Picture a stereotypical American barbecue. Mom is doling out potato salad; the kids are running amok, thick slices of watermelon in hand; and Dad, inevitably, is stationed behind the grill. While we’ve largely progressed past the tropes of 1950s Americana, the association of fathers and grills persists.
“I’m not sure why, exactly, grilling became the man’s job in the house,” muses barbecue evangelist and Brooklyn-based restaurateur Joe Carroll. “It would be really interesting to figure out why that happened.”
Carroll’s father filled the grilling position in his suburban New Jersey household, but happily passed the responsibilities down to his 12-year-old, culinary-minded son. The younger Carroll learned everything about “food and cooking and eating” from live-in Italian grandparents. “It made me pretty fearless about cooking. I didn’t think twice about cooking things at a young age.”
Now a father himself, Carroll cooks frequently with his 6-year-old twins, Dante and Susannah, but it’s too early to tell if they’ll follow in his footsteps. “They go through phases every few weeks of really wanting to cook with me or not being that interested in it at all.”
Since his early backyard grilling days, Carroll has traveled the country, educating himself on regional barbecue styles. He used this knowledge to open multiple successful restaurants, including Fette Sau and St. Anselm in Brooklyn, NY, and now has written an homage to his beloved cooking techniques, Feeding the Fire: Recipes and Strategies for Better Barbecue and Grilling.
From this cookbook, he shares a dad-friendly Father's Day menu: lamb shoulder blade chops with mint-gremolata butter and charred corn with compound cream cheese.
For home cooks accustomed to throwing steaks or burgers on the grill, Carroll encourages experimentation with lamb. “It’s delicious, but it’s also something different, too; it’s not just the same thing over and over again.” He recommends cooking lamb similarly to beef, aiming for medium, but adjusting cook time based on the cut. “The shoulder blade chops are great,” he says. “They’re inexpensive, and they’re super flavorful,” but may need to cook a bit longer, as they’re a particularly fatty segment.
For a crowd-pleasing side dish, Carroll suggests grilled, rather than steamed, corn. He prefers his cobs extra-charred, which gives the kernels a smoky, nutty flavor. “If you’re looking to get that char,” he advises, “pull off the husk. Don’t be afraid of getting it dark.” As a twist on spreading compound butter over the warm corn, he makes a stickier compound cream cheese. To finish, he suggests using a tangy, zaatar spice–and-herb blend to create a Middle Eastern alternative to the popular Mexican-style corn. Smoked paprika or even classic salt and pepper will also suffice in a pinch.
An adventurous and knowledgeable wine drinker (he dedicates an entire chapter of his book to wine), Carroll proposes a “very approachable, gulp-able” Beaujolais for the meal. “With a lot of these grilling recipes, aside from rib eye and a couple of pretty intense things, I often recommend really easy-drinking wines. In a barbecue setting, they just work so well. They’re delicious wines, but you don’t have to think about them too much.” Below, Wine Spectator provides reviews for 15 recently rated Beaujolais bottlings.
Recipes adapted from Feeding the Fire by Joe Carroll and Nick Fauchald (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015. Photographs by William Hereford.
For the mint-gremolata butter:
For the lamb shoulder blade chops:
To make the mint-gremolata butter:
1. In a food processor, combine the butter, mint, lemon zest, honey, salt and pepper, and pulse until well-combined.
2. Transfer the butter mixture to a sheet of plastic wrap and, using the plastic wrap, form it into a log about 2 inches thick.
3.Twist the ends tightly to seal and refrigerate until firm. (The gremolata butter can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost before using.)
To make the lamb shoulder blade chops:
1. Prepare a hot, single-level fire in a grill. Spread an even layer of charcoal, about 1 or 2 coals deep, over the bottom of the grill. This will create a medium to medium-hot fire, depending on the thickness of the coals, that is best for the direct cooking of ingredients that would burn over a hotter fire.
2. Season the lamb chops generously with salt and pepper. Grill, turning once or twice, until well-charred and cooked to the desired doneness, 8 to 10 minutes for medium. Transfer the lamb chops to plates.
3. Place a disk of butter on top of each lamb chop. Let the lamb rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 4.
1. Prepare a hot, single-level fire in a grill.
2. In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, zaatar, lemon zest and lemon juice, and mix with a fork until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Brush the corn all over with olive oil, and grill, turning every minute or so, until blistered and charred all over, 8 to 10 minutes.
4. Transfer the corn to a platter and use a butter knife to spread the cream cheese all over it. Sprinkle with zaatar and serve. Serves 8.
GEORGES DUBOEUF Morgon Jean-Ernest Descombes 2012
Candied black cherry, dried strawberry and fennel seed notes mix in this bright, tangy red, underscored by rich accents of smoke and leather. Silky and well-balanced, with a bright, zesty finish that echoes the ripe fruit flavors. Drink now through 2020. 679 cases imported.
DOMINIQUE PIRON Morgon Grands Cras 2011
This harmonious red delivers a silky weave of sun-dried black cherry, fragrant leather, dried tea rose, pomegranate, cured tobacco and spice box flavors, framed by mouthwatering acidity and refined tannins. Drink now through 2021. 250 cases imported.
M. LAPIERRE Morgon 2013
The wild strawberry and pomegranate flavors are highlighted by fresh acidity in this balanced red, with graphite, licorice and floral notes that ease into the tangy finish. Drink now through 2017. 2,265 cases imported.
DOMAINE PIRON-LAMELOISE Moulin-à-Vent Vieilles Vignes 2011
Hints of mesquite smoke and cigar box provide a rich tapestry of flavor, with fruit notes of crushed blackberry and plum sauce gushing underneath, backed by grilled herb, espresso and graphite accents. The silky palate swathes the sinewy tannins and carries the mouthwatering acidity. Drink now through 2021. 250 cases imported.
STÉPHANE AVIRON Juliénas Vieilles Vignes 2012
Hints of dark chocolate and smoke underscore the fig cake, baked plum and cured tobacco notes in this chewy, light- to medium-bodied red. Offers a fresh, minerally finish. Drink now through 2020. 200 cases imported.
XAVIER & NICOLAS BARBET Moulin-à-Vent Vieilles Vignes 2011
A spiced red, with chewy tannins and tightly knit flavors of sun-dried black cherry, plum cake, black licorice string and mineral. Open-knit finish. Drink now through 2021. 2,500 cases made.
CHÂTEAU DE BELLEVUE Morgon Climat Les Charmes 2011
A hint of tarry smoke underscores this creamy red, layered with baked raspberry, fresh brown bread and woodsy spice flavors. Balanced and fresh. The subtle finish shows light grip. Drink now through 2018. 4,000 cases made.
DIOCHON Moulin-à-Vent Cuvée Vieilles Vignes 2013
Broad but focused, this is packed with fresh plum, black cherry and peach flavors. Loamy earth and fresh herb accents add dimension, supported by lightly chewy tannins. Fresh finish. Drink now through 2018. 630 cases imported.
JOSEPH DROUHIN Brouilly 2011
Creamy and well-balanced, this elegant red features ripe black cherry, mineral, ground anise and floral notes, framed by light tannins and juicy acidity. Drink now through 2018. 275 cases imported.
CHÂTEAU DE FLEURIE Fleurie 2012
A chewy red, well-knit and balanced, with juicy acidity and a silky palate of strawberry compote, tobacco, star anise and violet. Drink now through 2017. 5,000 cases made.
DOMAINE DES GAUDETS Morgon Côte du Py 2013
Well-spiced and aromatic, with a lightly chewy palate of dried cherry, black raspberry and fresh earth notes. Lingering finish. Drink now through 2018. 1,500 cases made.
CHÂTEAU THIVIN Côte de Brouilly 2013
Damson plum and mulberry fruit sits on the silky palate of this harmonious red, with light floral and spice accents mixing with a hint of minerality on the fresh finish. Drink now through 2018. 1,195 cases imported.
DOMAINE DUPEUBLE Beaujolais 2013
Well-balanced and bright, this spicy red offers tangy plum, mineral and mulberry flavors. Light-bodied and accessible. Drink now. 3,520 cases imported.
STÉPHANE AVIRON Beaujolais-Villages 2012
Crisp acidity enlivens this light-bodied red, with easy-drinking flavors of wild strawberry, herbes de Provence and spice box. Drink now. 1,050 cases imported.
JOSEPH DROUHIN Beaujolais-Villages 2012
Fresh and balanced, with black raspberry, dried herb, graphite and floral accents. Drink now. 4,500 cases imported.