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Grilling Tips by Featherblade Craft Butchery

To Our Loyal Customers:

Butchers often share information on meat processing, recipes, grilling, etc. The following is an excerpt from an article authored by Martin Kirrane, owner of Featherblade Craft Butchery in Las Vegas, Nevada that we recently came across. Martin, originally from England, opened his very successful butcher store in Las Vegas a bit over three years ago. We thought it a real down-to-earth article on grilling and with Martin’s kind permission, have provided an excerpt for your information. We hope you enjoy it and use some of those safety tips the next time you use your grill!

                                                                                                The Team at McKays Family Butchers

“GRILLING TIPS..” By Martin Kirrane, Owner, Featherblade Craft Butchery, Las Vegas, NV, USA

One of my favourite things about Las Vegas is that it tends to be sunny and hot, sometimes very hot. Even in Winter, it might be a touch cooler, but Madame Sun stays out – she just works less hours. This means I get to use my trusty grill as often as I like. I often use it for slow-smoking cooks, but this post is all about standard classic grilling foods over flame or coals. If it isn’t always sunny where you are, you can still fire it up; you just have to be a little more courageous. Grilling in the rain is all good; you’ll just get wet and might have to eat indoors.

At home I use a Weber charcoal grill, it’s pretty basic but versatile enough to accommodate a range of cooking methods.

Anyway, when it comes to grilling, I’m often asked about putting higher-risk foods (chicken, sausages, pork) on the open-flame grill or direct heat. The key thing is that those high risk foods are cooked through for safety and all that, and a high heat can make food appear cooked but in reality it’s a raw meaty lump….read on! Note: if you’re using a lid, it means you’re probably using indirect heat and, therefore, smoking, and it’s a lot easier to properly cook high-risk food, just like using a funny-shaped outdoor oven. I also know that a lot of people will already understand the tips in this post, but it’s written for those who don’t and ask questions.

So when I was about 11, I remember we had people around, celebrating the fact that the London Sun had decided to come out to play (the stories of persistent rain and clouds in London are true), and maybe our football team had won or something, by scoring goals, not touchdowns, but the food celebrations are similar. I think a cousin of mine was manning the grill, and I distinctly remember receiving a sausage in a bun that looked black, like charcoal but nice and pink in the middle. I mean, I ate it, but now I understand why I didn’t feel so good about 20 minutes later. The second one didn’t help matters either.

Something thick like a sausage can take 10-15 minutes in a pan, so if it’s on an open flame, you really have to be careful to ensure it’s cooked through. The same goes for chicken and pork to a slightly lesser extent.

One path to success is to master the skill of grill-juggling, staggering the meat start times (longest cooking time on the grill first, of course), then keeping them moving around the grill from centre to side after they’ve received a blast of fire. If you channel the focus of a Jedi knight or Zen master, then it’s definitely feasible to get this right, but if you want to cheat a little and almost guarantee success, then I have a small and simple tip. Simply cook them first.

Let’s say you have a menu of steaks, chicken wings, thighs and a few sausages and you want to impress on an open flame. Marinate or season however you want, then throw the latter 3 meats into their own oven-safe dishes and gently bake at a low setting, like 220°F. The idea is you want to slowly bring the high-risk meat up to about 150°F as that will kill that pesky vomit-inducing bacteria. If marinating, it also ensures that the marinade cooks nicely into the meat as well. And you can do all of this while waiting for your coals to burn down, sipping your drink and generally being the boss of the party.

When they hit temp and you’re ready to go, you can add everything, steaks included, to the fire celebration. There’ll still be plenty of lovely juice and fat in the sausages/chicken/whatever to get those flames flying. That’s when you can roll them around the grill and char them a bit, giving you that wonderfully unique barbeque char taste, without the risk of chowing down on a raw sausage like I did back in 1993 or killing Aunt Betty, who just wants to enjoy a good sausage.

You might feel you’re a fire purist and don’t want to cheat like this, and that’s all good, but hey, if it means you can enjoy the party a little more, then why not? It’s just another opinion and either way, use your faithful thermometer probe and be safe!