I'm glad fathers have a special day of their own because we have it pretty rough these days. Especially when it comes to television. Just look at how dads have been portrayed over the past ten years or so: Red Forman, Homer Simpson, Tony Soprano, Peter Griffin…
Wow, I'm thinking of getting a sex change operation just thinking about these TV icons and the fact that we share two things in common: we're all male and we're all dads.
Of course many of us pine for the good old days of Ward Cleaver, Danny Thomas and Andy Taylor. Heck, even those in the not-too-distant past were worthy of emulation: Howard Cunningham, Cliff Huxtable and Carl Winslow...
So when did it become open season on dads? When did the word "dad" find its way into the Roget's thesaurus as a synonym for "stupid jackass"?
Here's my theory.
"They" did it. And by that I mean the mysterious and enigmatic "they" that are the cause of most of society's problems. Although we've never met them in person we quote them all the time as in: "They say that (fill in the blank) is the cause of all (fill in the blank.)"
So until I find out exactly who '"they" are, I guess I'll just have to suck it up until someone in TV land decides to stop making dads look like the south end of a northward headed donkey.
But if I'm going to be completely honest, I can't blame it entirely on the elusive "they."
I think us dads brought some of it on ourselves.
Think about it for a minute.
How many times have we asked our kids rhetorical questions that, if they answered them correctly, would not have boded well for either of us.
I'm thinking about the questions every dad asks that should never be answered. Questions like:
How many times have I told you not to do that? (Possible kid answer: "Eleven.")
Do you want me to give you something to cry about? (Possible kid answer: "No, I'm crying just fine at the moment thank you very much.")
Do you want me to take off my belt? (Possible kid answer: "Only if the neighbors would get a kick out of seeing the boxers we got you last Father's Day.")
Or (my favorite) -
What do I look like, an idiot? (Possible kid answer: "Well, now that you mention it, Dad, when you wear your plaid shorts with that Gators t-shirt you do look kinda like an…")
And speaking of goofy outfits. Why do so many of us dads insist on wearing them when we grill outdoors?
Or better yet, why do so many of us who have never set foot in a kitchen (unless it's to grab a beer out of the fridge or dip a spoon into whatever the wife has simmering on the stove) assume that we can even cook outdoors where temperamental flames, unpredictable wind, stifling heat, fluctuant barometric pressure, and the sight of that tanned and nubile next door neighbor in the size-2 bikini sunning herself by the pool can wreak havoc on our culinary endeavors?
I'll tell you why.
Because men like fire and men like to burn things.
In a recently published study by the National Conference of Those Who Study Such Things, male arsonists were shown to outnumber female arsonists by a margin of 6 to 1. The only other categories where males outshine their female counterparts? Misplacing the remote control (10 to 1), refusing to ask for directions when lost (97 to 1) and scratching their own crotch (when the numbers jump to a mind-boggling 13,478 to 1.)
So yes. Give us dads a Weber grill, a 25-pound bag of charcoal, a quart of lighter fluid, a hunk of meat, and a couple of six-packs in the fridge and we will occupy ourselves for the better part of the afternoon. Let us invite some pals over and we'll make a whole day of it.
Then we'll knock back some beers, suck in our stomachs (to impress Ms. Tanned and Nubile next door) and complement one another on the killer fire we've created while we scratch our crotches and watch the wives run for the fire extinguisher.
Man, I think I'm digging the hole deeper here. I'd better stop before I get myself into more trouble.
I mean, what do I look like, an idiot?
Don't answer that...
Best Friggin' Brat Recipe Ever
At one time I figured brats were easy to make. Heck, they're just hot dogs on steroids, right? So all you need to do is rip open the package, hurl those babies onto the grill and cook 'em just short of incineration. Simple as that!
Boy was I wrong.
In order to cook brats the right way I had to go to the source: Wisconsin. Milwaukee to be exact. Because the Poles who settled there know their brats like we Irish know our whisky.
I got this recipe from a big burly guy with a wooden leg and an ill-fitting glass eye by the name of Krzysztof Dworaczyk. He was running a stainless steel brat stand on a busy corner down in Lincoln Village. I didn't have much money on me so I asked if he would be willing to swap a brat or two and his recipe for some vowels.
He smiled and said, "Hand 'em over."
So I pulled out a fistful of A's, I's and U's and swapped 'em for a warm lunch and this recipe.
Either that or I glommed it from an old cookbook or some other blase' source.
At any rate, it rocks...
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 1 hour
- 8 good brats. (If you can get them from your butcher, great. If not,
Johnsonville is a good national brand. Just be sure they are not pre-cooked.
- 2 Spanish or sweet onions (Vidalia's) peeled and sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 cans (or bottles) of amber beer - none of that lite or lo-cal crap
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 8 brat buns
1. Preheat outdoor grill.
2. Melt 6 tablespoons unsalted butter in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 an onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté an addition 2 minutes. Add the brats, salt and beer and bring to a slow boil.
3. Quickly lower heat (you don't want the casings to split) and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered.
4. In the meantime, heat remaining butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining onion slices and sauté until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes.
5. Remove brats from pot and grill over medium heat until nicely brown, about 10 minutes or so.
6. Serve on buns with sautéed onions and plenty of good beer.