Next Up – Father’s Day

One more week and counting. This year, Father’s Day with dear old Dad is going to be celebrated on Saturday. Dad’s not getting about as he once did and doesn’t venture far from the family farm. Seems that whenever we get together for a family feed, Dad brings up how much he likes barbecued ribs. He says one of the things he misses are the “old days” when he could spend hours cooking up his barbecue ribs. (Hint hint). Dad can’t stand for very long without becoming dizzy (a very bad thing while bent over a bed of hot coals), and it’s just too hard to try grilling from his chair.The Farm This wonderful man has reached that reversed point in life when we need to show him the same loving care he has shown us our entire lives. Besides, giving back even a small portion of what he has done for me fills me with such joy, words cannot express the warmth I feel inside.

Hubby has been talking about different outings for Father’s Day – the Pirate Festival in the bay (complete with dueling ships), the Crawdad Festival along the river, hiking in the woods – anything to get out and away from the grind of every day and relax. That also means escaping from barbecue duty on Father’s Day. (Hint-hint). There was only one thing to do – and that was to please them both. Barbecue at the farm on Saturday, spending Sunday any way Hubby would like. After all, it’s his day, too. By splitting the weekend with a duel celebration everyone is happy.

Kiddo, Hubby and I have been mulling over the menu for our Saturday Father’s Day Barbecue. My guys are great at helping me to keep it simple. Oh sure, they will go along with whatever crazy menu I can conjure up (a great example was My Birthday Feast From Italy and what a wonderful birthday! There is no way I could have pulled it off without their wonderful helping hands). They have reminded me ever so gently that I needed to think about Dad – what he would like. That we would be doing the majority of the prep work and cooking at home, with the final touches at the farm and above all else, the food needed to travel well. At last, the menu was settled – time to share.

Father’s Day Barbecue
– From the Grill –
Oven-Grilled Smoky Barbecued Ribs

– On the Side –
Corn on the Cob
Hobo Skillet Potatoes
Texas-Style Ranch Beans

– Gotta Have Sweets –
Pudding Filled Cupcakes with Italian Meringue Butter Cream Frosting


While this recipe is designed to do at home, the ribs can go from the oven to a big foil pan for transportation. Just imagine skipping the hot dogs at your next picnic and serving up some grilled ribs at the park. Once grilled, simply move back into the foil pan for serving.

Oven-Grilled Smoky Barbecued Ribs
The Rub
2 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoons Hickory Smoked Salt
1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
2 Teaspoons Smoked Paprika
2 Teaspoons Mustard Powder
2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder

In a bowl, mix ingredients for dry rub, set aside until ready to use.

The Ribs
3 or 4 lbs Baby-Back Pork Ribs
Water as needed
2 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke
1 Onion
4 Cups Barbecue Sauce (your favorite)

Trim excess fat from ribs and remove thin layer of skin (that silver membrane) from the back of the ribs. The best way to remove the membrane is to slide a thin knife under the membrane and lift about an inch or so from the bone. Using a paper towel to help, grab the membrane while pressing down on the rib bone. Then give it a good tug toward you. Think of it as ripping off a band-aid – pull quickly. If your ribs are a long slab, you might need to do the same at the opposite end. Be quick and rip. Works every time.

Once the ribs have been trimmed, it’s time to rub. Lightly brush meat with a little olive oil (this helps rub “cling” to meat). Generously coat meat with rub, then use your fingers to massage seasoning into meat. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for several hours or over night for best flavor.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Using a broiler pan, pour about a half-inch or so of water into the bottom. To the water, add liquid smoke.

Peel and cut onion into large slivers. Scatter onion slivers over the smoky water in the pan.

Place the top rack of broiler pan over the flavored water. Unwrap ribs and lay on rack. Cover tightly with foil to seal well.

Bake ribs in the oven for about an hour. Check ribs. You want them to be cooked through but not falling off the bone. (Be careful, a puff of steam will poof out when the foil is lifted). Bake another 30 minutes, then check again.

Meanwhile, build a nice fire in your barbecue for both direct and indirect grilling. (Build coals on one side rather than spread out). Sear ribs over the direct heat. Move to indirect heat, mop with barbecue sauce. Close lid and let smoke about 10 minutes. Turn ribs, mop again and let smoke another 10 minutes.

Remove from grill. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

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The beauty of Cooler Corn is that you can boil the water at home, pour it over the corn and pack the corn for a “road” trip – by the time you get to your destination, the corn will be cooked. Keep it in the cooler to keep it hot. Use tongs to serve straight from the cooler.

Cooler Corn on the Cob
12-24 Ears of Corn
Boiling Water

Husk, clean and trim ears of corn. Place corn in a clean camping cooler. Bring several kettles or pots of water to a boil, enough to cover corn.

Pour boiling water over corn, close lid and let steep for 30-45 minutes.

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I love Texas Style Ranch Beans with barbecued meats – especially smoked pork or beef. These beans are more than tasty – once heated through they will travel well. For our barbecue, I plan to transfer the beans to a foil pan with a tight-fitting lid for transportation.

My pans are part of those “cheap” chafing sets you can get at a party supply store. These great for transporting foods and will keep everything nice and hot. Oh sure, you could accomplish the same thing with a fancy chafing dish, but for backyard barbecues and casual entertaining the aluminum foil sets are great – as well as versatile. You can use full pans, half pans or even quarter pans, depending upon how much food you’ll be serving.

Easy Texas Style Ranch Beans
1 Tablespoon Bacon Dripping
1/2 Medium red onion, diced
2 tsp New Mexico chili powder
2 large Cans Original Ranch-Style Beans
1 can (10 oz) Ro-tel Tomato & Green Chilies, undrained
1/4 cup Water (optional – see cooking methods)

Heat bacon drippings in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onions, saute until tender. Season with chili powder. Stir to blend.

Quick Method: Open cans and empty contents into large pot. Add water and onions. Heat over medium heat until bubbling.

Slow Method: Open cans and empty contents into a slow cooker. DO NOT ADD WATER. Stir in onions, cover and simmer on high for about an hour or until beans are heated through. Lower to keep warm and serve directly from the pot.

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While the potatoes are designed to serve straight from the cast iron skillet, again those foil pans with a tight-fitting lid are perfect for travel while keeping the casual “hobo” appeal of the potatoes.

Hobo Cast Iron Skillet Potatoes
4-5 bacon strips
2 tablespoons butter
5 medium/large red potatoes, diced
1 small sweet yellow onion, diced
1-2 teaspoons seasoned salt
pinch of ground black pepper

Heat skillet over medium heat and fry the bacon until crispy. Place the bacon on a paper towel, leaving the grease in the skillet. Add the butter.

Carefully add the potatoes and onion to the skillet.

Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the potatoes and stir gently until all of the mixture is coated in the grease.

Cover with a lid and cook for 25-30 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender. Stir potatoes every 5 minutes or so to prevent burning/sticking.

Before serving, crumble the cooked bacon and toss it into the potatoes.

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Pudding Filled Cupcakes with Italian Meringue Butter Cream Frosting
The Pudding Filling
1 package Instant Pudding and Pie Filling (any flavor – white chocolate, vanilla or chocolate works best)
2 Cups Milk, very cold

In a medium bowl, empty Pudding mix. Add milk and mix until smooth. Continue to whisk until pudding thickens. Place plastic wrap directly over the pudding and refrigerate until well-chilled, at lease an hour.

The Cupcake
1 Box French Vanilla White Cake
3 Eggs
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/4 Cup Melted butter
1 Cup Water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Line muffin tin with paper cups. Set aside until ready to fill.

Place eggs in a mixing bowl. Beat with paddle until pale, about 2 minutes.

Melt butter in a microwave safe dish. (Butter should be melted but not “hot”). Add to eggs. With paddle running, slowly add vegetable oil and water until light and frothy.

Add cake mix, blend for 30 seconds on low, then 2 minutes on medium high.

Using a small ice cream scoop, spoon batter into prepared tins. Bake according to package directions for the size cupcakes you are making. Regular tins work well, jumbo are also excellent for filling. While Mini cupcakes are okay, these are far more difficult to “core” and “fill” – which can lead to frustration.

Note: If more than a dozen regular or six jumbo cupcakes are desired, double the batter recipe.
Remove cupcakes from oven and let cool completely on a rack before filling and frosting.
While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting.

The Frosting
1-1/4 Cups Sugar
2/3 Cup Water Room temperature
5 Large Egg Whites
Pinch Cream of Tartar
2 Cups Unsalted Butter Room temperature, cut into tablespoons
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and water to a boil. Continue to boil until sugar syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, 240 – 244 degrees on a candy thermometer. As the syrup cooks, start the meringue.

Separate eggs and place the whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat whites on low until foam begins to form, increase to medium until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whip on medium-high-speed until medium to stiff peaks form. Do not whip to the point that the whites are dry.

With mixer running, add cooked syrup to whites in a slow but steady stream, beating at high-speed. In a steady stream, the addition of the sugar syrup should take about 5 minutes.

Add butter one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth, approximately 4-5 minutes.
Beat in vanilla, scrape down sides gently and beat again for 1 minute.
Note: This frosting will keep up to 3 days at room temperature, 2 weeks refrigerated

To Assemble Cupcakes: Here is the EASIEST tip for filling the cupcakes. Take an APPLE CORER and pull a cylindrical plug of cake out of each cupcake. Save the plug on the side while you pipe filling into the hole you’ve created.

DO NOT fill cupcakes to the top, you need a little room to reinsert the “plug”. Trim bottom of “plug” a little so as to cap the pudding-filled hole.

Once all the cupcakes have been filled and capped, pipe on the frosting as desired. Chill until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, remove the paper from the cupcake, plate and serve. It’s best to eat with a fork to avoid filling from dripping out on your clothes. Besides, serving a cupcake on a dessert plate elevates the cupcake to an elegant presentation. If desired, garnish the plate with a few berries and mint leaves or edible flowers.

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