There’s nothing that gets me jazzed up for warm weather more than preparing the grill for the upcoming grilling season! There’s next to nothing I don’t try to prepare on my grill. You’ll find the staple lineup of meats you’d discover on any Iowa family’s grill, of course. However, I love to surprise and delight with grilled seafood of any kind, marinated, grilled veggies and, for dessert, grilled stone fruits to serve with cinnamon ice cream and a drizzle of honey.

There are a few easy steps to give your grill a once over before the busy season. First, with a bucket of hot soapy water, scrub the outside of the grill lid, and side tables. This may take a few swings, and I promise it’ll be easier if you use hot water and dish soap that handles grease well. Once you are pleased with your work, dry the grill off and spray it with glass cleaner. Wipe down the unit with clean towels for a nice, streak-free finish.

Get your grill cleaned up and ready for all the spring and summer treats coming your way, including General Bacon Cheeseburgers. (Cristen Clark, Special to Agweek)
Get your grill cleaned up and ready for all the spring and summer treats coming your way, including General Bacon Cheeseburgers. (Cristen Clark, Special to Agweek)
Step two in the cleaning process will focus on cleaning the interior of the grill, grates and all. First, fire up your grill to high heat and scrub grates with a wire brush. This is the only time of the year I really use wire brushes on my grill because I get nervous I’ll serve one in a burger!

Turn off grill burners. Shut the unit and let it cool down to the touch. Make sure gas lines are off and unhook propane tank. In a clean, large plastic tote or mineral tub, add plenty of grease fighting dish soap and hot water.

Remove grill grates and grease dripping pan and soak for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, scrub the interior of the grill using the wire brush and steel wool. Wipe down interior of the grill with hot soapy water. Open the doors to the cabinet area below and give that area a quick clean too. Rinse grates with clean water and wipe down interior with clean water and rags. When clean, hook everything back up.

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We always break in the grill every year with a classic burger. My family likes to add bacon to their cheeseburgers, and almost everyone eats this Bacon Cheeseburger plain. The recipe boasts a 1/3 pound burger on a soft bakery bun with thick-cut bacon. Welcome, spring and summer!

For more of Cristen Clark's Food and Swine recipes, click here.

Generous Bacon Cheeseburgers

(Cristen Clark, Special to Agweek)
(Cristen Clark, Special to Agweek)

Serves 6

Ingredients:

3 pounds ground beef (we use 80/20)

1 tablespoon Lawry’s seasoned salt

1½ teaspoon Cavender’s Greek Seasoning

2 pounds thick-cut bacon, cooked until chewy-crisp

6 slices of American cheese

6 soft bakery-style hamburger buns

Condiments:

Ketchup, mustard, pickles, lettuce, tomato, onion

Ingredients:

Shape ground beef gently into six patties, flattening them to be larger than the bun size by at least one inch.

Season each side of the burger patty with ¼ teaspoon of Lawry’s and one side of the patty with ¼ teaspoon Cavender’s. This is a family tradition!

Preheat grill to 450 F.

Grill burgers until internal temperature reaches 160 F, tossing cheese slices on burgers during last minutes of grilling so they will melt.

Serve burgers on a bun with two slices of bacon and condiments.

Cristen Clark lives on an Iowa farm where her family raises corn, soybeans, pigs and cattle. She loves cooking and writing, and sharing contest winning recipes with people she knows. She can be reached at cristen@foodandswine.com or at foodandswine.com.