Summer nights were magical when I was a child. We had what, at the time, seemed like an immense backyard, dotted with trees for climbing, an old cobwebby cabin where we could play house and store, and a campfire circle built out of stones.
While the fireflies danced around us, we roasted hotdogs, hamburgers, and marshmallows (this was the beginning of my love affair with marshmallows) with whatever neighbors, cousins, or friends happened to be visiting that night. Sometimes my dad pulled out his old guitar and sang the three songs he knew (our favorite was “Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pandowdy”) while we warbled along.
Every time I’m near a campfire, I’m transported back to those carefree nights, when even my dad was relaxed.
My father, Ronald Shlensky, grew up in a cozy house in the south side of Chicago, helping his dad run his pharmacy. By the time I–the third of the Shlensky children–came along, my dad had put himself through college and medical school and was working on a law degree. I’m not exactly sure what drove him to work so incredibly hard, but when he came home every evening, it took him quite a while to unwind. So those summer evenings around the fire, with my dad laughing, singing, and helping us find the perfect sticks for toasting marshmallows, were precious.
While I love to use the gas grill that my mom and dad bought Andrew and me years ago, it’s quite a different experience than our childhood cook-outs. Back then, to make sure our meal was fully cooked but not charred, we’d have to scoot around the fire to avoid the grey smoke that burned our eyes.
I love my grill, and its containing, protective lid, but I miss those simple days, and I miss my dad.
Perhaps this father’s day, you and your children would like to show the dads in your life how much you love and appreciate them by preparing one of Andrew’s favorite meals on the grill (if you have a campfire, so much the better!), Grilled Baby Back Ribs with Pineapple Glaze.
I’d also be honored if you would share one of your favorite memories with your father in the comments below.
Recipe: Grilled Baby Back Ribs with Pineapple Glaze
Treat family and friends to these delicious Grilled Baby Back Ribs.
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 1/3 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 2-3 lbs. baby back pork ribs (1 or 2 racks)
- 20 oz. canned pineapple rings/slices in 100% juice
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. In a small bowl, combine the paprika, salt, chili powder, cinnamon and 1 tsp. brown sugar. Lay the ribs flat in a dish with sides. Sprinkle the spice mixture evenly over both sides of the ribs and rub it into the meat with your fingers. (This can be done up to 24 hours in advance.)
- To make the glaze, combine 1/4 cup pineapple juice (from the can of pineapple slices), ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and 2 Tbsp. brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer it for 8 - 10 minutes until it is thickened and has reduced by about 1/3. Set it aside.
- Grill the ribs for 20 minutes, turning them once. Then, brush the top side of the ribs with the glaze and continue to cook them, flipping and brushing with sauce every 5-10 minutes, until the ribs are nicely browned and the meat cuts easily with a sharp knife, about 40 minutes total (but check them sooner if your grill runs hot). If the ribs start to blacken reduce the heat and move them off the direct heat.
- When the ribs are about 10 minutes from being done, grill the pineapple slices directly on the grates of the grill for 3 – 5 minutes per side until they are lightly browned.
- If any glaze remains, bring it to a boil for 2 minutes on the stovetop to eliminate any bacteria from the raw meat, and serve it on the side with the ribs. Cut the rack(s) into individual ribs to serve. Serve them immediately or refrigerate them for up to 3 days (if you can wait that long!).