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Summer Is Here; Time to Get Grilling

July 3, 2013

By WeatherBug Meteorologists, Seth Carrier and James West

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Summer is in full swing and now is the time to head out to the patio or deck, fire up the grill and cook your favorite summer-time food. Whether it`s the traditional hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, steak or new favorites like grilled vegetables, seafood, fish and kabobs, there are a few tips that will keep the grilling fun and safe.

Like in anything in life, having the proper equipment is the first step toward success. Here`s a list of items you`ll want to have on hand to make your grilling a winner:

  • A sturdy table that you can use for food preparation and to put out the spread.
  • Citronella candles or other bug repellants to keep mosquitos and other flying beast at bay
  • An extra propane tank (if cooking with gas).
  • A food thermometer.
  • Brushes for spreading barbeque sauce.
  • Oven mitts.
  • At least two gallons of water for cleanup.
  • Trash can with seal lid to keep bugs out
  • If cooking with charcoal, a chimney starter so you can avoid using lighter fluid (this will improve food flavor).

Having the right gear is just the beginning; it`s time to focus on the star of the show-the food! Before the cooking begins, remember to leave enough time to properly preheat the grill. This takes 20 minutes for a gas grill and 30 minutes for charcoal. Also, line the bottom of the grill with aluminum foil to make for easier cleanup at the end of the day. After the grill is done preheating, use a wire brush to clean the grill rack before placing food on it.

Meat is one of the main staples on any grill and this means that food safety is a big priority. Don`t forget to use separate plates for raw meat going on the grill and cooked meat coming off it. Be sure to keep cold foods below 40 degrees F and hot foods above 140 degrees F to prevent bacteria growth. Use your food thermometer to make sure that meats are cooked thoroughly. Safe temperatures are 180 degrees for chicken, 160 degrees for pork chops and ground beef, and 140 degrees for steak.

One good cooking trick is to only place charcoal under half of the cooking surface or lighting only half of a gas grill. This will give you a space for slow-cooking certain items like vegetables and fish, or a cooler place to move any food that is cooking too fast.

A common grilling mistake is to cut into a piece of meat or hot dog to see if it is done. Not only is it difficult to see the inside of the meat to check for doneness, but this also allows the meat`s juices to spill out, which diminishes taste. A better method is simply to press on the meat with your finger; a rare steak will be squishy, a medium piece of meat will be springy, while one that is well-done will be taut.

Also, wait about five minutes before slicing down your meat after it comes off the grill. During this time the juices inside will thicken and they will then stay inside the meat after it is cut.

In addition, only apply sauces in the final few minutes of cooking your chicken or steak. This will allow it to become a nice glaze when it comes off the grill. Applying your sauce at the beginning of the cooking process will make it into a charred mess by the time it`s ready to be served!

Once the cooking is done it`s important to dispose of hot charcoal briquettes in a safe manner. Ideally, one would let them cool for up to 48 hours. However, to speed up the process you can use tongs to pick up the coals individually and place them into a bucket of water. Never pour water directly onto hot coals, as the steam produced could burn you. Afterwards, wrap the used coals in foil and dispose of them in a non-combustible container.

WeatherBug`s Home and Garden section`s Barbecue index will let you know whether the weather is good or bad to do some outdoor grilling. the weather will affect you how the weather will be before you get you ready for grilling offers Be sure to keep WeatherBug active to receive the latest weather in your neighborhood and get the latest updates anywhere on Twitter.

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Story Image: Steaks are one of the many things people can grill over hot coals. (Jacob Werther, Wikicommons)

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