A Simple Guide to Grilling!

by  Staci O’Connor MS, RD, CDN

Grilling season is in full swing!  Grilling is a quick cooking method over a relatively hot fire and is best used for small cuts of meat such as:  steak, chicken breast, burgers, fruits and vegetables, and even pizza.  Grilling vegetables is easy but they do need some form of fat to achieve sufficient browning, so instead of bathing them in oil try a simple vinaigrette such as a lemon vinaigrette to provide not only additional flavor but to help the seasoning adhere to the vegetables.  Barbecuing, on the other hand, involves slow roasting of larger cuts of meat such as:  shoulders, legs, and ribs and is done over indirect heat using hardwood or charcoal and smoke.

Make sure that you have proper grilling tools such as: a good grill brush, sturdy tongs, and a stiff spatula.  In order to prevent food from sticking, make sure to preheat the grill grate until hot, clean thoroughly with the grill brush, and then oil the grate.  Grilling, more than barbecuing requires constant monitoring.  The goal is to have even cooking and nice caramelization.

Be aware that as grilling picks up so does the risk for food poisoning.  Make sure to wash your hands before, during, and after handling food(s) outside.  Keep raw meats and ready-to-eat foods separate.  Cook to proper temperatures.  Refrigerate promptly to 40° F or below.  Be sure to scrub the grill, outdoor utensils, coolers, and other containers with hot soapy water before cooking.  Stick to paper towels or wipes to clean up spills and dishtowels for clean dishes and clean hands.  Keep raw meats and ready-to-eat foods separate.  Use separate plates and utensils to handle raw foods and another set for cooked foods in order to prevent cross-contamination.  Wash all utensils in warm soapy water in between use.  When marinating meats, do not use the same brush to baste raw and cooked meats.  Always use a separate or just-washed brush to marinate raw and cooked meats and boil any leftover marinade before using it to season cooked meats.  One of the most important summer tools is a food thermometer so that you can make sure that food has been cooked to the proper temperature.  Steaks should be cooked to at least 145° F, hamburgers 160° F and chicken 165° F.

Foods that are meant to stay cold should be cold so make sure to stock plenty of ice / ice packs to keep foods at temperatures below 40° F.  Use a refrigerator thermometer in your cooler to make sure that foods are stored at proper temperatures.  Transport food in the air-conditioned back seat of your car instead of the hot trunk and once outside try to keep food in the shade and out of direct sunlight.  Remember the two or one-hour rule.  As temperatures go up, the amount of time that perishable foods can remain out of refrigeration goes down.  While foods typically follow the two-hour rule, in hot weather (90° F or above) this time is cut in half to one hour.  Try to remember to keep foods on ice and consider setting a kitchen timer or the alarm on your cell phone to remind you when food should be refrigerated.

Resource:  www.todaysdietitian.com

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