On the Grate: CASNR experts fired up about grilling, better barbeque
July is National Grilling Month. Although not an official holiday, backyard summer cookouts have been a tradition since caveman times. To celebrate, Texas Tech experts are sharing their knowledge of preparing, cooking, and serving meat for this grilling season.
The first step of grilling is selecting the protein of choice, said Brad Price, director of Raider Red Meats. “Before the grilling skills come into play you must start with a good piece of meat,” Price said. “You also need a grill that cooks evenly to create an excellent eating experience.”
Price said the best cut of meat really depends on a person’s preference. “There are grills out there that fit every kind of meat based on desired grilling method,” he said. “Make sure you understand your grill, know how it cooks, and know that hot spots exist.”
While working at Raider Red Meats, Price said he has received customer feedback involving consistent eating experiences each time they grill. “I think that one of the most important things is to learn where you’re shopping for your protein,” Price said. “Learn how protein performs each time from these stores so you can ensure you’re getting a great steak every time.”
Meantime, Mark Miller, Tech’s San Antonio Livestock and Rodeo Chair – Meat Science, Food Processing & Preservation, believes grilling is one of the safest ways to prepare food. “Cooking your food with that kind of temperature, smoke and heat ensures any bacteria on the surface of the meat you’re cooking will be killed,” Miller said. “So it’s a very safe process.”
Although grilling is a safe process, the cook still needs to be careful of cross contaminating food. Miller said separate plates need to be used for raw and cooked meats. A mistake people make is putting cooked meat in the oven for more than 20 minutes to keep warm while preparing their plates because it could ruin the flavor.
“You want to prepare everything else, all your other sides, have everything ready,” Miller said. “So when your steaks are ready, all the food can go immediately onto the plates and have everyone eating in a couple minutes.”
Separately, Tech Nutritional Sciences Professor Debra Reed noted that when it comes to healthy grilling there are three things to watch out for: overcooking the meat, portion control and including more vegetables and fruits. Overcooking the meat can produce compounds that can lead to cancer. Instead, Reed suggests cooking meats at a lower temperature or pre-heating them in the microwave before grilling to reduce cook time. Reed recommended grilling fruits and vegetables for side dishes and dessert as a healthy option. “Grilling brings out the sweetness; even people who don’t like fruits and vegetables may like the flavor.”
Reporting by Grace Acuna
CONTACT: Markus Miller, SALE chair – Meat Science, Food Processing & Preservation, Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2805 ext. 231 or firstname.lastname@example.org