The end of summer doesn’t mean you need to head indoors to cook your meals. The ease of operating gas grills ensures that grilling is a great way to prepare a meal any time of year, and seasonal food can inspire grillers to try new recipes.
“Each grilling season offers new ingredients to incorporate in dishes,” says award-winning chef, restaurateur, and “My New Orleans: The Cookbook” author John Besh, adding that outdoor meal preparation is one way to keep busy families connected even as school and activities fill the family calendar.
Get the whole family involved
“Memories are made in the kitchen, whether it’s indoors or outdoors,” says Besh, a father of four. “Mealtime is family time, and I love cooking with my wife and sons. It’s something we do together year-round.”
Involving younger family members in menu planning and grocery shopping gives parents the opportunity to spend time with their children, while teaching them proper food preparation. Kids who usually avoid domestic chores may even find that chopping vegetables, mixing marinades and assembling toppings is more fun when the “kitchen” is outdoors.
Put safety first
Besh proudly passes down family recipes while teaching his sons the importance of safety in the kitchen – and in the backyard. “Cooking with my sons enables me to demonstrate proper food preparation and grill safety,” he says.
Parents who involve children in outdoor meal preparation can become role models themselves by brushing up on the steps to safe grilling. Tips from the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) on using gas grills include the following:
- Read all the grill manufacturer’s instructions before turning on and lighting the grill.
- Keep the top of the grill open until you are sure the grill is lit, even if you have an electronic ignition.
- Make sure the area around the grill is free of leaves or anything else that could ignite and keep the grill at least 10 feet away from your house or any structure.
Experiment with seasonal ingredients
One of Besh’s favorite ways to entertain family and friends is preparing homemade pizzas on the grill. “It’s a delicious way to experiment with seasonal ingredients, and grilling allows even novice cooks to achieve the crisp crust and smoky flavor of gourmet pizza at home,” he says.
To celebrate the fall harvest, Besh offers his signature grilled pizza recipe: acorn squash, pear and bacon with fontina cheese. Home cooks can start with ready-made pizza dough or visit www.usepropane.com for Besh’s easy homemade dough recipe. Besh also invites parents to substitute the family’s favorite ingredients or local in-season varieties.
For additional safe grilling tips, family activity checklists, recipes and more, visit www.usepropane.com.
John Besh’s Grilled Fall Harvest Pizza
Serves four to six
12 ounces pizza dough
1/2 acorn squash, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1/4 pound grated fontina cheese
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 sprig rosemary, chopped
1 ripe pear, cored and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/4 pound sliced bacon, cooked until crisp
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
While waiting for the pizza dough to rise, rub the acorn squash slices with 1 tablespoon olive oil and grill over medium heat for five minutes on each side or until the squash has softened. Season with salt and pepper and let cool. Spread dough over oiled sheet tray or pizza pan. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary and crushed red pepper flakes. Crumble bacon over dough, then add grilled squash, fontina cheese and sliced pears. Place onto grill rack, close lid and cook for a few minutes, then reduce heat to low flame and cook for another three to five minutes until cheese has melted and crust is crisp and golden.