Grilling is a favorite method of cooking for many people. Men, especially, seem drawn to the open flame. To help you enjoy your summer, remember these tips for safe grilling the next time you fire up the grill.
· When shopping, choose meat and poultry last. Be sure not to put them in the trunk. The temperature is too hot and bacteria will grow rapidly. Don’t leave meat out of the refrigerator or cooler for longer than one hour during warm weather. If meat is out too long, bacteria can produce toxins that can cause illness and stay active even during cooking.
· Refrigerate meat and poultry as soon as you get home.
· Purchase ground meat or poultry no more than a day or two before you plan to grill it. Otherwise, freeze it. Grill larger cuts of meat, such as steaks, within 4 days of purchase or freeze them.
· Completely thaw meat and poultry in the refrigerator or just prior to cooking in a microwave. Frozen foods do not grill evenly and may be unsafe. Never thaw on the counter — bacteria will begin to grow. It usually takes about 24 hours to thaw 5 pounds of meat in the refrigerator.
· Clean up juice spills immediately so a raw product does not get on a cooked product. Juice spills should be cleaned with a paper towel. If using a dishcloth to wipe up raw meat or poultry juices, wash it in hot soapy water before using it again as bacteria can multiply on the cloth.
· Marinate meat and poultry in the refrigerator. Sauce can be brushed on these foods while cooking, but never use the same sauce after cooking that has touched the raw product.
· Make ground beef patties about ½-inch thick by 4 inches in diameter (4 ounces or 4 patties per pound). This helps assure they cook thoroughly and evenly. This size patty will take 11 to 13 minutes to cook to a safe temperature of 160 degrees F.
· Unwashed hands are a leading cause of food-borne illness. Whenever possible, wash your hands with hot, soapy water for 20 seconds before handling food. When eating away from home, pack disposable wipes for cleaning hands if no handwashing facilities are available.
· Transport meat and poultry to a picnic site in a cooler kept cold with ice or frozen gel packs. Pack food and cooler immediately before leaving home. Open the cooler only when necessary. Pack beverages in one cooler and perishables in another.
· Keep cooler in an air-conditioned vehicle for transporting and then keep in the shade or shelter at the picnic site. Remove only the amount of food that will fit on the grill at one time. Be sure to keep raw meat and poultry separate from cooked foods, or foods meant to be eaten raw such as fruits and vegetables.
· Be sure to clean the grill before grilling. Heat the grill to kill microorganisms before placing food on it.
· Cook ground beef patties until brown in the middle and juices are clear (160 degrees F). A hamburger can be brown in the middle and still be undercooked. The most accurate way to determine internal temperature is with an instant-read thermometer.
· The USDA recommends ground meats should be heated to 160 degrees F to kill microorganisms while the temperature for a steak can be 145 degrees F for “medium rare.” A “medium” steak is cooked to 160 degrees F and a “well done” steak is cooked to 170 degrees F. Use tongs or spatula to turn steaks rather than a fork which punctures the meat and introduces surface bacteria into the interior of the meat.
· Whole poultry should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees F in the thigh. Breast meat should be cooked to 170 degrees F. When poultry is done cooking, juices will run clear with no pink when you cut into the meat.
· If you’re preparing steaks, ground meat and/or poultry at the same time, use a different knife, utensil or thermometer to check for doneness. For example, don’t use the same thermometer to test steaks you used for hamburgers. Remember to wash thermometers in hot soapy water and hot rinse water before and after use.
· Adding sauces or spices to meat may make it look brown before it is done. Brush or sprinkle sauces/spices on the surface of cooked burgers.
· Cook meat and poultry completely at the picnic site. Partial cooking of foods ahead of time allows bacteria to survive and multiply to the point that further cooking may not destroy them.
· Use clean tongs or spatula for removing meat or poultry from the grill and place on a clean plate to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked meat.
· Discard any food left out for more than two hours or one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees F. When in doubt, throw it out.
Source: United State Department of Agriculture, Montana Cooperative Extension
Herbed Barbecue Chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the first 10 ingredients. Add chicken. Seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Coat grill with nonstick cooking spray before starting the grill. Drain and discard marinade. Grill chicken, covered, over medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes on each side until temperature reaches 170 degrees F. and juices run clear.
Beef on a Stick
1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 boneless beef top sirloin steak (1 ½ pounds) cut into 1 inch cubes
In a large resealable bag, combine the first eight ingredients. Add beef. Seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 9 hours or overnight.
Coat grill rack with cooking spray before starting the grill. Drain and discard marinade. Thread beef onto six metal skewers. Grill, uncovered, over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until meat reaches desired doneness, turning kabobs occasionally.
Sandra R. Cain is the Bladen County Extension director. She can be reached at email@example.com or 910-862-4591.