The only handheld device dad needs this year for Father’s Day: a hulking sandwich filled with grilled pork chops, chicken thighs, soft-shell crab or garlic-slathered zucchini. These breadwinners, dreamed up by our food writers, let you bust out the backyard tongs without defaulting to steak and potatoes. Pair them with beer suggestions from Tribune beer writer Josh Noel, and pops is going to wonder how he raised such an amazing kid.
A favorite cheat to saute seafood is to oil up a cast-iron pan and set it on the gas grill. And this time of year, there’s nothing like a soft-shell crab sandwich, especially with crab in season.
Make it: Buy some cleaned, fresh soft-shells (if they haven’t been cleaned, get under the shell to remove the papery lungs), dredge them in seasoned flour (I add 3 tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning to a cup of flour), and fry them, 2 minutes per side, in some vegetable oil. (Keep the grill temperature at 400 or less; as with a gas stove, hot oil and open flame can be dangerous, so work carefully.) Drain on paper towels. I make a fast-and-dirty slaw with 2 cups of thinly sliced napa cabbage, 1 / 4 olive oil and the juice of 1 lime; place it on a soft Italian roll and add the crab. Smear with Sriracha mayo ( 1 / 4 cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon Sriracha), and top with tomato slices.
MAXWELL STREET MARKET MUSTARDY PORK CHOPS
In honor of Chicago’s beloved Maxwell Street Market, a sandwich that bears its name.
Make it: The key is finding pork chops that are 1) thin, 2) fatty and 3) bone-in. Once you’ve procured the proper cut, slather lightly with yellow mustard on both sides of the chop, then sprinkle liberally with seasoning salt of choice. (I’m partial to Johnny’s.) The most laborious part will be caramelizing onions in a skillet – this requires discipline and time, but those patient enough with be rewarded with a deeply sweet counterpart (just be sure to swirl a few tablespoons of mustard in the onion tangles before serving). Finally, grill the meat, the buttered hamburger buns alongside, top with mustardy onions and serve with whole hot peppers on the side. A taste of Chicago’s South Side, made for dad.
Chicken for Father’s Day? Sure, especially if you use heartier chicken thighs and pump up the flavor profile with spoonfuls of kimchee, the spunky, spicy pickled vegetable sold ready-made at Korean and Asian markets.
Make it: Marinate 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs for at least 2 hours in 1 / 2 cup soy sauce spiked with 2 minced scallions, 4 minced cloves garlic and 2 teaspoons minced ginger. Remove thighs from marinade (you can, if you wish, rub a bit of the scallion, garlic and clove mixture onto the meat), and grill over medium heat until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Split 6 crusty Kaiser rolls or baguettes. Line each with lettuce leaves, and position the grilled chicken pieces inside. Top with kimchee, gochujang (Korean chili bean paste) or Sriracha, ground peanuts and cilantro sprigs.
You’ve done grilled portobello mushrooms burger-style for your dad, the vegetarian. This year, consider the squash dog, Italian-style.
Make it: For each serving, choose young, small zucchini, say 6 to 7 inches long. Slice in half lengthwise. Mix some olive oil with crushed garlic. Brush all over zucchini halves. Set cut side up in a pan; sprinkle with an Italian herb mix, salt and pepper. Let rest 1 hour. Meanwhile, cut a long loaf of Italian bread crosswise in 6-inch lengths to accommodate the zucchini. Then slice each along one edge to make a bun. Brush cut surface with olive oil-garlic mix; brush more onto sweet red pepper strips and thick onion slices. Grill vegetables until cooked and nicely browned. Toast cut surface of bread. Layer on toasted bread: two zucchini halves, peppers and onions. Finish with shredded mozzarella if desired.