Labor Day Grilling Tips
Hey, I know you've got the recipes, these are just some tips to make it easier and safer.
YOU WANT TO FEED 'EM, NOT KILL 'EM.
Food safety FIRST, then you can get on to the fun stuff.
- Scrub your hands before you start handling meat.
- Defrost meat only in the refrigerator.
- Keep raw meat separate from cooked food (watch that plate you take the meat out in).
- Wash anything touched by raw meat immediately in soap and water.
- Don't leave side dishes (particularly anything with mayo in it) outside or at room temperature for more than one hour.
A GRILL IS A CONTAINED FIRE.
- Situate your grill in a clear place, away from structures and trees and out of the wind.
- Remove excess fat from meats to prevent dangerous flareups and arrange the coals around a drip pan which is directly below the meat.
- Use tools with long handles.
- Never add lighting fluid to lit coals; it can ignite and cause serious burns.
- Don't get to having such a good time you forget to watch the little ones. Many children are fascinated by fire, so teach your children fire safety and assign a Designated Child Safety Watcher at a large barbecue especially if you're serving alcoholic beverages.
EVEN BOBBIE USES A THERMOMETER.
There are too many variables - wind, weather, cut of meat - so get a good meat thermometer and use it. To test it for accuracy, heat a pan of cold water on high til it boils, which is 212 degrees F. Then place the stem of your thermometer into the water for one minute. If it's properly calibrated, it will read 212 degrees F.
Get a thermometer with a nut on the back of the dial housing so you can calibrate the dial indicator with a pair of pliers. (Source: Traeger-Pellet)
The thermometer should be stuck through the thickest part of the meat away from bones, which conduct heat. Beef should be between 140º (rare) and 170º (well done). Pork should be between 145º-160º. Hamburgers must be 160º. A beef roast is safe at 145º unless it's "rolled" or mechanically tenderized, and then it should be at 160º. Pork roast should be cooked to 160ºF.
A MANLY WAY TO TELL WHEN THE FIRE'S HOT ENOUGH?
Use the palm test. Let the coals heat about 30 minutes, then hold your palm 5" over the fire. If you can hold it there for 2-3 seconds, the fire is hot. 4-5 seconds, it's medium. A full 6 seconds, it's low.
"GRILING DOESN'T MEAN TURNING EVERYTHING 40 TIMES," says Bobbie Flay.
"I use really high heat," Flay says, "turn it once and let a nice crust form. It sears in the flavor and keeps food from sticking." Turning the meat repeatedly cools it down and it "steams". You can also spray your grill with non-stick spray before you start to prevent sticking.
Searing the food seals in the flavor. Don't ever pierce meat with a fork or anything else. It loses tenderness and flavor. Use tongs, not a fork.
WHO SIGNED UP FOR THE CLEANUP COMMITTEE?
It' not a big deal if you clean the grill as soon as you take the food off, while it's still hot. You can just scrape the stuff off and it will burn up. Get a good quality brush with metal bristles.
TIRED OF THE SAME OLD THING?
Try some wood chips or herbs for a distinctive flavor. Soak the chips in water for an hour, then put them over the coals. The Weber folks suggest "earthy mesquite, spicy hickory and sweet cherry wood."
You can also soak and drain herbs (rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme or bay leaves) and sprinkle them over the coals just before you put the food on. mmmm
NOBODY CAN DO IT, NOT EVEN YOU!
Some things fall apart or fall through the grill so why test your luck? Put the fish in a basket (coat it first with oil). If you're making shishkabobs use either very large chunks, or grill it first and then cut it up.
Observe food and fire safety and you can get creative on the grill! Good luck.
Susan Dunn, MA, Psychology, Emotional Intelligence Coach, http://www.susandunn.cc. Coaching, Internet courses and ebooks around emotional intelligence for career, relationships, transitions, resilience, personal and professional development.
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