Summer is the perfect season to cook outdoors for picnics, pool parties, and camping trips. Few aromas are more enticing than a steak or veggie kebabs cooking over an open flame. But did you know that outdoor grills cause an average of 10,600 home fires each year, sending 19,700 people to the ER?1
Before you tie on that apron and fire up your backyard kettle, take a moment to review these tips to help keep family, friends, and yourself safe during a cookout:
- When using propane gas, check the cylinder hose for leaks or cracks, make sure the connection to the grill is secure, and open the grill lid before opening the gas valve.
- Grills should be placed at least 10 feet away from anything that could catch fire—buildings, hedges and trees (and their branches), automobiles and gas-powered gardening equipment, and lawn furniture. Don’t grill in a garage or on a covered porch or breezeway.
- Clean the grill before every use. Remove grime, charred food, and grease buildup from the grates, lids, and grease trays.
- Never leave a grill unattended.
- While cooking, sit away from and facing the grill so that you can keep an eye on flare-ups.
- Keep a water-filled spray bottle handy to douse flare-ups. If a flare-up starts to get out of control, immediately close the grill lid if you can safely reach it.
- Keep children, pets, and toys away from the grilling area. Be wary of bouncing balls and other objects that can accidentally land on the grill.
- While manning the grill, wear close-fitting clothing that won’t hang over or fall onto the grate.
- Always keep an ABC fire extinguisher nearby—but not immediately next to the grill—and know how to use it.
- Never dump used charcoal or wood chips onto grass or into a trash can. You can’t tell whether the embers are cool by holding your hand over them. After food has been cooked, close the grill lid, close any air vents, and give the embers at least 48 hours to cool.2
- Use a meat thermometer to make sure your food is cooked to a safe temperature. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends these minimum internal temperatures:3
|TYPE OF MEAT||MINIMUM INTERNAL TEMPERATURE
(in degrees Fahrenheit)
|Beef (except ground beef)||145 °F; then allow the meat to rest 3 minutes before cutting it|
|Ground meats||160 °F|
|Ham, uncooked (fresh or smoked)||145 °F; let rest 3 minutes|
|Ham, cooked (to reheat):
|Lamb||145 °F; let rest 3 minutes|
|Pork||145 °F; let rest 3 minutes|
|Poultry, all types and cuts (breasts, drumsticks, legs, thighs, whole, wings)||165 °F|
|Veal||145 °F; let rest 3 minutes|
Now that you’ve prepped and fireproofed your outdoor cooking area, get ready, get set, grill! And here’s an easy chicken salad recipe to get you started!
Grilled Chicken, Peach, and Arugula Salad4
Serves 6, total prep time: 30 minutes
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt (or more or less to taste)
- 4 peaches, halved and pitted (tip: make sure the peaches aren’t too ripe)
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 8 cups baby arugula
- Herbs (cilantro, parsley) and nuts (sliced almonds, walnut pieces) for garnish
- Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat; lightly oil the grate.
- Whisk balsamic vinegar, shallot, mustard, and ½ teaspoon salt in a bowl. While whisking briskly, drizzle ¼ cup of the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified.
- Brush 1 teaspoon oil onto cut side of peaches.
- Place peaches, cut-side down, onto grill; cook until heated through (about 4 minutes). Transfer peaches to a plate.
- Brush remaining oil onto both sides of chicken breasts and season with salt.
- Cook chicken on grill until no longer pink in the center (about 4 minutes per side). Insert an instant-read thermometer into the center of each piece; the temperature should read at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice chicken into thin pieces and cut peaches into 1/2-inch thick pieces.
- Toss arugula with dressing in a large bowl. Place arugula on plates, arrange peaches and chicken on top of greens. Garnish with herbs, nuts, or other favorite healthy toppings.
Nutrition data per serving (not including garnishes): 210 calories, 13 grams fat (2 grams saturated fat), 263 milligrams sodium, 5.8 grams carbohydrate (0.4 grams dietary fiber), 17 grams protein
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