Getting ready to barbecue, grill out, or cook out. Whatever you call it, we’re all going to do it this weekend! So let’s barbecue brilliantly and safely.
Safety First – Think Fire & Food
You have to fire up the grill before anything else happens. Now I know most of you are using propane. And that’s fine. The rest of you die hard purists are cooking over charcoal or wood. These safety rules apply to all of you. I could add more, but let’s do a Top 5:
1. Grill outside only.
We shouldn’t have to say this. But every year someone thinks it’s fine to grill in an enclosed garage or porch. No. It’s. Not.
2. Look up. Don’t grill under anything.
This is kind of like the first one, but I don’t want you to grill underneath an awning or tent or overhang. It’s just never a good idea. Grills are always hotter than we think.
3. Keep the grill stable.
If it wiggles, fix it. If it’s on a slope, move it before you fire it up.
4. Stay with the gill.
Don’t leave the grill unattended. Ever. Kids and pets have a way of wandering towards a grill like it’s a magnet. Get someone to watch the grill when you step away.
5. Don’t move the grill after it’s lit.
You don’t see this tip on many safety lists. But folks sometimes think, after the grill is good and hot, “Hey, I should move this grill.” Bad idea. Really bad idea.
I’m going to give you charcoal Barbecue Kings & Queens a bonus safety tip. It’s a tip that you know already. Don’t ever add lighter fluid to an existing flame. Not from the can or a cup. Make sure you get the right amount of lighter fluid on the charcoal before you light it up.
Here are three simple food safety rules.
1. Keep it cool.
Meat and poultry don’t do well in warm weather. Thaw the meat out the day before grilling (never grill frozen food). But keep it in a cooler or a refrigerator, and take it out only when it’s time to grill.
2. Cook it to temp.
We all know too many stories of “so and so’s friend” who ate under cooked meat at a barbecue. Don’t be the perpetrator of Salmonella and other icky food borne diseases.
Minimum internal temps:
Whole poultry: 165 °F
Ground meats: 160 °F
Steaks, roasts & chops: 145 °F (then let sit for 3 minutes)
3. Don’t burn it.
Charred meat can increase the risk of cancer. Something to do with HCAs and PAHs. That’s what the National Cancer Institute says anyway. But what we care most about is this: don’t burn the burgers… what a way to ruin a good cow! Seriously though, turn down the heat a bit, cook your meats slower, and you will increase the flavor while lowering the health risks.
And here’s the bonus tip: don’t leave the leftovers out for more than two hours. Change that. It’s Texas, and it’s over 90 degrees most summer days. On a hot summer day, that window shrinks to ONE HOUR. Put the leftovers in the fridge before they go bad.
I hope this helps keep your holiday barbecue safe. Grill On, Have Fun and Stay Safe.
Happy Fourth of July!