July is National Grilling Month — Be safe and eat well
By Toi Degree
Rowan Cooperative Extension
It’s officially summer, which is the time for the best outdoor cooking, so it’s no surprise July is National Grilling Month.
Food poisoning peaks in the summer months when warmer temperatures cause food-borne germs to flourish. Continue reading for a refresher on how to prevent those germs from getting out of hand.
Here are a few grilling tips to keep you grilling and enjoying the beautiful weather all season long.
When shopping, pick up meat, poultry and seafood last right before checkout. Separate them from other food in your shopping cart and grocery bags. To guard against cross-contamination, put packages of raw meat and poultry into individual plastic bags.
Keep meat, poultry and seafood refrigerated until ready to grill. When transporting, keep below 40 degrees in an insulated cooler.
Wash your hands with soap before and after handling raw meat, poultry and seafood. Wash work surfaces, utensils and the grill before and after cooking.
Check your grill and tools
Use a moist cloth or paper towel to clean the grill surface before cooking. If you use a wire bristle brush, thoroughly inspect the grill’s surface before cooking. Wire bristles from grill-cleaning brushes may dislodge and stick into food on the grill.
Throw out marinades and sauces that have touched raw meat juices, which can spread germs to cooked foods. Use clean utensils and a clean plate to remove cooked meat from the grill.
Use a food thermometer to ensure meat is cooked hot enough to kill harmful germs. When smoking, keep temperatures inside the smoker at 225 to 300 degrees to keep the meat a safe temperature while it cooks.
• 145 degrees – whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb and veal (stand-time of 3 minutes at this temperature)
• 145 degrees – fish
• 160 degrees – hamburgers and other ground beef
• 165 degrees – all poultry and pre-cooked meats, like hot dogs
• 140 degrees or warmer – until it’s served
Divide leftovers into small portions and place in covered, shallow containers. Put in freezer or fridge within two hours of cooking (one hour if above 90 degrees outside).
The above food safety practices and grilling tips will help ensure that you and your guests have a safe and enjoyable grilling season.
For more information on food safety, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Food Safety page: https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/index.html
Toi N. Degree, Family & Consumer Education Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension. Call 704-216-8970 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What to grill this summer
By Deirdre Parker Smith
Looking for new ideas for your cookout this summer? Everyone has a favorite burger or hot dog concoction. But if you want to add a little spice to the usual, try using different cheeses on the burger, from cheddar to provolone to smoked gouda. A new cheese on the market isn’t just pepper cheese, it’s triple pepper, with chipotle, habanero and jalapeño.
Instead of a slice of iceberg lettuce, try crispy red or green cabbage, or a pile of kale. Kale is not as slippery as lettuce and gives you a bit more nutrition.
Want more char on your dogs? Try spiral cutting them first. Take a long wooden skewer and put it through the center of the hot dog. Using a sharp knife, cut the hot dog on a diagonal along the length of the hot dog, turning the hot dog as you cut. Do not cut completely through. Carefully remove the skewer and repeat with as many hot dogs as you want. This will allow the hot dog to open up on the grill and pick up more char on the inside.
Do you always have hot dogs with chile, slaw and onions? Try one with mustard and sauerkraut, or do a Chicago dog, which has tomato, lettuce, sweet pickle relish and a dill pickle spear and sliced banana peppers. That way you have a salad with your meat.
Or, make your burger or dog Southern gourmet, with toppings of pimiento cheese and fried green tomato.
But if you want to save the burgers for another day, or add to your menu, try these recipes”
8 Vidalia or other sweet onions, peeled
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 slices good-quality bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup of your favorite brand of sweet red barbecue sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Equipment: 8 pieces of aluminum foil, twisted into 2-inch rings or grilling rings; 1-1/2 cups of wood chips or chunks, soaked for 1 hour, then drained
Using a sharp paring knife and working opposite the stem end, cut a cone-shaped cavity in each onion by angling your knife toward the center and cutting in a circle. Finely chop the onion you’ve removed. Set each onion on a foil ring with the cavity facing up.
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and chopped onion and cook over medium heat until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain the bacon in a strainer over a bowl. Place a spoonful of the bacon mixture in the cavity of each onion. Cut the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter into 8 equal pieces. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the barbecue sauce into each onion and place a piece of butter on top.
Sprinkle with pepper.
Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. If using a gas grill, place all of the wood chips or chunks into the smoker box or a smoker pouch and run the grill on high until you see smoke. Then reduce heat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in the center and preheat the grill to medium, then toss all of the wood chips or chunks on the coals.
When ready to cook, place the onions on their rings in the center of the hot grate, over the drip pan, and away from the heat, and cover the grill. Cook the onions until they are golden brown and tender, 40 to 60 minutes. To test for doneness, pinch the side of an onion; it should be squeezably soft. If the filling starts to brown too much before the onions are fully cooked, cover the onions loosely with aluminum foil. Transfer the grilled onions to a platter or plates and serve at once.
From Steven Raichlen.
Grilled Lime Shrimp
1/2 tsp. fresh lime zest
1/4-1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. organo
1/2-1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2-3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound shelled deveined raw shrimp
Mix the first eight ingredients together. Add shrimp. Toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes to marinate. Thread shrimp on metal skewers; reserve marinade.
Place skewered shrimp on grill over medium heat. Cook 3-7 minutes or until shrimp turn pick, turning one and brushing with marinade occasionally.
This Mexican Corn Salad will be a nice side dish to have with the shrimp. You have a choice — you can grill the corn first, or take it off the cob and cook it in a cast-iron skillet (which could also go on the grill). The salad can also be made ahead of time and served at room temperature.
Mexican Corn Salad (Esquites)
2 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
4 cups fresh or thawed corn kernels (about 5 medium ears)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
3 Tbsp. crumbled Cotija cheese, plus more for garnish
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise or Mexican crema
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Remove the skillet from the heat and allow the corn to cool for a few minutes.
Transfer the corn to a large bowl. Add the cilantro, jalapeño, Cotija, mayonnaise, lime juice and chili powder and stir to combine. Top with additional Cotija and serve warm or at room temperature.
If you want to grill the corn on the cob before making the salad, grill until the corn begins to brown slightly, then cut it off the cob and proceed with the recipe.
Tired of burgers? Try making them with ground pork — not sausage, but plain ground pork.
Easy Peasy Pork Burgers
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup soft bread crumbs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. dried parsley flakes
2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 pounds ground pork
6 hamburger buns, split
In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. Crumble pork over mixture and mix well. Shape into six patties.
Grill burgers, covered, over medium heat for 4-5 minutes on each side or until a thermometer reads 160 degrees.
Serve on buns with lettuce, tomato and onion, if desired. Also try pickled jalapeños or banana peppers on the pork burgers.
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