby Flay owns, but I can fire up the grill as well as the next backyard barbecue enthusiast, even my dad.
Last year for Father’s Day the weather forecast predicted a gorgeous day, so our family planned a picnic for dad in the backyard. The grandkids strung a homemade banner between two trees in the yard that said “HAPPY FATHER’S DAY” and we had music from dad’s favorite artists playing the whole afternoon. It was such a success that we’re hoping to do the same again this year! Here are some recipe ideas we tried last year, and others that we’ve considered for future holidays.
Burgers and Dogs
This was what we did last year, but we didn’t stop at plain old hot dogs and hamburgers. Sure, we left some unadorned for picky eaters but most of our family is adventurous and real grilled-food aficionados. In addition to the staples, we had other foods that could be served on hot dog and hamburger buns, such as Polish sausages, bratwursts, buffalo burgers, and breaded chicken patties. We also had creative toppings like flavored mustards and ketchups, jalapenos, ham, pineapple, and barbecue sauce.
We also grilled a variety of garden-fresh vegetables from our local farmers’ market last year. After spraying the inside of a foil bag with non-stick coating, we tossed in some peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, onion, and cherry tomatoes. Additionally, we wrapped corn on the cob in foil and grilled it as well, which was a hit with family members of all ages. If you’ve never had grilled veggies, then I for one highly recommend it. They’re both delicious and healthy.
The vegetables were such a hit last year that we’re doing them again this year, but in the form of kebabs. Instead of preparing them ahead of time, everyone is arriving in time to make their own. We’re using a pack of non-toxic markers to dot the end of each wooden skewer to tell which one belongs to what person. I overheard my dad telling one of his business partners that he’s really looking forward to Father’s Day because of all the fun he had last year, and especially because he loves the idea of the shish kebabs.
Grilled pizzas are on our list for a future Father’s Day backyard barbecue. The heat from the grill cooks the pizza with the same effect that you’d find in an upscale restaurant that features a brick oven. The crust is just crisp enough and unlike a microwave (or even a standard oven built into the kitchen stove) the grill heats the layers of ingredients both evenly and thoroughly.
Surf and Turf
This is another great idea for a Father’s Day meal cooked on the grill, especially if your budget is generous. Because the main entrée is so filling, you can get by with serving it with something light like a salad and bread or a dish of angel hair pasta drizzled with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh herbs, freshly grated cheese, and grape tomatoes. The extra effort in preparing the meal and serving it will lend all the expensive restaurant qualities to a meal that is custom tailored to your dad’s palate.
Grilled chicken is wonderful, and if you’re not planning to put any kind of barbecue or other sauce on it, then consider trying something a little more exotic. My father personally doesn’t care for anything on his plate from the fruit food group to touch anything from the meat food group. However, my father-in-law loves teriyaki chicken and never fails to request a grilled pineapple slice to go on top. Chicken is one of the easiest meals to be creative with, and the results can prove really mouth-watering.
A few years ago we attended Father’s Day at my uncle’s house because it fell on the same weekend that my cousin graduated from college. Their family saw no point in holding two separate celebrations and invited all their friends and family to one huge party. The highlight of all the foods served was the pig roasting in the back yard. My uncle hired a company to come in and roast it on-site and dad and I agreed that unlike other places that serve pork barbecue, this was truly mouth-watering. If you’re planning a really huge party and have the means to hold a pig roast, it’s something your guests – and more importantly, your dad – will be talking about for years to come.
The only thing my dad likes better than pan-seared salmon is when it’s grilled with a sprinkling of lemon and some freshly minced garlic. Because salmon can be pricey, if you’re on a strict budget then look for deals throughout the months beforehand. Buy up several pieces, keeping them in the freezer until closer to Father’s Day and then taking them out to thaw the night before.
Have you ever tried grilling your own Panini sandwich? Or tried grilling a steak and cheese? If your grill lacks a flat surface, use a cast iron griddle directly on the grill rack to multiply the amount of culinary delights you can cook for dad this Father’s Day. Use caution as the griddle will be VERY hot, and afterward you might want to hose it off using your grill cleaning tools to perform an initial scrubbing before putting it in the dishwasher. The black cast iron makes it difficult to see smoke that builds up on the underside of the pan.
This one is a breeze, and something my dad really enjoys – especially if we’re watching the ball game on the big screen television in his man cave. It’s the one time during the year that he concedes to allow females into the “Den of All Things Manly”. (It’s fairly terrific as far as man caves go – when he was decorating, www.menshideaway.com was as source of all kinds of inspiration to him.) Just put the nachos in a foil pie pan and add any toppings that you’d use when heating them in the oven. The charcoal grill adds a unique flavor to the traditional snack.
One year a storm knocked out power all over town, which meant our family was unable to take dad on his traditional Father’s Day pancake breakfast. Lack of power meant we couldn’t cook it at home, either. Fortunately we could improvise using a cast iron griddle and our backyard grill. We made pancakes, sausage, fried eggs, and even managed to heat water for coffee. Without the distractions of television, computers, and video games, it really was a Father’s Day to remember.
This is one of my family’s favorites, and it began a few years ago. Unwilling to call it a day after dinnertime, we pulled out the ingredients for S’mores and headed into the backyard where we used the grill to make the delicious treats. If you’ve never made them, it’s so easy! Just roast a marshmallow like normal and then sandwich it between two graham cracker squares and some chocolate. One family member likes using chocolate frosting instead of chocolate candy, and another uses peanut butter instead of chocolate due to food allergies. But my dad’s favorites are the S’mores that have both chocolate and peanut butter.
Grilling out with your family is a great way to celebrate dad at Father’s Day. Best of all – nobody has any messy pots and pans to clean up as with cooking a traditional stovetop meal. Because aluminum foil is biodegradable, it’s better for the environment than plastic containers and packages. When you grill, be sure to use proper food safety measures, like cooking meat at the proper temperatures and using an oven mitt to keep from burning your hands on the hot surface of the grill itself. Finishing up the meal with a trip to the emergency room is one Father’s Day memory that everyone can do without!
About the Author
Becky Muth is a freelance author who enjoys all the benefits of working from an office inside her home. It not only allows her the freedom to spend time with her human family, but also with her beloved golden retriever. Having recently completed a series of articles about using vintage items to decorate a man cave, her husband and sons were pleasantly surprised when she surprised them with a retro Coca-Cola machine for their own “No Girls Allowed” space. When she isn’t working or spending time with her family, Becky enjoys knitting, reading, and visiting museums.