Skip the necktie. If your dad’s a foodie, he wants something cool this year! All of these ideas have been rigorously tested by our panel of experts (OK, just me), and get a big thumbs up.
Digital Smoker: I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to grilling. I refuse to use a gas grill because I think there’s no difference between that and my kitchen stove. I use real hardwood charcoal, with real smoke and real flavor. But when it comes to smoking meats, basic smokers require constant maintenance so that the temperatures don’t fluctuate. With a 7-year-old daughter to take care of, that’s something I don’t have time for, especially if I’m cooking something low and slow for about 12 hours. So I have a digital smoker. You plug it in, set the time and temperature, and then periodically add wood chips through a side drawer to smoke the meat. You can literally set it and forget it. I have it cook through the night, so I wake up to a beautifully smoked slab of meat in the morning. Masterbuilt Electric Digital Smokehouse.
Cognac! How can you go wrong with booze for Father’s Day? But if you’re looking for something really special to give Dad (or your favorite morning DJ with a food blog), may I suggest Kelt XO. What makes Kelt XO special is that before bottling, they place the barrels of cognac on board ships that sail the world for months at a time. During this time, the cognac gently rocks back and forth in the barrels, slowly acquiring a smoothness you can’t find in other spirits. Each bottle even comes with a tag that tells you exactly what ports around the world your cognac has been to. At most high-end liquor stores.
Jack Daniels smoking chips: Whether you have a smoker or not, these chips will make anything you cook taste better. Made from the old oak barrels that they use to age Jack Daniels, you get a serious hit of whiskey in every bag…and in your food. Simply toss a handful of chips you’ve soaked in water for about a half hour, and they will infuse the food on your grill with flavor. You can also use them dry, on charcoal or gas grills.
Cookbook favorites: “Jamie at Home,” by Jamie Oliver (a great combination gardening/cookbook), “Charcuterie,” by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn (the best book on how to cure and smoke meats), “Barbecued Ribs, Smoked Butts, and Other Great Feeds,” by Jeanne Voltz (my absolute barbecue Bible!), and “Martin Yan’s Feast: The Best of Yan Can Cook” by Martin Yan (the authority on Asian cooking.)
BBQ timer: Even someone who has barbecued all their lives runs the risk of burning or undercooking a roast or a large bird. Opening the grill and jabbing the meat with a thermometer several times causes the juices from the meat to run out, leaving it dry…and every time you open the grill, you lose precious heat. This is the better solution: You stick the needle into the roast or bird and leave it in there the entire time it cooks, so no juices leak out. You plug it into the monitor which then calls you when the meat is ready (from as far as 100 feet away!) You set the time or temperature, and then get to join your guests for the party. Redi-Check Remote Cooking Thermometer.
Smoking Gun: This is a fun toy. There are times when you don’t need a full-on smoker. All you want to do is smoke a small piece of fish or a hunk of cheese. You simply take some of the finely ground wood chip powder (comes with the gun) and place it in the pipe-like bowl. Light it, and the Smoking Gun will blow that smoke through a hose into the Ziploc bag where your piece of fish is waiting for its magical transformation to smoky deliciousness. (Thanks to chef Rizwan Ahmed of the Hourglass Brasserie in Bristol, RI, who introduced me to this very cool device.)
Mason jar cocktail shaker: A fun new way for Dad to make his martini. http://www.masonshaker.com