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Food & Grilling tips

1. Great food makes for a great barbecue! You can either provide all of the food, or have a potluck-style barbecue, with each guest bringing his/her favorite dish or favorite kind of beverage. As the host/hostess of the barbecue, you should provide the food that will be grilled (meat, vegetables, etc.). Always use high quality ingredients for the freshest tasting foods.

2. Pick Produce at the Peak of Perfection. Nowadays, most produce is available all-year-round. However, each fruit or vegetable has a time of year in which it is most flavorful and ripe.

So, what’s in season? The following helpful table is a list of some of the most popular seasonal fruits and vegetables. Use it the next time you go grocery shopping!

Seasonal fruit & Vegetable guide

Season

Produce

   

 

             

 

 

Spring

 

Apricots

Artichoke

Asparagus

Avocado

Carrots

Chives

Collards

Fennel

Mango

Mustard greens

New potatoes

Pineapple

Rhubarb

Spinach

Spring baby lettuce

Strawberries

Snow peas

Sugar snap peas

Vidalia onions

Watercress

 

 

Summer

 

Beets

Blackberries

Blueberries

Broccoli

Corn

Cucumber

Eggplant

Green beans

Nectarines

Peaches

Plums

Raspberries

Summer squash

Tomatoes

Watermelon

Zucchini

 

 

Fall

 

 

Acorn squash

Apples

Butternut squash

Cauliflower

Figs

Garlic

Ginger

Grapes

Mushrooms

Parsnips

Pears

Pomegranate

Pumpkin

Sweet Potatoes

Swiss chard

 

 

Winter

 

Chestnuts

Grapefruit

Kale

Leeks

Lemons

Oranges

Tangerines

Radicchio

Radishes

Rutabaga

Turnips

 

3. Tips on organic food. For many people, pesticides and genetically-engineered foods are a concern. This is one of the many reasons why organic foods are becoming more prevalent.

Pesticide contamination levels vary with each type of produce. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the following is a helpful list of the top 12 produce you should buy organic, and a list of the top 12 produce that are the least contaminated of which conventionally-grown is satisfactory, if organic is not readily available. These lists are based on the results of thousands of tests conducted between 2000 and 2004 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (Source URL: http://www.ewg.org/node/8792):

12 Most Contaminated Fruits & Vegetables*

  1. Peaches (worst / highest pesticide load)
  2. Apples
  3. Sweet Bell Peppers
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarines
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Lettuce
  9. Grapes - imported
  10. Pears
  11. Spinach
  12. Potatoes

* produce that you should buy organic when possible

 

12 Least Contaminated Fruits & Vegetables:

  1. Eggplant
  2. Broccoli
  3. Cabbage
  4. Bananas
  5. Kiwi
  6. Asparagus
  7. Sweet Peas - frozen
  8. Mango
  9. Pineapples
  10. Sweet Corn - frozen
  11. Avocado
  12. Onions (best / lowest pesticide load)

4. Do it buffet-style. At a barbecue, it’s ideal to set up a buffet table. It will be easier for you and your guests if they serve and help themselves. For a great event, make sure that your barbecue spread is bountiful - include at least two to three items under each food category (the categories being: Meats, Grilled Vegetables, Sides, Breads, Desserts, and Beverages). A good variety of foods to choose from will ensure that you will satisfy every guest.

Make sure every food container on your buffet table has a lid to keep away unwanted bugs like ants and flies. Plastic wrap and/or aluminum foil may also be useful in protecting the food. Furthermore, keep any easily perishable foods (i.e. potato salad made with mayonnaise) on ice.

5. It’s all about flavor! To achieve a savory and authentic smoky flavor, roast your meats and vegetables over a charcoal or wood fire. If you’re using an electric or gas grill, and want to get that traditional smoky flavor, marinate the foods that you will be grilling with natural liquid smoke, which you may find at your local grocery store and/or barbecue equipment and supply store.

6. Cooking preparation, techniques and tips. Don’t grill frozen meat; otherwise, the outside will burn before the inside is cooked. To avoid food safety issues, thoroughly thaw your meat in the refrigerator prior to grilling.

Make sure your grill is sizzling hot before placing your meat so as to kill any bacteria that may be on the grill. Also, a hot grill will create beautiful grill marks, searing in the succulent juices for perfect barbecued meat each and every time!

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, marinating your meat in citrus juice prior to grilling may eliminate more than approximately 90% of the carcinogens (e.g., chemical substances known as heterocyclic amines or HCAs) associated with grilling.

There are two main types of barbeque techniques: grilling and smoking. Grilling involves cooking your food over direct, high heat in a short period of time, as in a matter of minutes. In contrast, smoking involves roasting the meat over indirect heat during a much longer time period, which often involves hours.

The following helpful tables provide approximate grilling times for meat, seafood, and produce.

Meat & seafood grilling guide  

Food

Total Grilling Time (approximate)

 

Beef:

Flank Steak (¾-inch thick)

Ground beef patty (¾-1-inch thick)

Kebab (1½-2-inch cubes)

Rib roast (boneless, 5-6 pounds)  

(bone-in, 7-8 pounds)

 

Skirt steak (½-inch thick)

Steak - New York, T-bone (¾-inch thick)

(1-inch thick)

 

 (1¼-1½-inches thick) 

 

 (2-inches thick)

 

Tenderloin (4 pounds)

 

Veal loin chop (1-inch thick)

 

 

8-10 minutes (over direct high heat)

10-12 minutes (over direct high heat)

5-7 minutes (over direct high heat)

1½-1¾ hours (over indirect medium heat)

3 hours (sear 15 minutes over direct medium heat & grill 2¾ hours over indirect low heat)

4-5 minutes (over direct high heat)

4-6 minutes (over direct high heat)

6-8 minutes (sear 5-6 minutes over direct high heat & grill 1-2 minutes over indirect high heat)

10-14 minutes (sear 6-8 minutes over direct high heat & grill 4-6 minutes over indirect high heat)

14-18 minutes (sear 6-8 minutes over direct high heat & grill 8-10 minutes over indirect high heat) 

45 minutes (sear 15 minutes over direct medium heat & grill 30 minutes over indirect medium heat)

6-8 minutes (sear 5-6 minutes over direct high heat & grill 1-2 minutes over indirect high heat)

 

Lamb:

Chop (¾-inch thick)

Ground lamb patty (¾-1-inch thick)

Kebab (1½-2-inch cubes)

Leg of lamb (butterflied, 3 pounds)

 

Rack of lamb (1½-2 pounds)

 

 

8-12 minutes (over direct medium heat)

10-12 minutes (over direct medium heat)

5-7 minutes (over direct medium heat)

30 minutes (sear 10 minutes over direct medium heat & grill 20 minutes over indirect medium heat)

20 minutes (sear 5 minutes over direct medium heat & grill 15 minutes over indirect medium heat)

 

Poultry:

Chicken breast (boneless, skinless, 6-8 ounces)

(bone-in, 10-12 ounces)

Chicken leg/thigh (bone-in)

Chicken (whole, 4 pounds)

Chicken wing (2 ounces)

Cornish game hen (whole, unstuffed, 2 pounds)

Duck (whole, unstuffed, 6 pounds)

Duck breast (boneless, 10-12 ounces)

 

Ground chicken patty (½-inch thick)

Ground turkey patty (½-inch thick)

Turkey (whole, unstuffed, 10-12 pounds)

Turkey breast (boneless, 2 pounds)

  

 

8-12 minutes (over direct medium heat)

 

30-35 minutes (over indirect medium heat)

30-35 minutes (over indirect medium heat)

1-1½ hours (over indirect medium heat)

16 minutes (over direct medium heat)

1 hour (over indirect high heat)

 

40-45 minutes (over indirect high heat)

10-12 minutes (grill 2-3 minutes over direct low heat, and then 8-9 minutes over indirect high heat)

10-14 minutes (over direct medium heat)

10-14 minutes (over direct medium heat)

2½-3½ hours (over indirect low heat)    

1 hour (over indirect medium heat)

 

Pork:

Baby back ribs (2 pounds)

Chop (boneless or bone-in, ½-inch thick)

(1-inch thick)

(1½-inch thick) 

 

Ground pork patty (½-inch thick)

Loin roast (boneless, 2½-3 pounds)

(bone-in, 3-4 pounds)

Shoulder (boneless, 6 pounds)

Spareribs (3 pounds)

Tenderloin (¾-1 pound) 

 

 

3-4 hours (over indirect low heat)

5-7 minutes (over direct high heat)

8-10 minutes (over direct medium heat)

12-14 minutes (sear 5 minutes over direct high heat & grill 7-9 minutes over indirect high heat)

10-14 minutes (over direct medium heat)

45-50 minutes (over direct medium heat)

1¼- 1½ hours (over indirect medium heat) 

6-7 hours (over indirect low heat)

3-4 hours (over indirect low heat)

15-20 minutes (over direct medium heat)

 

Venison:

Steak (½-inch thick) 

 

 

10-12 minutes (over direct medium heat)

 

Seafood:

Clam

Fish (fillet or steak, ¼-inch thick)

(½-inch thick) 

(1-inch thick)

(whole, 1 pound)

(whole, 2 pounds)

(whole, 3 pounds)

Lobster tail (8-ounces)

Mussel

Oyster

Scallop (1-1½ ounces)

Shrimp (1-1½ ounces)

Squid

 

 

6-8 minutes (over direct high heat)

3-5 minutes (over direct high heat)

6-8 minutes (over direct high heat)

10-12 minutes (over direct high heat)

15-20 minutes (over indirect medium heat)

20-30 minutes (over indirect medium heat)

30-40 minutes (over indirect medium heat)

8-10 minutes (over direct medium heat)

5-6 minutes (over direct high heat)

3-4 minutes (over direct high heat)

4-6 minutes (over direct high heat)

2-4 minutes (over direct high heat)

4-6 minutes (over direct high heat)

 

Produce grilling guide

Produce

Total Grilling Time (approximate)

 

Acorn squash (halved, lengthwise)

 

40-60 minutes (over indirect medium heat)

 

Apple (½-inch thick slices)

 

6-8 minutes (over indirect medium heat)

 

Artichoke (halved, lengthwise)

 

60-70 minutes (grill 30-35 minutes over indirect medium heat, and then 30-35 minutes over direct medium heat)

 

Asparagus (½-inch diameter) 

 

6-8 minutes (over direct medium heat)

 

Beet (¼-inch thick slices) 

 

15 minutes (over direct medium heat)

 

Bell/Chili pepper (whole)

(halved)

(¼-inch thick slices) 

 

10-15 minutes (over direct medium heat)

8-10 minutes (over direct medium heat)

6-8 minutes (over direct medium heat)

 

Carrot (1-inch diameter)

 

7-11 minutes (steam 4-6 minutes & grill 3-5 minutes over direct high heat)

 

Corn (husked)

(in husk)

 

10-15 minutes (over direct medium heat)

30 minutes (over direct medium heat)

 

Eggplant (½-inch thick slices) 

 

8-10 minutes (over direct medium heat)

 

Fennel (¼-inch thick slices) 

 

10-12 minutes (steam 4 minutes & grill 6-8 minutes over direct medium heat)

 

Fig (whole)

 

15 minutes (over indirect medium heat)

 

Garlic (whole)

 

45-60 minutes (over indirect medium heat)

 

Japanese eggplant (halved, lengthwise)

 

8-10 minutes (over direct medium heat)

 

Mushroom (whole - button, cremini or shiitake)

Portobello/Portabella (whole)

 

10-12 minutes (over direct medium heat)

 

10-15 minutes (over direct medium heat)

 

Onion (halved)

(¼-½-inch thick slices)  

 

35-40 minutes (over indirect medium heat)

8-12 minutes (over direct medium heat)

 

Peach (halved)

 

10 minutes (over indirect medium heat)

 

Pineapple (½-inch thick slices) 

 

10-12 minutes (over indirect medium heat)

 

Potato (Russet, whole)

(Russet, ½-inch thick slices) 

New (halved)

Sweet (whole)

Sweet (¼-inch thick slices) 

 

45-60 minutes (over indirect medium heat)

15-16 minutes (over direct medium heat)

15-20 minutes (over direct medium heat)

50-60 minutes (over indirect medium heat)

12-14 minutes (over direct medium heat)

 

Prickly pear pad/nopal (whole)

 

10-12 minutes (over direct medium heat)

 

Scallion/Green onion (whole)

 

3-4 minutes (over direct medium heat)

 

Tomato (plum, whole)

(plum, halved)

 

8-10 minutes (over direct medium heat)

6-8 minutes (over direct medium heat)

 

Yellow squash (halved, lengthwise)

(½-inch thick slices)

 

6-8 minutes (over direct medium heat)

5-7 minutes (over direct medium heat)

 

Zucchini (halved, lengthwise)

(½-inch thick slices) 

 

4-6 minutes (over direct medium heat)

3-5 minutes (over direct medium heat)

 

 

TYPES OF WOOD

Different types of wood (e.g., hickory, mesquite, apple, maple, pecan, oak and cherry) will give your foods a delightfully distinct flavor. If you have any of these trees in your backyard, you can conveniently prune some of the branches, leave them out to dry, and then put them in your barbecue pit. Otherwise, wood can be purchased at your local firewood supply store and/or home supply store.

The following helpful table provides a list of the varieties of wood that best compliment a particular type of food in terms of flavor.

wood Smoke flavor guide  

Type of Wood

Complimentary Food

Alder

Seafood

Apple

Pork, chicken

Black Walnut

Beef, game (i.e. venison)

Cedar

Seafood, poultry

Cherry

Beef, lamb, pork, poultry

Citrus

Seafood, poultry

Grapevines

Poultry, game, lamb

Hickory

Beef, pork, poultry

Maple

Pork, poultry

Mesquite

Beef

Mulberry

Pork, poultry

Oak

Beef, lamb, pork, poultry, game, seafood

Orange

Seafood, poultry

Peach

Seafood, poultry

Pear

Seafood, poultry

Pecan

Seafood, poultry, pork

Sassafras

Pork, poultry, lamb

The burning rate of each of the aforementioned types of wood varies. In this case, it is often beneficial to mix your wood chips with charcoal to achieve an optimal, even burning rate, temperature, and the desired amount of smoke. However, there is no right or wrong - it really depends on your preference. You may use a 50:50 mixture of wood and charcoal, pure wood, pure charcoal, or any combination thereof. Practice makes perfect - the more you barbecue, the more you will find what you like, and what works best for you. 

Other sources that produce a delightful smoke flavor for when grilling include:

  • Cornhusks, corncobs, and hay – produce a sweet, smoky flavor
  • Herbs – create a fragrant aroma
  • Seaweed – add a distinct ocean flare
  • Shells of nuts (e.g., pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, etc.) – produce an earthy, nutty flavor  

Note:  Don’t use pine (coniferous) wood; such wood contains tar and resins that, when burned, imbue undesirable flavors into the meat. 

7. It looks good, but is it done yet? The only surefire way to know whether a particular food is safe to eat is to take its internal temperature with a food thermometer. The following helpful table provides a list of proper internal temperatures for safe cooking. (Note: Insert the food thermometer into the thickest part of the food, away from bone, gristle/cartilage, or fat).

Safe internal food temperature guide

Food

Internal Temperature (F)

 

Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures:

 

Beef, Lamb, Pork, Veal

 

Chicken, Turkey

 

 

 

160°

 

165°

 

Fresh Beef, Lamb, Veal:

 

Medium rare

 

Medium

 

Well done

 

 

 

145°

 

160°

 

170°

 

Poultry:

 

Chicken & Turkey (whole)

 

Poultry parts

 

Duck & Goose (whole)

 

Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird)

 

 

 

165° - 180°

 

165° - 180°

 

165° - 180°

 

165°

 

Fresh Pork:

 

Medium

 

Well done

 

 

 

160°

 

170°

 

Ham:

 

Fresh (raw)

 

Pre-cooked (to reheat)

 

 

 

160°

 

140°

 

Eggs & Egg dishes:

 

Eggs

 

Egg dishes

 

 

 

Cook until yolk & white are firm

 

160°

 

Seafood:

 

Fin fish

 

Crab, Lobster, Shrimp

 

Clams, Oysters, Mussels

 

Scallops

 

 

 

145° - or until opaque and flakes easily

 

Cook until flesh is pearly & opaque

 

Cook until shells open

 

Cook until flesh is milky white or opaque & firm

 

Leftovers & Casseroles

 

165°

 

Source: United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, May 2008, URL: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/Use_a_Food_Thermometer/index.asp#chart; and Partnership for Food Safety Education, URL: http://www.fightbac.org/content/view/93/2/

Other Helpful Tips: Prepare most of your food in advance of the day of the barbecue. You don’t want to spend a lot of time cooped up in the kitchen on the day of the cookout, and not only delay serving your guests, but neglect your hosting duties. Additionally, the main focus at the barbecue event should be the grilling of the meats and/or vegetables. The smoky aroma of barbecued meats and the sweet sizzling sounds should be the center of attention!

If someone will be helping you in the kitchen while you are grilling outside, another great tip is to use a handheld, portable walkie-talkie (a two-way radio transceiver) to communicate with each other. That way, things will go a lot smoothly, and you will not have to rush back and forth between the kitchen and the outdoor grill. Otherwise, if you focus your attention away from the grill, even for a minute, you could risk burning the food!

You can find and purchase walkie-talkies at electronic stores such as RadioShack, Circuit City, Office Depot and Best Buy. Popular walkie-talkie brands include Motorola and Midland.

For further information and guides on food preparation, see Conversion Tables & More.

 

 

 

   

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HOMERECIPESABOUT BBQBBQ GRILLS & ACCESSORIESPICK A GREAT LOCATION

FOOD & GRILLING TIPS FREE ESTIMATESCONVERSION TABLES & MORE COOKING DICTIONARY

DECORATEMISCELLANEOUS OUTDOOR COOKING & MORE  HOW TO BE A GREAT HOST/HOSTESS

PROTECT AGAINST PESTSFUN ACTIVITIES, SPORTS & ENTERTAINMENT INVITATIONSSHOP

LINK TO USSUPPLEMENTSCONTESTSADVERTISECONTACT US

 

 

 

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