Is It Done Yet?
Grilling and spending time with family and friends is one of my favorite summer pastimes. There are so many different food and spice combinations that can be used on the grill which makes for some never-ending possibilities (especially when your spice cabinet is overflowing like mine). I like to be the queen of the grill at my house and the guys don’t seem to mind one bit. They trust that the food I am serving them is fresh and fully cooked, as your family probably does, too. For this reason it is very helpful to know how well done your food should be cooked. Everyone obviously has their own preferences. Some like their burgers rare and their chicken blackened, while others like a well done burger and a lightly toasted piece of chicken.

When everyone is exhausted from a long day of swimming or playing beach volleyball it can be tempting to heat up the grill and throw some burgers on it without thinking too much about it. But when it comes to food safety, there are some precautions and cooking rules that you should always remember and reference before you dive in. 


Keep It Clean
Most backyard grill masters know how to keep their grill clean, but being outside in nature can sometimes make us overlook the traditional health precautions we would normally take while cooking in the kitchen. Your uncooked food is ready to absorb all the germs you are willing to let it. For that reason, make sure you wash your hands before touching any raw meat and make sure that all plates and grilling utensils are also clean.


The Safe Zone

Almost anyone could tell you that to keep raw meat safe and fresh you should refrigerate it up until you are ready to throw it on the grill. This means that your meat is being stored in the safe zone - under 40° F. But what if you need to take it out of the fridge to season it? Or what if you are transporting it to a campground for a cookout later that day? These questions bring us to the two-hour rule. The two - hour rule is not a guarantee, but a suggestion, that you should not leave uncooked meat at temperatures above 40 F for more than 2 hours. Although keeping your meat in the safe zone does not kill germs, it does prevent the growth of new bacteria. After two hours outside of the safe zone, bacteria that is naturally found on meat will multiply and make it unsafe to eat. Any meat that has been sitting out for 2 hours should be thrown away.


Cooking Times

Every type of meat and seafood has a certain temperature that it should reach before it is eaten. Some people like their burgers still mooing, but for children and the extremely elderly meat should reach the USDA recommended temperature. This will ensure that the most bacteria are killed off before the food is finished cooking.

Some types of meat also require a rest time after they are finished cooking. During this rest time, the internal temperature may stay the same or continue to rise. The temperature should be taken at the end of this rest period to ensure that the meat is cooked thoroughly.

We came up with a handy guide to help you decide the temperature and amount of time you should cook some of the most popular grilled meats. Remember that every grill is different, just like an oven. If you suspect that your food is getting too much heat on one side flip it so that it doesn't get too crispy. Always keep your food thermometer on hand and take the temperature whenever you think it might be getting close to being done cooking.


BEEF     Cooking Time in Minutes at High Heat
Steak Heat Type Thickness 1/2" 1" 1 1/2" 2"
Rare
120°-130°
Direct First Side
After Flipping
2
2
5
3
6
4
8
6
Medium Rare
130°-140°
Direct First Side
After Flipping
3
2
5
4
7
5
9
8
Medium
140°-150°
Direct First Side
After Flipping
4
2
6
4
7
6
10
8
Well Done
160°-170°
Direct First Side
After Flipping
5
3
8
6
10
8
13
11
BEEF     Cooking Time in Minutes at High Heat
Hamburger Heat Type Thickness 1/2" 1"
Well Done
160°
Direct First Side
After Flipping
3
3
4
5
   
CHICKEN      
  Heat Type   Cooking Time in Minutes at Medium/High Heat
Boneless Breast
(6-8 oz)
165°
Direct   First Side
After Flipping
10
12
Wings
(2-3 oz)
165°
Direct   First Side
After Flipping
8
10
PORK      
  Heat Type   Cooking Time in Minutes
Pork Chops
160°
Direct (High Heat)   First Side
After Flipping
4
5
Ribs
(3 lbs) 160°
Indirect (Medium Heat)   Side 1
Side 2
up to 1 hr 15 mins
up to 1 hr 15 mins

Now that you know which safety and health precautions to take, you are ready to think about what type of meat to grill and how to season it. We have many more blogs that will help you pick the types of meat, burgers and vegetables to cook along with an expert guide to cooking Smoked BBQ Ribs.



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