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Enjoy Some Great Summertime Grilling Tips


UPDATE: The following is an article written by Calhoun County Insight.  Learn more Insight at:

It’s that time of year again when we all break out the grill and enjoy some amazing food. Here are some tips for your spring and summer time grilling.

Clean It Like You Mean It

Cleaning a grill before and after use can help to ensure the safest food environment. It’s important to scrape down grill grates to clear off potentially harmful residue that builds up over time and reduce exposure to bacteria growth. Coffee, because it’s acidic, can help cut cooked-on grease in a snap. Plus, since it’s something many of us ingest anyway, it’s a healthy alternative to other common grill cleaning products, such as ammonia.

Two other tried-and-true non-chemical cleaning tools are a stiff wire grill brush and tongs. Carefully brush down the grates while they’re still hot — and the grease and any food particles are loose. Then, wad up a piece of paper towel dampened with a little vegetable oil (that’ll keep it from burning). Use tongs to rub the towel along the grill grates to pick up any remaining particles. If you’re in need of a good de-gunking before cooking (and maybe you forgot to clean the grill after the last use) preheat for 15 minutes, then scrape and employ the paper towel method.

Tongs, Spatula, Fork

Use a tongs or a spatula to turn the food. A fork should not be used because it pierces the food allowing juices to escape. This is especially important when cooking meat. Hamburger patties should be turned with a spatula.

Cut Cross Contamination

Tongs, check. Spatula, check. Though a grill set generally includes only one of each utensil, there are two easy and important ways to cut down on cross contamination, or when juices from raw meats make contact with ready-to-eat foods. When placing uncooked meat on the grill, either wash utensils thoroughly with hot, soapy water before using them again to remove the cooked meat, or have a second set of clean utensils on hand.

By the same token, use two separate plates — one for raw food, one for cooked — to prevent foodborne illness. And if you have leftover marinade, make sure to boil it if you plan on reusing it after it made contact with raw meat. Even easier — make extra marinade to douse on cooked food rather than save the initial liquid.

Fight Flare-Ups

To reduce flare-ups, which can expose the air and your food to those carcinogens, start by cutting down on fat. An easy way to decrease the amount of fat making it’s way on the grill is to choose leaner cuts of meat, such as loin, round, flank or boneless and skinless, and trim off any visible fat. Ditch any extra marinade, too. Pouring it over meat may cause spillover, resulting in a flare-up. If flames do reach meat and create charred portions, trim and discard those bits before eating.

Preheat For Longer Than You’d Think

Heat up that grill for 20 to 30 minutes before cooking to kill off bacteria and other pathogens leftover from past grill sessions to reduce the chances of foodborne illness. Though it’s easy to believe a little cook time on the almighty grill will destroy any scary stuff, a British study found the average grill contained twice as many germs as a toilet seat

Large Cuts

Large cuts of meat benefit from grilling with indirect heat because the meat remains tender and juicy and the risk of overcooking the meat is reduced. If grilling a thick cut of meat, it is beneficial to sear all sides of the meat over direct heat. The meat is placed directly over the area above the hot charcoal and is turned with a tongs. Utensils that pierce the meat, such as a large fork, should not be used because piercing the meat will allow juices to escape, toughening the meat. Searing the meat for three or four minutes is often adequate for producing a flavorful crust and contributing to a tender, juicy result when the grilling is complete.

Season Before Grilling

You might have heard that salt “bleeds” the juices out of raw meat: It doesn’t. Instead, it helps steaks form a savory crust as they cook. Just before putting the steaks on the grill, sprinkle on a generous amount of coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Let It Rest

When you grill a piece of meat, its muscle fibers contract and drive the juices to the center of the cut. Meat served right off the grill will taste tough and dry, but a post-grill rest allows the muscle fibers to reabsorb the juices, resulting in a tender and succulent cut. Larger pieces of meat, like leg of lamb and pork shoulder, need to rest longer than steaks and chops—for approximately 15 minutes.

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