WASHINGTON — Forget the usual necktie and golf shirt. This Father’s Day, give dad something that will warm his heart and his stomach — a homemade meal.
Chef Michael Schlow, who has restaurants throughout the country, including The Riggsby, Tico, Alta Strada and Casolare in D.C., said there’s no greater gift than time spent cooking with kids.
“I think those are the most beautiful memories, the time centered around the kitchen,” said Schlow, who is a dad to a 5-year-old and a 13-year-old.
He is not suggesting that you make dad do all the work for his Father’s Day meal. Rather, he has a few ideas on how to get everyone involved in preparing a delicious dinner.
Dine on dumplings
A go-to dish of his when it comes to cooking with kids is dumplings. Pick up a pack of wrappers from the refrigerated section of your grocery store and let the kids come up with a few ideas for fillings. From meat-stuffed dumplings, to vegetarian-themed, to dessert, the options are endless.
“Once the filling’s made, you can kind of send them off on their own and they can have some fun, and either mom or dad can steam (the dumplings) off or cook them,” said Schlow, who added that this is a great make-ahead party dish, since the stuffings can be prepared hours in advance.
Get ready to grill
Grilling is basically synonymous with Father’s Day, and Schlow said while it may not be wise to have little ones man the charcoals, they can help with prep. Put them to work mixing marinades, slicing veggies and helping with sides.
Schlow’s cookbook, “It’s About Time,” dedicates an entire to chapter to hosting the perfect cookout, and if your Father’s Day plans involve having some friends over, he has some advice.
If your group is relatively small, he said you can get away with cooking almost anything. But if you’re entertaining 10 or more, you might want to rethink the menu.
“Maybe don’t try ribs on a day where you have 30 people coming over; keep it to something small and easy,” he said.
And think beyond hot dogs and chicken. Schlow is known for his meaty and messy burgers (you can find the recipe on his website), and he said steak is always a crowd-pleaser.
“I don’t know too many people that say no to a big, juicy steak, especially if it’s cooked nicely,” Schlow said.
“You can also do beautiful grilled vegetables, grilled portobellos and things that can be at room temperature also so that everything doesn’t have to come off the grill at exactly the same time. I think that is also a nice trick for a really successful barbecue.”
Keep it chill
At the end of the day, Schlow said whatever you make for dad — and with dad — will turn out great, because it’s less about the final product and more about the time spent together.
“It’s a day to just relax and celebrate and not make it too fussy — I think that’s the big win for a good Father’s Day. If the weather’s good, be outside, just enjoy each other and remember what you make isn’t as important as who you’re spending it with.”
And mixing up a cold cocktail for dad doesn’t hurt either. You can find a recipe for a negroni on Schlow’s website — just swap the packed snow for crushed ice.
Need more recipe ideas? Check out Schlow’s “perfect spaghetti with spicy tomato and basil sauce;” slow-roasted salmon; and warm shrimp salad — all available on his website.