Spring is a Great Time to Get Started Grilling!
While some places, like Detroit, are getting flurries of snow, and others, like Arizona, are hitting sweltering temperatures, there’s really no better time than the spring to start grilling outdoors. Grilling outdoors is a healthy, fast, and delicious choice for making a meal, perfect for spring. For example, cooking vegetables wrapped in foil and some chicken on a grill can provide a fast meal for a family, or even a week’s worth of meal-prep for a single person. Grilled chicken is much more healthy than its fried or broiled alternatives. And grilled chicken breast and vegetables are a flavorful alternative to the soups and casseroles of winter. Getting a jump on grilling means getting a jump on a healthy and fun summer.
To get into spring grilling, here are a few tips:
How to do a spring grill check-up:
Make sure the natural gas line or propane tank is properly attached to the grill. Sometimes, after a season of disuse and bad weather, grills can lose their connections. If it is cold out, make sure the grill lid is not frozen shut, if it is, do not try to open it as doing so can break the lid. If the grill is frozen, it can be taken indoors to thaw, maybe in a garage or other space. Always make sure the grill is out in the open before lighting. Clear a path between the grill and the kitchen. Put out a lantern or other adequate lighting source, so that the food can be clearly seen when grilled. Stay warm, but don’t wear anything than can be caught in the grill or easily lit, such as a scarf. It is an excellent idea to always have a fire extinguisher nearby, but not a smoke alarm.
How to do a spring grill light:
Once assured the grill is thawed and able to open. There are several ways to light a grill, so check an owner’s manual. Open the lid. Then, light the grill according to the manual, usually a turn of a knob. Do this more than once if it does not light on the first try. Close the lid.
Allow it to heat to the desired temperature for the food to be cooked. This is usually one to two times longer than in the summer for colder states. A grill must be 500 degrees to sear a steak, 400 degrees or more to cook the typical chicken or fish, and must be 400 degrees or less to cook vegetables or to slowly cook meat without grill marks. (https://www.consumerreports.org/gas-grills/is-your-grill-hot-enough/) To reach 500 degrees, it takes 20 minutes for the average grill in colder temperatures (50 degrees outdoors or less) but use a thermometer to check the grill. There is usually a hole in the bottom right part of the grill to insert a grill thermometer.
How to grill food in the spring:
Grill as normal, taking care to turn meat pieces more often and move them around hot spots on the grill. Always make sure the grill is maintaining its desired temperature, especially if it is particularly cold outside. Shut the grill lid and keep it closed at all times, except when checking food! As much as 20 percent of a grill’s heat can be lost each time the lid is opened, and that’s not a great idea when wanting to get done grilling when it’s cold or hot outside! Check sear marks and insert a meat thermometer to make sure all meat is properly cooked, as spring grilling tends to take longer. Cook raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to 145 degrees Fahrenit. Always cook raw ground beef, pork, lamb and veal to 160° F. Cook raw poultry to 165° F. These desired temperatures are all per Department of Agriculture recommendations. Once food is cooked, be sure to plate it using a spatula or tongs that aren’t hot or frozen, and take it inside. Then turn off grill immediately.
Those are some tips to get started spring cooking out. Don’t be afraid to brush off the snow, grill in the rain, or enjoy the heat, because grilled food is for all seasons. Happy grilling!