For many dads, being at the grill is the only place they want to be on a warm summer weekend. For others, a comfy lawn chair is the preferred spot. Whichever kind of father you're celebrating this weekend will appreciate this easy meal from the grill.
Most of the work is done ahead of time, in the kitchen, which means that when you head out to the grill, you won't have a lot to do. That's when you pour the mojitos.
Mojitos are a traditional Cuban cocktail of white rum, limes, sugar, soda water and mint. They are cool and refreshing, the perfect antidote to the hot summer sun.
And they pair perfectly with pulled chicken sandwiches, a take on the traditional pulled pork sandwiches. This complex-looking dish actually comes together quickly and easily. The sauce ingredients are simply combined in a bowl and then gently heated on the grill; the chicken is cooked quickly on the grill over high heat, and then "pulled" with two forks. Don't try to get fancy with the rolls; the softer the bun, the better it will be at absorbing all the spicy, flavorful sauce.
Serve the chicken sandwiches with an easy, colorful slaw that marinates while you prepare the chicken. Simply toss sliced cabbage (using red and green makes for a more attractive salad) and onions with a tangy cider vinegar dressing, and let it sit for a few hours for the flavors to meld and the cabbage to soften slightly.
The warm potato salad features quickly grilled scallions that add a dash of color and flavor. For dessert, mix up some fresh berries and splash with brandy or a flavored liqueur.
To muddle the mint mixture, use a large spoon (a wooden one works well) in an aggressive up-and-down motion. Muddling creates friction to dissolve the sugar and bruise the mint, which is required to release the fragrant oils.
2 cups loosely packed mint leaves
juice of 2 medium limes (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup sugar
9 oz. white rum
2 cups soda water
In a small pitcher, combine the mint, lime juice, sugar and about 1 cup of ice cubes.
Using a wooden spoon, "muddle" the mixture for about 3 minutes, until the mint is bruised and aromatic, and the sugar is completely melted.
Add the rum and soda water.
Serve immediately over ice.
Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
You can substitute chicken-leg quarters for the split breasts, but you'll need to cook them 10 to 15 minutes longer.
11/2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbsps. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsps. Dijon mustard (grainy style is fine)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbsps. vegetable oil
1 tsp. chili powder
Tabasco sauce to taste
salt and pepper to taste
6 bone-in split chicken breasts, about 6 lbs.
6 soft hamburger buns
Light the grill. In a medium metal bowl, combine all ingredients, except the chicken and mix well. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper.
Grill the chicken over medium-high heat about 15 minutes per side, or until cooked through and meat registers 165° on an instant-read thermometer. Set aside to cool slightly.
While the chicken is resting, place the sauce bowl on the grill (if using a gas grill, turn the grill off first; if using a charcoal grill, place the bowl over a cool section of grill).
Let the sauce cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes, or until heated through and the chicken has cooled somewhat.
Remove the chicken from the bones, and discard any skin and fat. Using two forks, shred the chicken. Add the chicken to the sauce and stir to coat evenly.
Serve immediately on very soft hamburger buns.
Tangy Cole Slaw
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsps. grainy mustard
2 Tbsps. sugar
1 tsp. Tabasco sauce
salt and pepper
1/2 head Savoy cabbage, sliced thin
1/2 head red cabbage, sliced thin
1 large onion, sliced thin
In a large bowl, combine the vinegar, oil, mustard, sugar, Tabasco, and salt and pepper.
Add the cabbages and onion; stir to coat evenly. Press a plate on top of the slaw and weigh it down with several cans.
Let sit at room temperature at least 1 hour and up to 3.
Stir, and season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.
Warm Potato Salad
21/2 lbs. red bliss potatoes, halved or quartered
1 bunch scallions, ends trimmed
1/2 cup grainy mustard
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
salt and pepper
Light the grill.
While grill is heating, cook the potatoes: In a large pot, cover them with cold water and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes.
While the potatoes are cooking, combine the mustard, vinegar and sugar in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper, and pour into an aluminum tray.
When potatoes are cooked, drain and add to the aluminum tray; toss with dressing to coat. Cover with aluminum foil and place on a cool part of the grill.
Just before serving, place the scallions on the grill and cook until charred and wilted, 2 to 4 minutes.
Coarsely chop the scallions, toss with the potatoes and transfer to a serving dish.
This column introduces new food writer Keri Fisher, co-author of One Cake, One Hundred Desserts. E-mail her at: [email protected]