Father’s Day is one of those “holidays” that doesn’t really garner a large emotional response. Not from many children or from fathers themselves, for that matter. It mostly winds up becoming a day among so many others with the cliche tie or “world’s best dad” mugs along with a hastily chosen card. The faint obligation of the day lends itself to not being taken as seriously. And men, being men, aren’t keen on going through the motions. Usually, it’s nicer just to eliminate the formality.
So why not do something better? Why not spend time with ‘father’? And not the kind of time that leaves the bunch of you silently and awkwardly sitting in the parlor wishing to God it was not as tacky as it is to divert yourself by scrolling through the latest meme generator. There is at least one thing that most dads can enjoy across the board that easily becomes an activity worthy of bringing you closer together.
This Father’s Day, I am doing just that. From start to finish, even. Growing up, our family used a small charcoal BBQ anytime my dad went to cook at the “outside spot.” Honestly, the smell of lighter fluid (I really shouldn’t have been sniffing) and burning Kingsford charcoal was a staple of my childhood. You can even say it was seared into my memory banks (see what I did there?). It was something I’ve missed for some time now. Time to recreate it!
I stopped by the local board and nail to pick up a classic style round BBQ. Off to Oma and Opa’s house we went with a bunch of baby back ribs and Kingsford Long-Burning Briquets. You see, I could bring any meat over to grill with my dad, but ribs? Those say, “Here’s food we cook together and meat we split to share. I love you, daddy.” Plus, ribs are nature’s original man meat as you just HAVE to use your hands when you eat it. There’s nothing more manly than barbecue sauce on your cheeks, either.
The boys especially like that part and frankly, so do I.
I love my dad so much, I was even nice enough to come over with the BBQ unassembled. He LOVES spending time putting things together for me. I mean, he did my Christmas bike when I was six so…obviously it’s his favorite pastime. Now that I’m all growed-up with four little boys of my own, I made sure I helped. There’s nothing that brings a father and son closer together than when the son constantly teases his father for not being able to see fine print.
A few curse words and hammer strikes later, it was done.
For the first time ever, I got a chance to use a coal starter – that’s even something my father never did. This little can helped us start the Kingsford briquets like they did back in the old days. Honestly, it was a really fun experience putting the paper under the briquette hopper, lighting it and watching this early-20th century-looking device get things going. As that smoke started to rise, so did my appetite. It was like I was six again…except bigger, with less hair on my head and more on my body.
Another advantage of taking the ribs to my parents’ house is that my mother pitched in by making her homemade barbecue sauce and pan-fried corn. This truly is a whole-family affair.
Chelsea pulls the membrane off the underside if the butcher hasn’t already done that and then tenderizes pork ribs with an unseasoned sprinkle-on tenderizer like Adolph’s (rubbing roughly a tablespoon per pound into the meat and letting sit for half an hour).
Your Handy Guide to Old-Fashioned BBQ Ribs
- 6 pork rib racks
- 3 cups BBQ sauce
- 1/4 cup Adolph’s tenderizer
- 1 bag Kingsford Long-Burning Briquets
- Pre-heat briquets on the grill and pre-heat an oven to 300 degrees.
- Pull the membrane of the underside of the pork ribs, if necessary.
- Rub tenderizer into ribs and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Bake ribs in oven, covered in foil, for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Place ribs on grill over pre-heated briquets and coat with BBQ sauce. Cook 7-10 minutes, turning halfway through.
- Let rest 5 minutes and serve.
We then tossed the ribs in the oven with a touch of pepper and covered with foil to par-bake at 300 degrees for an hour and a half.
Once done, I pulled them out and took them on the last 30-foot leg of their journey.
With the briquets now magically glowing in the grill, I carefully laid the ribs down with those “dad” tongs and spooned on the sauce. There is something about Kingsford that adds to the flavor of any meat you grill. That smoky flavor you simply can’t get from a gas grill is cooked right into the meat, really taking it up a notch.
The ribs were grilled for just about 7 minutes, flipping midway through. Inside we went, and the fruits of our father-son labor paid off. There were no ties to secretly toss when everyone was gone. No mugs to stow away. Just memories and bellies very full of ribs.
Now THAT is how every Father’s day should be spent.