The Secret to Grilling Season:

The official start of summer is right around the corner and that means it is time to take a break from the oven and stove top and begin making your meals on the grill.  From now through October we grill everything from fresh vegetables straight from the garden to our homemade pizza.  But like many of you, we use the grill most often to cook hamburgers, steak and chicken.

Secret to Grilling Season
Steaks on the grill – ready to be tested with a thermometer to check if they are done.

The most common mistake that one makes when grilling is to over cook the meat.  Traditionally the meat would be considered ‘ready to eat’ after visually inspecting the interior color to see if it is ‘done’ or pressing on the meat with the back of a spatula to determine how firm it is. 

This simply involves too much guesswork and a loss of taste and texture of your food. 

Meat and poultry are considered cooked and juicy at certain temperatures but become dry and tough if cooked much longer.  That is why an instant read thermometer will become your must have tool for the summer months!

Secret to Grilling Season
An instant read thermometer with a built in alarm

Using a thermometer to check your meat will help to ensure that it is cooked to the proper temperature to avoid harmful bacteria that may be present in undercooked meat.  But equally as important, the thermometer will allow you to not over cook your meat resulting in a tough and dry meal.

Secret to Grilling Season
The key to great grilled chicken is letting it reach the safe to consume temperature and immediately take it off the grill!

The key to a great tasting cut of meat is to remove it from the direct heat source the minute it reaches the safe temperature.  You absolutely must have an instant read thermometer to know when it is safe to do this. It makes a world of difference, especially when grilling chicken breast. Just place the probe in the thickest part of the meat with the probe tip stopped in the center. Make sure to avoid touching any bones with the thermometer to get an accurate reading.

After removing it from the heat once it reaches the USDA recommended safe internal temperature, let it rest under tented foil for approximately 10 minutes to allow all the juices to flow back into the center of the meat (especially for thicker cuts).  The reason is that as meat cooks the muscle fibers start to firm up and water gets pushed out. This moisture moves outward toward the surface of the meat, where some of it eventually evaporates. After removing it from the direct heat the moisture inside needs some time to redistribute back through the meat.  This will result in the perfectly cooked and deliciously juicy cut of meat right from your grill!

The USDA recommends cooking your meats to the following temperatures for safe consuming:

  Category Food Temperature (°F)       
  Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb 160      
  Turkey, Chicken 165      
  Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb Medium Rare Steaks, roasts, chops 145 *      
    Medium Steaks, roasts, chops 160      
  Poultry Chicken & Turkey, whole 165      
  Poultry breasts, roasts 165      
  Poultry thighs, legs, wings 165      
  Duck & Goose 165      
  Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird) 165      
  Pork and Ham Fresh pork 145*      
  Fresh ham (raw) 145*      
  Precooked ham (to reheat) Reheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140 °F and all others to 165 °F.      
  Seafood Fin Fish 145 or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.      
  Shrimp, lobster, and crabs Cook until flesh is pearly and opaque.      
  Clams, oysters, and mussels Cook until shells open during cooking.      
  Scallops Cook until flesh is milky white or opaque and firm.      
  *Beef and Pork cooked at 145 requires 3 minutes of resting for safe consumption
             

Happy Grilling!

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Mary and Jim

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