Have a Safe and Fun Labor Day

My first grill.

Memorial Day and Fourth of July have both come and gone. Back-To-School commercials are now running on TV. That can only mean that Labor Day is right around the corner. Labor Day, to most of us a day to relax with family and friends which to many of us means it’s time to barbecue.  In this article I hope to provide you with some tips to help you make things go smoother and help to protect, not only yourself, but your family and friends as well.

1. Know the type of meat you are grilling. Different types of meat have different temperatures that determine doneness.  For example, you may want to serve a steak grilled to 145° (medium-rare), but you definitely would not want to serve chicken grilled to the same temperature.  It is important to know what temperature the meat you’re cooking needs to be in order to be considered done and safe to eat.  That is why having and using an accurate meat thermometer is so important.

2. Avoid cross contamination. This is important when dealing with any raw meat, but most important with poultry and ground beef or pork.  Wear gloves or wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds immediately after handling raw meat. Do NOT use the same container/platter that had raw meat in it. Do NOT use the same cutting boards used to trim meat or the utensils used in prepping the raw meat once the meat is cooked. Wash them thoroughly after use with raw meats with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of non-scented chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water to sanitize the container/platter, cutting boards, utensils, etc…

3. Keep your grates clean and lubricated. You do not want your hamburgers to taste like the fish you grilled two nights before. Clean your grates, after the grill has preheated, with a grill brush or stone. Then swab your grates with a folded paper towel or towel dipped in vegetable oil using a pair of long handled tongs. This will help prevent foods from sticking to your grate.

4. Soak before you grill. When using bamboo skewers for kebabs soak the skewers in water overnight or for at least 30 minutes to slow down burning of the skewers. Better yet, use metal skewers.

5. Sauce on the side please. When using BBQ sauce do not apply the sauce until the last 10 to 15 minutes on the grill. Most BBQ sauces contain sugar which will burn faster than you might think, turning your BBQ meal into a charred disaster.

6. Let it Rest. After grilling steaks, for instance, let them rest before serving for 10 minutes. After grilling larger cuts of meat let them rest for 15- 20 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to return to the meat, making for a tender and tasty piece of meat.

7. Do you have enough Fuel? The last you want to happen is you go out to check whatever you’re grilling only to find that it had stopped cooking sometime between now and the last time you checked on it because you ran out of gas or you didn’t have enough charcoal. The food you’re grilling is now cold and not cooked with hungry guests expecting to eat in 15 minutes. Make sure you have a full tank or a spare tank, I have a spare tank for each of my grills, and plenty of charcoal.

8.  Are you using a Charcoal Chimney Starter?  Be mindful of the wind when using a chimney starter.  Depending on what you use to light the charcoal, newspaper or a fire starter, you will get embers and these embers can fly around and start a fire in dry grass or a dry wood shake roof. So, be aware of your surroundings and the wind conditions before lighting the chimney. Have a fire extinguisher or water near by.

These are a few simple tips that can help you look like a true grill master to all of your friends and help keep you from ruining your BBQ. Open up a cold one and have a great time grilling.  For more tips and recipes you can check out our Tips & Tricks section.

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