Heat Wave: Grilling Tips for Your Next Barbecue

Summer is winding down, but safety measures should apply at all times.

Graduate research assistant Kari Spivey advises novice grillers to be aware of hot and cold spots on the grill to avoid uneven cooking.

Graduate research assistant Kari Spivey advises novice grillers to be aware of hot and cold spots on the grill to avoid uneven cooking.

The days still are hot, with temperatures reaching 100 degrees regularly, meaning time still remains for outdoor activities and enjoying the sunshine. For people who want to fire up the grill there is time to take a chance at grilling mom’s famous shrimp shish kabobs or grandma’s delicious smoked brisket.

It only takes one wrong move or a simple mistake, however, to send the world’s greatest backyard cook to the emergency room. With the Lubbock County burn ban still in effect, the Lubbock Commissioner’s Court reported outdoor grilling is permissible while in the city. A water hose or fire extinguisher should be on hand, and avoiding dry grass is encouraged, as well as grills with lids to contain the fire.

Kari Spivey, a graduate research assistant in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Texas Tech, likes to grill everything from beef to fruit. She has competed in many barbecue contests since she moved to Texas, and was a member of the Meat Science graduate student team that competed in the Hub City BBQ Cook-Off.

Spivey said over the years she has developed guidelines every griller should follow.

For a safe and successful barbecue:

  • Be aware of the hot and cold spots on the grill to avoid uneven cooking.
  • Light the grill and let it warm up before putting the food onto the grill.
  • Shut the lid so food will cook faster.
  • Be aware of “flare-ups” which are caused by grease dropping down to the burner of the grill. Move food away from these areas.
  • Food takes longer to cook with charcoal.

Spivey also said to allow plenty of time for lighter fluid to burn off, so the food won’t taste of it. Monitoring the fire is pertinent as well, since charcoal is harder to control if the fire gets out of hand. Lastly, always remember to let coals burn out completely before removing them from the grill.

From a food safety perspective, when handling raw meat it is important to be aware of cleanliness and the separation of different foods, said Sara Gragg, a research assistant in Animal and Food Sciences.

“Your hands must be washed with soap and hot water immediately after handling raw meat,” Gragg said. “It’s important to remember that any microorganisms present on the surface of the meat will be transferred to your hands, and then to any subsequent surface that your hands will touch: cabinets, plates, and other surfaces.”

“As well, all raw meat should be kept separate from cooked meat, vegetables or other sides so that cross contamination does not occur. Food should not come together until all of it is fully cooked,” Gragg said.

Below are internal temperatures for safe consumption:

  • Steak: 145 degrees
  • Lamb: 145 degrees for medium rare
  • Lamb chops: 160 degrees
  • Veal: 150 degrees
  • Pork: 160 degrees
  • Chicken breast: 170 degrees
  • All other chicken: 180 degrees
  • Ground beef: 160 degrees
  • Whole fish: 155 degrees

“You can grill everything from meat to vegetables to fruit and even bread, and I encourage people to try new things, but safety is always number one,” Spivey said. “For high-quality products I also suggest Red Raider Meats. It’s a personal favorite.”

Red Raider Meats sells many grilling favorites such as steak, bratwurst, loin chops and beef prime rib at COWamongus on the Texas Tech campus, as well as United Supermarkets and through its new home-delivery service.

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Animal and Food Sciences

Animal and Food Sciences Building

The Department of Animal and Food Sciences is housed within the College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources.

In 2004, Animal and Food Sciences moved into a new state-of-the-art teaching and research facility. This new facility includes four multimedia-classrooms, five specialized teaching & research labs, the largest retail meat cooler on a university campus, and a retail store (COWamongus).

The department's Equestrian Center is home to Texas Tech's champion Ranch Horse Team, Rodeo Team, Equestrian Team, Therapeutic Riding Center and a 4-H Youth group.

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