Oak Park dad has barbecue system timed perfectly
Rich Klevgard prepares a roast for smoking and barbecue. The Oak Park dad's recipe is a favorite among his family and friends. | Melissa Elsmo~for Sun-Times Media
Rich’s Key Spices for Barbeque Rubs
Rich Klevgard suggests developing your own signature blend of dried herbs and spices for meat rubs. He doesn’t measure anything and considers marjoram, coriander and coffee essential ingredients in any bold flavored spice mix.
Rich mixes his spices just before applying it to various meats, but you can mix a larger quantity and store it in an airtight container at room temperature, but use your spice rub within a month to ensure peak flavor and freshness. Make your own combination of:
*These are the cornerstone of any good barbecue rub; use them in larger quantities than the others in this list to ensure traditional flavor.
No Smoker? No Worries!
Even if you don’t own a smoker you can make a mouthwatering pork shoulder with ease.
Rub a bone-in pork shoulder with your signature spice blend and refrigerate it over night. Place the seasoned shoulder (fat side up) in a roasting pan, cover tightly with foil and place in a 250 degree oven for 8-10 hours.
The finished meat can be shredded for sandwiches or served in chunks on its own; pair it with your favorite BBQ sauce and a batch of Rich’s summer kale salad for a memorable Father’s Day treat!
Updated: July 15, 2012 3:05PM
“I guess this is me in motion,” laughs Rich Klevgard, as he accidentally overflows a bottle of his homemade barbecue sauce onto his kitchen counter.
The Oak Park dad who is an avid cook wipes up the spill in a flash and returns his attention to a multi-ingredient dry rub and hefty pork shoulder waiting on a nearby butcher’s block. After pontificating about the happy marriage between marjoram and pork for a few moments, Klevgard has covered the entire roast with his signature dry rub and is already heading out to his back yard smoker to ready the fire and cook his roast over the next nine hours.
Cooking by instinct, multitasking, and remaining adaptable in the kitchen allow Klevgard to make the most of limited time.
“I revel in the fact that I can coach a baseball game today at 4:00 p.m. and know this roast will be smoking at the same time,” says Klevgard.
His perfectly seasoned and lovingly smoked roast will feed his family and friends throughout the week. Low and slow cooking is one of the keys to keeping his family life in constant motion.
And Klevgard’s life has been in constant motion since giving up his career as an information architect in 2001 to care for his young sons, Max and Sam, full time. He used to shove baby supplies into the pockets of his cargo shorts in order to avoid carrying a diaper bag. Today, Klevgard continues to parent with his own brand of masculine energy right down to the dishes he serves at his family table.
“I always tell him to fuel his creative side and cook what he loves,” says wife Diane, “and it is always delicious!”
Diane holds down a time-consuming full-time job and knows how lucky she is. “Having Rich in the kitchen means our entire family is actually going to eat dinner as a family.”
Klevgard has been smoking his own meat for well over a decade, but his obsession with southern barbecue traces back to his boyhood boarding school days in Chattanooga, Tenn.
“My friends and I would spend an afternoon playing soccer to work up a good appetite before heading out to enjoy some of the best barbecue I’ve ever tasted.”
The meals he and his friends enjoyed at various hole-in-the-wall establishments inspire Klevgard in the kitchen to this very day. Each time Klevgard fires up his smoker he is attempting to recreate those vivid childhood memories.
“Sometimes it is close and sometimes it isn’t, but either way dinner is usually pretty good,” he says.
Klevgard’s eldest son, Max, now 14, favors his dad’s smoked pork ribs with homemade sauce. “When I celebrate my birthday at school my friends want me to bring my dad’s ribs rather than cupcakes,” says Max with a smile.
Between balancing multiple carpools, hectic sports schedules, and dense homework loads, Klevgard only stops his constant motion when his family gathers around the table to enjoy a meal together.
“The only time I feel like I can take a breath is when we are at the family table” Klevgard muses, “and I think it is amazing that my sweat and labor in the kitchen can bring us all together everyday.”
“When we have dinner we all have a really great time because we talk, we laugh and we eat,” 12-year-old Sam gushes. “That’s because my dad is a really great cook and a great guy!”
Take a lesson from Rich Klevgard and serve up some memorable and manly fare this Father’s Day. I can’t think of a more perfect way to celebrate the positive influence of fathers everywhere.
Summer Kale Salad
Makes 6-8 side dish servings.
Rich Klevgard developed this healthy salad in response to provide a meal or a friend in need. I riffed on his loose recipe for this side dish that pairs beautifully with smoky barbequed meats and a slightly sweet sauce. Be sure to season as you go when making this piquant salad; adding salt and pepper in intervals is the key to balancing this dish.
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch of kale greens, stems removed and shredded
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 large lemon, halved
2 yellow summer squash (small), cut into ribbons with a vegetable peeler*
2 green zucchini (small), medium dice
15-ounce can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
3 Tablespoons ider vinegar
½ cup cilantro, chopped
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
Heat olive oil in a medium size sauté pan until a single kale strand crackles when dropped into pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the shredded kale (the kale will sputter when it hits the oil. Hood the pan with a lid to avoid getting burned). When kale begins to wilt, add the minced garlic and the juice of 1/2 lemon (reserve the other half to finish dish). Season with salt and pepper. Place a lid over the pile of greens in the sauté pan and allow to wilt for about 6 minutes. Remove the lid and add the squash, zucchini, beans, and vinegar. Mix well, season with salt and pepper, cover and increase heat to med. Allow mixture to cook for about 5 minutes.
Transfer the vegetable to a large serving bowl and mix in the cilantro, parmesan cheese and juice of the remaining lemon half. Adjust seasoning and serve warm or refrigerate to serve cold later.
* Feel free to dice the yellow squash like the zucchini, but cutting the squash into ribbons like Rich suggests, adds nice texture to the dish.
Melissa Elsmo is an Oak Park mom, wife and chef/foodie. She speaks regularly about reclaiming the family dinner hour with nutritious meals. Check out her food blog at www.outofmelskitchen.blogspot.com.