Father’s Day may not be a “day off” for Eustis resident Glenn Phillips.
He likely will be grilling, but not solo. Angling for a position right behind the rotisserie will be his beautiful daughters, Mackenzie, 13, and Kendall, 8.
His daughters are jurors, and they are excited about rendering a final verdict whether the meat is tender, tasty and ready to be devoured.
“We’re the taste testers and taste committee,” said Kendall, a second-grade student at Mount Dora Christian Academy.
More often than not, Glenn passes the test with flying colors. After all, his prime rib roast, chicken and salmon almost always are cooked to perfection. More importantly, grilling in the family’s large screened-in summer kitchen represents one of the most heartfelt ways a father can bond with his children on this special day. Not only are they making a delicious meal while huddled around the grill; they’re also making wonderful memories while playing children’s games in the backyard.
These special moments get Glenn’s juices flowing. That’s why grilling has become a proud tradition in the Phillips’ household.
“My girls will only be young once, but I can work for the rest of my life,” said Glenn, owner of G. Phillips Homes in Eustis. “I want to make special memories with my daughters right now, and those memories don’t always have to come in the form of vacations or elaborate birthday parties. With grilling, we can make those memories right in the comfort of our home.”
The grilling gurus make it an all-day affair. As chicken and salmon cook in the smoker and prime rib roast rotates on a rotisserie grill, they venture out into their 1-acre backyard for some fun and games. Glenn tosses them a football, jumps with them on a trampoline, pushes them on a swing and chases them while playing tag. He also teaches them the finer points of hitting a softball or running precise wide receiver routes.
This certainly beats slaving in the kitchen for hours and creating a mess that would require extensive cleaning afterward. Plus, Mackenzie and Kendall love seeing their father channel his inner child.
“My Dad is so much fun to be around,” said Mackenzie, a seventh-grade student at Eustis Middle School. “I enjoy going outside and getting some exercise with him and Kendall. It also makes time pass much faster because we’re all anxiously waiting to eat the meat.”
When the family gathers at the dinner table, Kendall, a blond-haired, blue-eyed cutie pie, typically has one complaint. In actuality, it’s a testament to her father’s grilling ability.
“My daddy cuts the meat and puts it on my plate,” she said. “I always ask him, ‘Is that all I’m getting?’”
The fun doesn’t stop once the eating begins. Sometimes, Glenn and his daughters use an extendable, telescopic fork to steal pieces of meat off each other’s plates. Fortunately, everybody realizes it’s all in good fun. Glenn also likes injecting an educational component into the dinnertime discussion.
“I let my girls know that we’re enjoying a restaurant-quality meal,” said Glenn, who purchases most of his meat from Publix. “Then, we’ll compare prices of how much our meal costs to how much it would’ve cost to go out and eat. There’s a learning value to all this, and I want them to appreciate the fact we can eat an outstanding meal at home while spending less money.”
For Glenn’s wife, Wendy Lyn, it’s heartwarming to see the strong father-daughter bond.
“Glenn has instilled a strong work ethic in both of our children,” she said. “We want them to understand that everyday tasks in life can be fun when you do things together. The more moments we spend together the stronger we become as a family.”
Dads, even though Father’s Day is your day, it certainly won’t kill you to dust off the patio table and fire up the grill. So, instead of popping open a few beers and lounging in your recliner, include your kids in a memorable backyard barbecue. After all, it’s the time of the year when backyard grilling is in full swing.
If you follow these cooking simple tips offered by Glenn, your kids will consider you a wonderful father and grill master.
1. Set the meat out and bring it to room temperature. Once the meat is at room temperature, cover it in olive oil.
2. Rub it with Montreal Steak seasoning. Cook the meat on a rotisserie grill at about 225 degrees for nearly three hours.
3. Use a digital thermometer so you can have an accurate measure for safety and doneness.
6. Always pull the meat off the rotisserie at 135 degrees because the meat continues cooking even after off the grill.
7. If someone wants his or her meat more done, extract juice from that piece of meat and put the juice in a saucepan. Then put the piece of meat in the saucepan to cook it more and keep it moister.
1. Brine in a saltwater mixture for four hours.
2. The chicken should be spatchcocked, which requires removing its backbone. This opens up the chicken and exposes the meat to the smoke for flavor.
3. Add salt and paprika.
4. Smoke the chicken for two-and-a-half to three hours or until it reaches 165 degrees.
1. Add olive oil and paprika.
2. Put lemon pepper on one-half of the fish and red pepper flakes on the other.
3. Smoke the fish at 145 degrees.
4. Cook between an hour and an hour-and-a-half.
5. Meat should be flaky and easily break apart with a fork.
PHOTOS: James Combs