Simple Sides: Red, White & Blue Potato Grill Packet!
Children in this country consume an estimated 12 percent of their calories from fast food, and 20 percent of all American meals are eaten in the car! The consequences are predictably unhealthy. Competing schedules in the day-to-day lives of a busy modern family make it difficult to share a home-cooked meal together, but not impossible. In fact, with a bit of planning, cooking together can become a fun family event and learning opportunity. This feature will focus on providing a child or a group of children, working together under the supervision of an adult, with one uncomplicated, healthy, and delicious side dish recipe. The dishes will be centered on seasonal fresh produce items; the recipes will always contain tasks that will allow even the youngest kitchen helper to contribute to the family meal. Parents should always read through each recipe carefully to judge the division of labor based on age and ability and to identify where adult attention might be needed.
Many of the recipes presented here will seem very basic; this is by design. We hope these simple preparations will provide the culinary foundation and confidence to inspire kids to try more challenging recipes as their experience and confidence in the kitchen develops. Melissa’s encourages parents to find the time to gather as a family unit at least once a week for a dinner that everyone pitches in to prepare. It’s a wonderful way to teach a child basic culinary skills, and, more importantly, cooking with your children will build memories in all your hearts forever. “No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing” – Julia Child.
This month’s Memorial Day weekend signals the start of the grilling season. While the family meal may center around a bed of hot coals on this holiday, your kitchen helpers can still contribute to the festivities as their culinary education moves to the backyard. So, here’s a nifty potato grilling packet recipe all decked out in red, white and blue that the kids can safely prepare on a hot grill. This recipe starts in the kitchen with the usual countertop slicing, dicing and measuring— basic tasks that will help hone several culinary skills. Everything gets wrapped up in a tidy foil packet and handed off to be finished on the grill, right alongside whatever is sizzling on the barby as the main course. The savory combination of roasted grapes and potatoes will pair nicely with just about any fish, fowl or meat!
As the recipe suggests, the supervising adult should parboil the potatoes to speed up the prep time. Once the potatoes have cooled, an older child can practice slicing them into bite-sized pieces and chopping up the shallots. Even the very youngest of helpers can be put to work by removing the grapes from the stems and measuring out some of the seasonings.
The grapes are an unusual ingredient to pair with potatoes. They’re designed to keep young sous chefs engaged and teach them that creativity in the kitchen can be as simple as…well, as simple as adding grapes to a potato dish! The cooked grapes lend a rich flavor boost and an interesting sauce-like texture that elevates this rather simple dish. The packet can be made ahead and refrigerated until the coals are ready. Of course, the ingredients for this dish can just as easily be spread on a roasting pan and popped in the oven, but where’s the fun in that? Making the grilling packet is more entertaining for the kids, and the process of cooking the whole meal on the grill makes for a fun family collaboration. Include a “BIG REVEAL” by carefully peeling back the foil tableside to showcase a platter of steaming hot grapes and potatoes. And let your young cooks take a bow for their hard work!
Potato Grill Packet
1 pound Melissa’s Red White and Blue Potato Medley, par-boiled and cooled
2 cups red seedless grapes, stemmed, whole
3 shallots, sliced
2 teaspoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 handful rosemary sprigs
1 handful parsley
1 stick butter, sliced into thick patties
heavy duty foil [for packet]
What the supervising adult should do
To speed up prep, parboil and cool the potatoes before your helpers arrive in the kitchen. The foil packet can be prepared ahead and refrigerated until ready for the hot grill. Likewise, once done, the pouch can be moved to the side of the grill to keep warm until serving time. In fact, handle anything that has to do with this packet and the open flames!
What the kids can do
Chop the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Peel and slice the shallots. Place them in a medium bowl with the grapes, olive oil, garlic powder, parsley, salt and pepper to taste— mix thoroughly.
Place the mixture on a large sheet of foil that can fold up on the sides. Add the rosemary sprigs and spread the butter, cut into thin patties, on top. Fold over the sides and seal the seams. Poke several holes in the packet with a fork to allow steam to escape.
Place the packet directly on the grill grates and cook for 25 to 30 minutes until tender. The exact timing depends on the size of the pieces and the grill’s temperature.
When the potatoes are cooked through, carefully transfer the entire packet to a plater, peel back the foil carefully and serve family-style.