Editor’s note: This is part 2 of a 2-part series.
Did you get to read the first part of this series? If not, read it here. We’re SO excited about summer and for so many reasons. One of course is FOOD and outdoor cooking. So much great information shared with me by our friends at the University of Tennessee Extension Service. They are THE experts on family and consumer sciences, along with agriculture, and that expertise includes anything involving foods. Take a peek at part 1 in this Unconditionally Her series and learn more about food safety and how to choose a grill, as well as the basics of grilling. In part 2 we are going to take it a step further and learn more about grill prep and grill safety – and of course there will be a few more great recipes to share. What summer would be complete without all kinds of great outdoor recipes? Let’s get grilling!
Charcoal Grill Safety Tips
- Place your grill on a solid surface away from overhangs, grass and shrubbery.
- Grill outside in a well-ventilated area. Never use charcoal inside your house, camper or tent. People die every year from carbon monoxide fumes from charcoal grills used inside.
- Store your grill outside. Do not store a grill with freshly used coals inside.
- Use lighter fluid made for grilling. Never use alcohol, gasoline or kerosene.
- Do not add lighter fluid to coals after they have been lit.
- Use long-handled tools and flame-retardant mitts to protect your hands.
- Keep loose clothing, especially apron strings and shirt tails, away from the grill. • Never leave children or pets unattended near a grill. • Keep a fire extinguisher and a spray bottle of water handy for flare-ups.
Preparing the Grill
Before you begin cooking, you need to prepare your grill. (The following steps are recommended for charcoal grills. Read your owner’s manual if you are using a gas grill.)
- Remove old coals and soil from the bottom of the grill. • Line the bottom with heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side up.
- Add about 30 charcoal briquets per pound of meat, and ignite. This can be done in a couple of ways.
- Place the briquets in a mound in the center of the grill. Soak the briquets with charcoal lighter fluid available where charcoal briquets are sold. Wait a minute and ignite. Let the coals burn for several minutes until they turn mostly gray and glow orange. Spread the hot coals over the bottom of the grill toward the edges, about two inches beyond where food will cook. Light the briquets 20 to 40 minutes before cooking.
- Buy or make a starter-can. You can make a starter can by cutting out the top and bottom of a 1-gallon tin can and punching holes around the bottom. Place the can in the center of the grill and add three to five crumpled sheets of newspaper in the bottom. Place briquets on top of the newspaper and ignite the paper. Wait about 10 to 15 minutes until briquets turn gray and glow orange. Remove can with pliers. 5 Spread the hot coals over the bottom of the grill using tongs with long handles.
- Add additional briquets as needed to keep the fire hot if your grilling time is longer than thirty minutes. Adjust the temperature of the coals by moving them apart and raising the grate to reduce the temperature. Raise the temperature by moving the coals closer together and lowering the grate.
- Clean the wire grate that comes in contact with your food while coals are heating. Scrub the grate with a stiff bristle brush to remove old food particles. Use a crumpled piece of foil if you don’t have a brush. (See cleaning tips below).
- Grilling isn’t just for meat. Serve grilled side dishes, such as vegetables and fruit, along with meats. Tomatoes, potatoes, onions, squash, apples and many other foods taste great cooked on a grill.
- Preheat sauces you plan to spread on grilled foods because cool sauces will lower the temperature of the food.
- Spread sticky sauces on grilled foods at the end of cooking. Sticky sauces tend to burn the outside of the food.
- Add fresh herbs such as cilantro, basil or parsley to bottled sauces for a “special” taste. Or, try other ingredients such as brown sugar, honey, thick fruit juice, black pepper, garlic, onion and oregano. Squeeze a fresh lemon, lime or orange for zesty flavor.
- Add salt and ingredients with salt after meat has cooked to reduce moisture loss.
- Serve a cool salad to complement hot, grilled foods.
Charcoal Grill Cleaning Tips
- Keep your grill clean by cleaning each time you use it.
- Wash the hood and inside with water and soap before you cook for the first time. Wash occasionally as needed.
- Use a scraper or wire brush to remove food from the grill before and after you cook.
- To prevent food from sticking, rub the grate with a small amount of vegetable oil on a paper towel or spray with vegetable cooking spray before lighting the charcoal.
Grilled White Fish
2 pounds fish fillets, skin and bones removed*
Vegetable cooking spray
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon parsley**
Salt and black pepper (optional)
- Coat pieces of heavy-duty aluminum foil with vegetable cooking spray or vegetable oil.
- Combine vegetable oil and lemon juice. Brush mixture over fillets. Sprinkle with parsley. Add salt and pepper if desired. Close foil around fish, sealing tightly.
- Place packets on grill rack and grill, covered with grill lid, over hot coals 10 to 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. *Buy about ½ pound per person of any variety. **Add other spice or herb mixtures, such as dill or lemon-pepper for more flavor. Or, top with salsa for spicy flavor.
1 pound ground beef
1 egg or egg substitute
½ tablespoon diced parsley
½ cup cracker or bread crumbs
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped onion (optional)
- Mix ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Shape into six patties spread to 1/2-inch thickness.
- Grill over medium-hot coals, until the center of the meat reaches 160 F.
Grilled Vegetable Medley
2 zucchini, sliced
2 summer squash, sliced
2 potatoes, sliced
¼ cup butter or margarine, melted
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt (optional)
1 onion, sliced (optional)
- Wash vegetables in clean water. Use a vegetable brush to remove soil from vegetables with tough skins such as potatoes.
- Combine melted butter or margarine with paprika and salt.
- Place vegetables on a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil, bringing up edges of foil. Pour butter or margarine mixture over vegetables. Close foil around vegetables, sealing tightly.
- Place vegetables on grill rack and grill, covered with grill lid, over medium-hot coals for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Another idea: Brush quartered red potatoes with olive oil. Sprinkle with seasonings. Grill wrapped in aluminum foil over medium coals for 20 to 30 minutes
Thank you to the University of Tennessee Extension Service for permission to use information from their “Grilling it Safely” publication. We are grateful!
Feature image from www.pexels.com, courtesy of rawpexel.com