Last summer, I experienced the magic of an outdoor brick oven during a month’s stay in Italy. For a casual weekend dinner party, our countryside cottage’s oven cooked up tantalizing summer-ripened vegetables, homemade pizza, savory polenta, even delectable desserts. One Italian friend joked, “Hey, who does a barbecue better: the Texans or the Tuscans?”
I dared not answer. But I did challenge myself to recreate the experience at home, in light of the American grilling renaissance that’s catching like wildfire. The Italians offered fresh inspiration for expanding our classic chicken-and-burgers barbecue. The great Italian cookout is a simple yet sophisticated take on the burning love for good food we share.
All you need to wow a crowd or prepare a no-fuss weeknight dinner are vibrant ingredients, disposable pans, and some imagination. Light up, stand back, and be dazzled as your charcoal or gas grill transforms from a tired cooking tool to an altar of rekindled food celebration.
By Kristine Gasbarre, a food writer in DuBois, Penn.