Summer has arrived in the Portland metro area, and we can all start to feel the heat. But did you know that preparing your meals indoors can contribute to your air conditioner working harder? Your oven and stove both produce heat that is released into the home, which can counteract all of the hard work your AC is doing to keep you comfortable. Cooking outdoors can help keep your energy bills under control, and your family cool in the summer. Below we have some helpful tips listed for anyone who may need to brush up on their grilling skills for the summer.
- Brush that grill! A clean grilling surface is very essential to safe cooking, and helps to prevent food from sticking to the grill. You may find it is easier to clean once the grill has warmed up a bit, but a good scrub never hurts.
- Oil your grill to prevent foods from sticking! Cleaning the grill with a brush may not remove all of the debris. A good recommendation would be to grab a paper towel, fold it in half, and douse with vegetable oil. Use your tongs to brush the towel with the oil onto the grill. DO NOT USE cooking spray, as this contains an accelerant that may cause a fire.
- Grab all tools and ingredients! Some grills may come equipped with an attachment on the side to set your spatula and other materials. However, if your grill does not have one, a TV tray, cookie sheet, or outdoor table may be used as well.
- Don’t put fresh food on a cold grill! Be sure to let the grill preheat to your desired range (this may vary depending on the food being cooked) High heat is between 400 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas low heat is around 300 degrees. A simple rule of thumb is to hold your bare hand about five inches above the grill and see how quickly you need to pull your hand away. With low heat, you should last about 10 seconds. For medium heat, five seconds. High heat — just two seconds.
- If using a charcoal grill, use a chimney starter! This allows you to light your grill with charcoal, a few pieces of newspaper, and eliminates the need for lighter fluid. This can sometimes pose a safety hazard, and can potentially affect the taste of your food.
- Want that nice Crosshatch Char? Be sure to turn each piece of meat 45 degrees when you are halfway into cooking each side.
- Be sure your meat is fully cooked! There are digital meal thermometers available to help assist you in ensuring your meat is at the proper temperature to safety digest. You may also consult the foodsafety guidelines for any further questions.
Written by: Courtney Woodall