Darina Allen: Perfect recipes for dads this Father’s Day

Darina Allen: Perfect recipes for dads this Father’s Day
Darina Allen: "My suggestion for a Father’s Day treat is to plan a BBQ, maybe invite just a few of dad’s pals, in line with government social distancing regulations. Plan the menu, do the prep, make the sauces and a couple of salads."

Oops! Father’s Day has just crept up on us. 

The build-up seems far less than to Mother’s Day on March 22. How unfair is that to all the heroic and much-loved dads around the country. Well today is your day, dad, so let’s have an interactive celebration.

Somehow, even the most gastronomically challenged lads seem to have a rush of blood to the head when they spy a barbeque.

Even a gas grill ignites their zeal but cooking over ‘live fire’ really hits the spot and awakes our inner hunter-gatherer.

Of course, there are exceptions but for many, it must be meat, thick succulent beef ribs, chops, a butterflied shoulder of lamb smothered in spices. 

Well-charred grilled onions are also irresistible and the new season’s onions are now available.

Thick potato slices, threaded on to skewers, can be ready to cook. I love to sprinkle them with garam masala or a favourite curry powder just as they come off the grill.

So my suggestion for a Father’s Day treat is to plan a BBQ, maybe invite just a few of dad’s pals, in line with government social distancing regulations. Plan the menu, do the prep, make the sauces and a couple of salads. Marinate the meat and fish, order a few bottles of summer wine and some craft beers.

Set the scene for dad to have fun on Father’s Day. By the way you’ll need to throw in the wash-up as part of the treat.

So what to choose? Order a 5cm thick, well-hung rib of beef, Hereford or Black Angus, avoid the continental breeds.

You are looking for beef from an animal that was fully grass-fed and not finished on grain. Talk to your local butcher and be prepared to pay more for something really special.

It’ll take some time to cook it, leave it to rest on the edge of the grill for 5-15 minutes. Then cut the meat off the bone and into 5mm slices. 

It’s so worth having a few sauces ready to slather over the juicy pink meat – a classic Béarnaise is my favourite, and a great big bowl of salad.

Wire-rack fish is the perfect technique for the BBQ. No need for fancy kit, just lay the fish fillets between
two wire racks and flip over during cooking.

Spatchcock Chicken

Serves: 6-8

Spatchcock Chicken - brilliant when barbequeued
Spatchcock Chicken - brilliant when barbequeued

A brilliant way to barbecue a whole chicken. Split the chicken down the backbone and flatten, slather all over with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with gutsy herbs and a spice.

  • 1 whole free-range organic chicken
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • chopped rosemary or thyme leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil or butter
  • a few cloves of garlic

Insert a heavy chopping knife into the cavity of the chicken from the back end to the neck. Press down sharply to cut through the backbone.

Alternatively place the chicken, breast side down on the chopping board, using poultry shears cut along the entire length of the backbone as close to the centre as you can manage.

Open the bird out as much as possible. Slash each chicken leg two or three times with a sharp knife. Season with flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper, sprinkle with chopped rosemary or thyme and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Allow to marinate for at least an hour.

To barbecue:

Lay skin side down on the barbecue grid – 7-8 inches from the heat source. Turn over after 8-10 minutes and continue to cook on the other side.

To oven cook:

Transfer to a roasting tin. Turn skin side upwards and tuck the whole garlic cloves underneath. Roast in a preheated oven 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 40 minutes approximately.

Check the colour of the juices between the thigh and the breast — they should run clear when the chicken is cooked.

Carve on a chopping board and serve hot with a good salad of organic leaves and a herb mayonnaise.

Chargrilled Potato Skewers

Darina Allen: Perfect recipes for dads this Father’s Day
Darina's Potato skewers

Serves: 4-6

  • 900g -2lbs- small new potatoes
  • salt
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, approximately
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped
  • sea salt
  • metal skewer or pre-soaked bamboo skewers

- If potatoes are large. Slice into 3/4inch thick slices and then thread onto the skewer.

- Scrub the potatoes and cook in boiling salted water for 8-10 minutes depending on size (they should be almost cooked). (can be cooked ahead).

Cool, cut in half, toss in olive oil and sprinkle with finely chopped rosemary and sea salt.

Thread the potato halves onto the skewers. Cook potato halves over a barbeque until crisp and slightly charred on both sides.

Alternatively roast in a hot oven 230ºC/450ºF/gas mark 8 for 10-15 minutes or until cooked and nicely brown — you may need to turn halfway through.

Cut larger potatoes into 2.5cm (1 inch) slices and thread horizontally onto the skewers.

Madhur Jaffrey’s Butterflied Leg of Lamb

Serves: 10-12

>Ask your local butcher to butterfly the leg of lamb for you — it’ll take a bit of time to make the marinade, a labour of love but so worth it. Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients, it’s just a question of adding to mix.

  • 1 leg of lamb, butterflied -3.4 - 4kg (8-9lbs)
  • 1 medium sized onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 piece of fresh ginger 7.5cm (3 inch) x 2.5cm (1 inch) long, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 7 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 175ml (6fl oz) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (see recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 225ml (8fl oz) olive oil
  • 2 - 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper


spring onion and radishes

Ballymaloe Relish (optional)

Whizz the onion, ginger, garlic and 4 tablespoons of lemon juice in a food processor or liquidise for about a minute. Put this paste into a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Cut off all the fat and tissue from the meat and make lots of holes in it with the point of a knife, rub the paste well into the meat and make sure it goes into the holes.

Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Turn it over several times during that period. Light the barbecue 15 minutes ahead if you are using natural charcoal otherwise 45 minutes or better still an hour before you start to cook.

Lift the meat out of the marinade and drain for a few minutes.

Sear on both sides first then raise the rack to the uppermost notch and cook for 20 minutes on each side. Brush frequently with the marinade until it’s all used up.

The meat needs to cook for about 50 minutes in total and should be very dark on the outside but still pinkish inside.

To Serve

Slice into thin slices with a sharp knife. Serve immediately on a hot serving dish garnished with spring onions, radishes and flat parsley.

Add a bowl of yoghurt and fresh mint or a raita. Ballymaloe Relish is a particularly delicious accompaniment.

Wire Rack Salmon with Dill Butter and Roast Tomatoes

Darina Allen: Perfect recipes for dads this Father’s Day
Grilled Salmon with Dill Butter

Serves: 10-20

Fish works brilliantly on the barbecue provided you put it in a ‘fish cage’ for ease of turning.

However, you can do a perfectly good job with a ‘Heath Robinson’ type solution using 2 wire cake racks. Mackerel can be substituted for salmon in this recipe.

  • 1 or 2 unskinned sides of wild fresh salmon
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil or melted butter

    Dill Butter
  • 110-225g (4-8oz) butter[/li
  • 4-8 tablespoons of freshly chopped dill
  • 10-20 cherry tomatoes on the vine

Sprinkle the salmon generously with sea salt up to an hour before cooking.

Light the grill or barbecue. Just before serving, lay the salmon fillets skin side down on the wire rack. Brush the flesh with oil or melted butter and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. Put the other wire rack on top.

Lay on the grid of the barbecue, 15-20cm (6-8 inch) from the heat, cook for 10-15 minutes on the skin side. Turn the entire cage over and continue to cook for 5-6 minutes or until just cooked through.

Time will depend on the thickness of the fish.

Meanwhile melt the butter in a saucepan on the edge of the grill, stir in the freshly chopped dill, spoon a little dill butter over the salmon and serve with roast cherry tomatoes on the vine.

Roast Cherry Tomatoes

Drizzle the truss of the tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Roast on the BBQ for 5 or 6 minutes until they are warm through and just beginning to burst.

Hot Tips

Garlic scapes

Garlic scapes are the bolting growing point and head of the garlic plant. They are a wonderful ingredient that I first came across in the Union Square Farmers Market in New York some years ago.

I rushed home to use the bolting shoots in my vegetable garden but then discovered that Peter and Marita Colliers at Drummond House in Co Louth were offering beautifully packaged garlic scapes and recipes for sale and online. 

They are in season now and are an excellent source of vitamins A and C as well as fibre. Try them in pesto, roasted, pickled, stir fried, raw in salads, piazza toppings or risottos.

Tom Clancy’s fowl

Ballycotton farmer, Tom Clancy rears table fowl ducks and chickens. The latter weigh about 3.5kg and are full of flavour. 

Sounds incredible but one gorgeous roast chicken with roast potato, spinach, carrots, chard and lots of roast potatoes fed 10 adults and 11 grandchildren amply for family supper recently. 

The carcass and bones made a fine pot of chicken stock. 

Available from Tom Clancy’s stall at Mahon Point Farmers Market and the Ballymaloe Cookery School Farm Shop 021 464 6785.

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