Monday, April 13, 2009
Barbecued food is delicious and a key part of an outdoor lifestyle. And just like any form of cooking, it is important to follow good food preparation practices. This article provides some pointers on safe barbecuing.
Keep food cool. It is important to keep the food refrigerated until you cook it. This means that it is better to barbecue in batches rather than leaving meat and other barbecue foods sitting out waiting in the open, uncooked. Bring each new batch for cooking direct from the fridge to the barbecue every time it is ready to be cooked. Cover food. Cover the cooked food to keep the insects landing on it. Cook thoroughly. Ensure that all meats are cooked through. In particular, ensure that pork and chicken are properly cooked. It can be a little deceptive sometimes to see a charred outer casing of the meat, only to have uncooked flesh inside. Follow the cooking times suggested for each meat type. Keep foods separated during preparation. It is important that you keep raw foods and cooked foods apart from each other. In particular, raw poultry, raw pork and raw eggs should be handled very carefully on separate boards or workspaces and kept on separate dishes in readiness for cooking. Always clean preparation areas and items thoroughly before using with other food.
Be well lit. At night time, don't barbecue in the dark. It is important to be able to see what you are doing. Keep the area well lit; if necessary, bring out a cord and floodlight, making sure to hang up or tape down the cord so that nobody trips over it as they walk around. The light will ensure that you do not burn items, that you can tell when they are adequately cooked and that you do not burn yourself by misjudging where to place your hands and utensils. Keep the barbecue area safe. If you have small children or children are coming as guests, ensure that they cannot reach the barbecue area, or if they can, that there is always somewhere there to supervise and tell the children to move away. Keep pets away. Pets near the barbecue can be a hazard. You may trip over them and an over-enthusiastic pet might try to grab a free meal of the the grill and get burnt in the process.
Stay with a cooking barbecue. During ignition and cooking, always remain with a barbecue. If you need to leave it, have a guest watch over it in your absence. A barbecue should never be left unattended; fat may catch on fire and spark outwards, a child might wander over and touch the hot elements or the food may burn. Get the tools right. The right tools are barbecue tools. They have longer handles, longer tongs or tines and they enable you to move the food about with the least potential for harm to either yourself or the food by ensuring better grip and dexterity. Don't be stingy on this; the results of owning good barbecue tools will definitely outweigh any costs.
Use only the appropriate fuel. Use the fuel that is recommended by the manufacturer only. If you try to substitute with another type of fuel, you may risk damaging the barbecue or causing a fire or melt down of the barbecue. Clean regularly. A clean barbecue will function better and is healthier for you. An unclean barbecue will increase the potential for carcinogenic build-up to enter your food. Always clean after a barbecue and it'll be easier and you'll be less tempted to barbecue over the burnt on bits that way!
If you have vegetarian guests, it is helpful to use a different part of the barbecue to prepare their food and to avoid contact with meat items. Many barbecues come with special vegetable compartments nowadays, like the one shown in the photograph heading this article. Another great alternative is to purchase a Japanese hibachi barbecue just for the vegetarian items and to located this on a table next to the main barbecue. These are cheap and very easy to use and you can easily cook both foods at the same time, or ask the veggie guests to help out with their good.
It is prudent to keep a fire blanket or fire extinguisher in close proximity to a barbecue; alert any guests helping out as to its whereabouts should the unthinkable happen. Always read the manufacturer's instructions before using a barbecue. They are provided for a reason and the safety precautions are important.