Summer BBQ tips

Whether on a patio, at the beach, on a dock, in a tent, or simply sitting in the backyard watching the grass grow, summer is all about getting outside to savour the sunshine. What better way to enjoy the great outdoors than with a BBQ! As chicken fans, we’re keen to cook up chicken breasts, thighs or drumsticks as part of a mixed grill. If we have a little more time, we’ll go for a whole chicken cooked over a beer can. With so much fresh produce in season, we might make up some chicken skewers that incorporate seasonal vegetables. And of course there’s always room for wings on our grill.

To help you enjoy a season of tasty and safe al fresco dining, here are some BBQ food safety tips.

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SAFE BARBECUE FOOD PREPARATION

Storing raw meat in the refrigerator
At home, store raw meat in the refrigerator immediately after you return from the grocery store. Freeze raw poultry or ground beef that won’t be used within one to two days. Freeze other raw meats if they won’t be used within four to five days.

Storing raw meat in a cooler
If you are storing your meat in a cooler before barbecuing, make sure that the cooler is kept cold with ice packs. Keep the cooler out of direct sunlight and avoid opening it too often, because it lets cold air out and warm air in. Ensure that your meat products are well sealed and that ice water doesn’t come in contact with stored meat products. This can lead to cross-contamination with others items in the cooler. You may also want to use two coolers, one for drinks (as it may get opened more often) and another one for food. Whether you are storing the meat in the refrigerator or a cooler, always remember to keep food out of the temperature danger zone of 4°C to 60°C (40°F to 140°F). Bacteria can grow in this temperature range. In as little as two hours in this range, your food can become dangerous.

Marinating
Marinate meat in the refrigerator, not on the counter. If you want to save some of the marinade to baste cooked meat or use as a dipping sauce, make sure to set some aside in the refrigerator that hasn’t touched uncooked meat. Don’t use leftover marinade that has been in contact with raw meat on cooked food.

SAFE BARBECUE SERVING TIPS

Keep hot food hot
Remember to keep hot food hot until served. Keep cooked meats hot by setting them to the side of the grill, not directly over coals where they can overcook.

Serving food
Use a clean plate when taking food off the grill. Remember not to put cooked food on the same plate that held raw meat. This prevents it from being re-contaminated by raw juices.

Leftovers
Cool food by using shallow containers, so that it cools quickly. Discard any food left out for more than two hours. On hot summer days, don’t keep food at room temperature for more than one hour.

For a guide to safe cooking temperatures for various meat cuts, and for other safe BBQ cooking tips, visit the Government of Canada’s website.

Need some BBQ inspiration? Check out this recipe for Sambal Glazed Chicken Wings. Or try our new fresh organic chicken burgers.

Sambal glazed chicken wings

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This recipe for Sambal Glazed Chicken Wings comes to us from Chef Lucas Castle, Executive Chef with Compass Group at the Ontario Legislative Assembly, Queen’s Park. Yorkshire Valley Farms recently served up a batch of these wings at the Peterborough Day event at Queen’s Park, a wonderful affair designed to showcase local businesses and producers from the Peterborough area. The wings were most certainly a hit with the attendees – there was not one wing left to spare by the end of the event! Chef Lucas was kind enough to share his culinary secrets so that we can all enjoy these tasty wings at home.

sambal glazed chicken wings
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup sambal chili paste
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tsp finely grated peeled ginger
1 kg Yorkshire Valley Farms organic chicken wings
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
1/4 cup crushed salted peanuts

Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC). In a heavy bottom pot, whisk brown sugar, rice vinegar, chili paste, fish sauce, and ginger. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until sauce has reduced by half (about 1 cup).

Toss chicken with 3/4 of sauce and roast in oven. After 10 minutes, turn the chicken and baste with remaining marinade.

Finish cooking through, approximately another 10 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 185ºF (85ºC). The glaze should caramelize and become a deep reddish-brown. If there is any remaining marinade, drizzle over top of the cooked wings.

Season with kosher salt and pepper if needed. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and crushed salted peanuts.

“Breaking Down The Bird”

Whenever you’ve got a few extra minutes on your hands in the kitchen, buying a whole chicken and prepping it yourself can mean some serious savings at the store. And when that little bit of work translates into a new pair of peep-toe pumps for Spring, it may just seem like a worthy endeavor. Well, choosing a whole chicken not only buys you more chicken for your precious food dollar (and maybe even new shoes), but it also buys you freedom. Chicken is already such a phenomenal canvas for culinary creations, but with the entire bird on hand- bones, skin, neck, and all, the possibilities become endless.  And since that chicken is going to be giving you a lot of culinary mileage, you’re going to want the best, and that of course means bringing home the goods from Yorkshire Valley Farms (YVF).

The first question to ponder after purchasing a whole YVF bird is, of course, what to do with it. If you have a crowd to feed, the most obvious preparation is to cook the chicken whole, an option that has multiple variations in itself! You can roast it like you would your holiday turkey, braise it in a flavourful broth, let it cook over a rotisserie spit, or grill it over indirect heat on the BBQ.

[Recipe for “Glazed Chicken Skewers with Soy Sauce & Ginger” from F.L. Fowler’s Fifty Shades of Chicken]

But what about those of us with smaller families or appetites? Well, one of the great things about buying a whole chicken is that you get to decide how many portions you want it to yield, and how many meals you want it to make. So why not divvy the chicken up into freezer bags, and assign each bag a simple recipe so when a crazy lets-just-call-for-pizza night rolls along, you can just pull out the portion you need and know exactly what you’re doing with it. This sense of control is particularly helpful if you’re trying to keep an eye on portion sizes, because sometimes store-prepared chicken breasts are two or three times what you need! But by bringing home a whole chicken, you get to call all the shots for what goes on your plate, and what goes in the freezer for tomorrow.  If you’re not already a pro, check out this step-by-step guide on breaking down a chicken by the folks at Bon Appetit

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But let’s say you’re not so graceful with the boning knife, or perhaps your whole week was too tight to plan ahead. Thankfully, you can offload your protein-prep work onto the experts at YVF.  Helping you get dinner on the table in a hurry, you can buy your chicken any way you want it- bones in or out, skin on or off, breasts, thighs, drumsticks or wings. And regardless of who preps chicken pieces, there are endless options for getting them on the dinner table.  Check out this inspirational guide for planning your chicken menu!

YVF’s Boneless Skinless, Supreme, or Split Breasts

Breasts are not only the lowest fat cut of the chicken, but they’re also probably the most versatile to work with. Because of their inherent leanness, they are best grilled, fried, or roasted at a high temperature, brined or marinated for added moisture, or braised in a flavourful liquid. For a healthy quick lunch, try throwing them on the BBQ for a smoky aroma, and then adding them to your sandwiches and salads.

YVF’s Skin-On Thighs, Boneless Skinless Thighs, Skin-On Drumsticks or Back Attached Leg

In contrast, the legs often get a bad reputation for bulking up your legs, but that may be a somewhat overstated concern. Yes, there are about 30- 50 additional calories and around 3-5 additional grams of fat in a 3 oz serving of skinless chicken leg meat compared to the breast. But in the grand scheme of dinner, that’s probably not a big deal, especially since the caloric trade off is a more intense chicken flavour. Well, like its white meat cousin, legs are extremely adaptable and versatile, but because of their higher fat and collagen content, they can withstand longer cooking methods before drying out.  A great go-to preparation for legs is to pan-fry until the skin gets crispy, and then simmer in white wine and chicken broth until the meat is tender.

YVF’s Skin-On Wings

While it may be the least lean part of the chicken, the wings are a bit like portion-controlled treats. You only get four pieces per bird (two “flats” and two “drums”) so even if you were to eat them all yourself, there’s hardly a reason for guilt. Unlike the versatility of the other bits, there are only a few choices you have to make when it comes to cooking wings. Baked, fried or grilled? Battered, naked or sauced? And of course, how much heat can you handle?

Wing Tips, Bones, Neck & Skin

Here’s where the value of buying that whole chicken really kicks in, because once you’ve starting making homemade stock, you’ll never spend money on the boxed variety again.  Start by throwing all the bits of the bird you don’t plan to eat into a pot, and adding celery, onions, carrots and about 1 ½ tsp of salt. Cover the works with about 6 cups of cold water, bring it to a boil, and then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 4 hours. Strain the stock, discard all the bits, skim off the fat from the surface, and voila! Flu, stress, heart ache- no matter what is ailing you, a bowl of this will fix it!

So whenever you’re in the grocery store, starring into the poultry fridge and wondering, “what’s for dinner?” just remember all of the delicious and healthy possibilities of choosing organic chicken.  Braised thighs and drumsticks tonight, chicken breast salad for lunch, wings for a bedtime snack, and soup stock for weeks! And whether you divvy up the parts yourself, or leave it to the pros, when Yorkshire Valley Farms is on the menu, you know the meal will be great.