Editor’s note:  This is part 1 of a 2-part series.

June – it’s the start of summer, Father’s Day, and YES, lots of grilling!  Nothing says summer like grilling your favorite foods on the deck, patio, or at your favorite park and getting out of that stuffy kitchen. I have worked for years with 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! I found some great information from the Extension Service that I think you will find handy.

Note: extension agents are located across the country – more than 16,000 of them!  I happen to live in Tennessee so, of course, they are one of my many go-to resources.  Your state probably has one too – check out this link with a map and list of extension programs to see how to reach one near you.

Before we talk about grilling, let’s talk a little about food safety – that should always be a priority!


 Shopping and the Trip Home

Food safety is important when you shop. Follow these simple suggestions to keep your food safe from the grocery store to your home.



Preparing Food Safely

Once you get your food home, it must be handled safely to prevent food-borne illness.



Temperature to Cook Food


145  F Beef, lamb and veal steaks and roasts, medium rare (160 F for medium)
160 F Ground beef, pork, veal and lamb; pork chops, ribs and roasts; egg dishes
165 F Ground turkey and chicken, stuffing and casseroles, leftovers
170 F Chicken and turkey breasts
180 F Chicken and turkey whole bird, legs, thighs, and wings



Choosing Your Grill

Grills can range in price from about $10 to hundreds of dollars. Most charcoal grills are less expensive than gas grills and do a good job. Consider these factors when choosing your grill:



Grilling Basics

What makes some people great at outdoor grilling? They have learned basic rules for successful grilling.  Try one of the following grilling methods. The best method depends on what type of food you are cooking.



How Hot Is Your Temperature?

You can estimate the temperature of your grill by holding your hand, palm side down, about four inches   from the coals. Count how long you can hold your hand over the coals before it is too hot and you have to pull away.


Number of seconds



375 or higher, HOT


350 – 375 F, Medium-hot


300 – 350 F, Medium


200-300 F, Low




Roasted Corn

1 box or 2 to 3 cups of frozen whole kernel corn (no added sauce)

Nonstick cooking spray

Salt (optional)

  1. Spray heavy-duty aluminum foil with nonstick cooking spray. Form a pan with the foil by turning up edges.
  2. Place frozen corn on foil. Sprinkle with salt if desired.
  3. Grill corn until done, about 20 minutes. Shake pan often to prevent sticking.

Another idea: Peel and husk corn on the cob and soak it in cold water for 1 hour. Wrap the corn in aluminum foil and grill for 20 to 30 minutes, turning every few minutes.


Grilled Whole Onion

1 large yellow or white onion per person

Bowl of cold water

1 teaspoon margarine

Optional condiments:

Worcestershire sauce

Hot pepper sauce

Lemon pepper

Chopped parsley

Chopped dill


  1. Soak unpeeled onion in bowl of cold water for 30 minutes to prevent burning. Cover onion with a plate to keep it under water.
  1. Drain and grill on low to medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes, rotating every 10 minutes so that it heats evenly. Insert a fork into onion to test for desired tenderness.
  2. Serve onion whole. Remove skin, add margarine and any desired condiments.

Another idea: Slice onions and add seasonings. Wrap in heavy duty foil and grill for 15 to 20 minutes.


Grilled Chicken Kabobs

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 carton (about 2 cups) cherry tomatoes

1 green bell pepper cut into small squares

1 16-ounce can pineapple chunks

1 cup teriyaki sauce or marinade

1 teaspoon paprika (optional)

1 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)

  1. Mix teriyaki sauce or marinade with spices as desired. Set aside a small amount of marinade for basting later. Place the chicken pieces in the marinade in a glass dish and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Drain chicken and dispose of the marinade.
  2. Place chicken, vegetables and pineapple on long wooden or metal skewers. Alternate chicken with vegetables and pineapple. Leave a space between each piece of chicken and the vegetables or pineapple to allow even cooking.
  3. Place skewers on grill rack and grill, covered with grill lid, over hot coals 5 to 10 minutes on each side. They are done when they reach 170 F. To avoid burning, baste skewers with teriyaki sauce when chicken is nearly done.


Thank you to the University of Tennessee Extension Service for permission to use information from their “Grilling it Safely” publication.  We are grateful!


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