Not so long ago, the kitchen was the domain of the lady of the house, and if her husband cooked at all, it was most likely over a barbecue pit.
Not a sleek, stainless steel, gas-powered grill, mind you, but an old charcoal pit that was hauled out of the shed every summer, dusted off and put back into commission for another season of charring burgers, franks and chicken smothered in sticky, bottled barbecue sauce.
Times have changed and the rusty old barbecue pit has gone the way of the avocado kitchen. Some of the fancier charcoal pits today cost more that our parents’ first car and tricked-out gas grills can equal a month’s mortgage.
Meanwhile, many men now share the kitchen spotlight with their wives, and more women are venturing outdoors to learn how to grill.
Some, however, are still a little unsteady on their feet. Take Tracey’s friend Stephanie Campbell. In honor of Father’s Day, she wants to prepare a healthful, fresh-cooked meal on the grill for her husband, John. But she doesn’t quite feel comfortable with outdoor cooking, and she recently asked Tracey for some pointers on how to grill and what to cook.
On a recent afternoon, Tracey went to the Campbells’ house and showed Stephanie and her three children how to grill a Father’s Day dinner for John that is easy, delicious and guaranteed to satisfy a variety of palates. The youngsters were able to help with the preparation, and they all got a primer on the basics of grilling.
The recipe Tracey shared with them is for the Ultimate Grilled Chicken, a whole chicken that is seasoned, sliced vertically down the breast bone and cooked on the grill under the weight of a brick.
If you’re unfamiliar with the chicken-under-a-brick method of cooking, it’s a northern Italian style of grilling that is all the rage at the moment, and with good reason.
Grilling under a brick flattens the meat, allowing it to cook very evenly. The result is meat that stays really juicy on the inside, and cooks up to a perfect crisp on the outside. The foil-wrapped brick - you can use a heavy cast-iron skillet if you prefer - also ensures that the chicken cooks all the way through without drying out, which is one of the challenges of grilling.
The Campbell children thought it was really cool to cook with brick weights, and they loved the taste of the finished product.
Tracey also showed them how to make a Grilled Avocado With Corn and Tomato Salad. It’s bright and colorful, complements the chicken beautifully and is full of fresh summer flavors.
Grilling avocados is another popular food trend, not in the least because it brings out the nutty, buttery flavor of this wonderful vegetable. If you and your kids like avocados plain, you’ll like them even better grilled.
For the Campbells’ Father’s Day dessert, Tracey shared one of her family’s favorite recipes for ice cream pie. It’s great because you can use a variety of ice creams to make it as sophisticated or as simple and kid-friendly as you like. It is filled with a delicious homemade ganache, which is an easy but rich semisweet chocolate icing that is wonderful on all kinds of desserts.
The Campbells had a great time learning how to make this fun, easy menu. It is one that Stephanie said she will be adding to her family’s favorites. We hope that you will, too.