Nothing says summer like grilling out. Done right, cooking on a charcoal or gas grill can yield some delicious and nutritious fare, but it takes special care to be sure you are keeping it safe and healthy. With a few simple steps you can minimize your risk and enjoy grilled foods that are flavorful and safe.
Make sure your grill is clean. Scrub your grill with a brush before and after grilling. Burned food left on the grill can contain harmful bacteria and carcinogens. Cleaning your grill grates thoroughly will minimize your exposure to these dangers and make your food taste much better.
Marinate meats before grilling. We don’t know exactly why but marinating meat helps reduce carcinogens. In a study conducted at Kansas State University researchers marinated steaks in mixtures of oil, vinegar, and herbs and spices. After grilling, carcinogens in the marinated steaks were cut by 57 to 88 percent. Marinating can also help to tenderize meat and give it extra flavor.
Know when it’s time to flip. To reduce the danger of carcinogens, it’s important to keep meat from charring. To avoid pulling a piece of meat apart when you are ready to turn it, tug lightly working from side-to-side with tongs. It’s ready to flip when it comes loose without pulling.
Avoid flame-ups. The more fat content in a piece of meat, the more fat will drip onto the flames and cause smoke and flame-ups, two sources of carcinogens. One solution – grill leaner cuts of meat, poultry, and fish for a healthier meal all around.
Trim burned portions before serving. A little charred fat might be tasty but burned meat contains more cancer-causing compounds. Let coals die down before putting fattier cuts on the grill to avoid burning, and remove burned fat and other charred portions of the food before serving.
Reduce bacteria in grilled burgers. To kill the common E.coli bacteria, the USDA recommends cooking ground beef to 160 degrees. Flip burgers frequently: A study in the Journal of Food Protection advised flipping every 30 seconds for optimal E.coli reduction. Another study found that even when two patties both reached 160 degrees, the one flipped more often had one-fifth the E.coli.
Know your grill. It’s not uncommon for grills to have hot spots. Move food around the surface of the grill to prevent burning and assure more consistent cooking. If you have a flame-up, move the food to a cooler part of the grill until the flame dies down.
Watch the cooking time. The faster foods are cooked, the less likely they are to burn. Cook meat to its desired temperature, not beyond: 165o for poultry (165-175 for thighs; 170 -175 for ground poultry); 160o for ground red meats or mixtures and fresh pork; or 145-150o for red meat steaks or chops (depending on desired doneness).
Looking for a perfect side to compliment you summer cookout. Try this quick and tasty recipe for grilled fresh tomatoes. Not only will it get rave reviews, but it also is a healthy way to add color and flavor to your table.
Ingredients • Firm, ripe tomatoes • Olive oil • Kosher salt to taste • Black pepper to taste • Fresh basil leaves, chopped (about 1 tablespoon) • Grated Parmesan cheese
Directions • Cut tomatoes in half around the middle. • Preheat grill on high heat for direct grilling. • Season the cut side of the tomatoes with salt and pepper and brush with olive oil. • Brush the grill grate with olive oil to help prevent sticking. • Place the tomatoes, cut side down on the grill surface. • Cover the grill and cook for about 4 minutes. • Lift tomatoes off of the grill with metal spatula. • Serve cut side up. • Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with basil and grated Parmesan cheese.