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.

Grilled Chicken with Arugula Salad & Lemon- Caper Vinaigrette

Grilled Chicken with Arugula
SERVES 4

Lemon-Caper Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped drained capers
1 tablespoon finely chopped peperoncini (pickled Italian peppers)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chicken
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salad
5 ounces arugula (about 8 cups)
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2 small, thin zucchini
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

[1]  To make the vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, whisk the shallots, lemon zest, lemon juice, capers, peperoncini, parsley, and vinegar together. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

[2]  To cook the chicken: Heat a grill pan over medium- high heat. Coat the chicken with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken for about 4 minutes per side, or until it is seared with grill marks and shows no sign of pink when pierced in the thickest part with the tip of a small sharp knife. Transfer to a cutting board.

[3]  To assemble the salad: In a large bowl, combine the arugula and tomatoes. Trim the ends of the zucchini. One at a time, lay the zucchini flat on a work surface and, using a vegetable peeler and working from the stem end to the blossom end, shave off long, thin ribbons until you reach the seedy center. Turn the zucchini around and repeat on second, then repeat on the third and fourth sides. Add the ribbons to the bowl and discard the seedy centers of the zucchini.

[4]  Using your hands, to avoid breaking the ribbons, gently toss the salad with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

[5]  Cut each chicken breast half crosswise into thirds. Transfer a cut chicken breast to each dinner plate and heap some of the salad alongside. Drizzle the chicken and salad with the remaining vinaigrette and serve immediately.

Excerpted from Curtis Stone’s What’s For Dinner. Copyright © 2013 by Random House, Inc.  Published by Ballantine Books. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.