Northeast Times

Tips for grilling outdoors

Grilling is a sum­mer tra­di­tion.

Dur­ing the sum­mer, many people en­joy cookouts with fam­ily and friends. Grilling out­doors is par­tic­u­larly pop­u­lar in my home state of Texas.

While cook­ing out­doors is a won­der­ful way to pre­pare tasty, de­li­cious dishes from meats to ve­get­ables to desserts, it can be haz­ard­ous to your health if cer­tain safety guidelines aren’t fol­lowed. Here are some tips for safe grilling: 

Pre­par­ing Meats for the Grill:

• Buy ground meat and poultry no more than one to two days in ad­vance. If it is go­ing to be longer, freeze them. Lar­ger cuts of meat, like steaks, should be grilled or frozen with­in four days of pur­chase. 

• Thaw frozen meat in the re­fri­ger­at­or or mi­crowave be­fore grilling. Meat thawed in the mi­crowave must be cooked im­me­di­ately. Food should nev­er be thawed on the counter. 

• Mar­in­ate meat and poultry in the re­fri­ger­at­or. Dur­ing grilling, avoid brush­ing the food with mar­in­ade that touched the raw meat.

• Wash your hands be­fore and after hand­ling raw meat and poultry.

• Ham­burger pat­ties should be made about 1/2-inch thick and 4 inches in dia­met­er to help them cook fully and evenly.

Trans­port­ing:

• Trans­port meat and poultry in a cool­er with ice, and pack the cool­er just be­fore leav­ing. Open the cool­er as little as pos­sible. 

• In or­der to pre­vent cross-con­tam­in­a­tion, raw meat and poultry should be kept sep­ar­ate from cooked foods and foods eaten raw, like fruits and ve­get­ables. Pack drinks in a sep­ar­ate cool­er.

• The cool­er should stay in an air-con­di­tioned car dur­ing trans­port­a­tion and in a shaded spot once you’ve ar­rived. Only take out the amount of food you can grill at one time. 

Grilling:

• To kill mi­croor­gan­isms, scrape and heat the grill be­fore put­ting on the meat or poultry.

• Grilled foods brown on the out­side quickly, so the only way to cor­rectly de­term­ine done­ness is to check the in­tern­al tem­per­at­ure with a ther­mo­met­er. Place the ther­mo­met­er in the thick­est part of the meat — away from bone, fat or gristle — near the end of the cook­ing time. Wash the ther­mo­met­er between test­ing dif­fer­ent meats and be­fore and after each use. 

Re­com­men­ded safe min­im­um in­tern­al tem­per­at­ures are as fol­lows:

145 de­grees F for steaks, roasts and fish

160 F for ground beef and pork

165 F for whole poultry, chick­en pieces or ground pat­ties

• Do not flip steaks with a fork; it can punc­ture the meat and cause bac­teria to get in­side.

• Re­move food from the grill with clean utensils, and put it on a clean serving dish to pre­vent cross-con­tam­in­a­tion.

• Dis­card any food, cooked or un­cooked, left out of re­fri­ger­a­tion for more than two hours, or one hour if the tem­per­at­ure is above 90 F.

Try my re­cipe for Spicy Herb But­ter as a top­ping for your grilled meats, grilled sea­food and ve­get­ables. It makes an 8-inch-long tube of herb but­ter that will keep for up to a month in the freez­er.

Spicy Herb But­ter

1/2 pound un­salted but­ter, softened

1 ta­ble­spoon olive oil

1 ta­ble­spoon plus 2 tea­spoons finely minced green onions, whites and green parts

1 ta­ble­spoon plus 1 tea­spoon freshly squeezed lem­on juice 

1 ta­ble­spoon minced flat-leaf pars­ley leaves 

1 ta­ble­spoon minced oregano leaves

1 tea­spoon kosh­er salt 

1 tea­spoon freshly ground black pep­per 

1/2 tea­spoon cay­enne pep­per

1. In a large bowl, mix the but­ter, oil and all oth­er in­gredi­ents with a rub­ber spat­ula un­til evenly com­bined. Lay about a foot long sec­tion of plastic wrap on a work sur­face. Put the herb but­ter on the bot­tom cen­ter of the plastic wrap, and form in­to a mound about 8 inches long. 

2. Fold the bot­tom edge of the plastic wrap over the but­ter and roll the en­closed but­ter for­ward un­til com­pletely wrapped, form­ing a tube of but­ter about 1-1/2 inches in dia­met­er. Twist the ends to­geth­er like a party fa­vor. Re­fri­ger­ate un­til firm, or freeze for up to 1 month. Sliced as needed and serve atop grilled meat, sea­food or ve­get­ables as de­sired. •••

(Ad­di­tion­al in­form­a­tion provided by Christeena Haynes, MS, RD, LD, Nu­tri­tion and Health Edu­ca­tion Spe­cial­ist, Dal­las County, Uni­versity of Mis­souri Ex­ten­sion.) 

  An­gela Shelf Medear­is is an award-win­ning chil­dren’s au­thor, culin­ary his­tor­i­an and au­thor of sev­en cook­books. Her new cook­book is “The Kit­chen Diva’s Dia­bet­ic Cook­book.” Her web­site is www.di­vapro.com  

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