Cookout tips for the summer

Warm weather is quickly approaching, and that means cookouts are on the horizon. Here are five cookout tips to aid in a successful grilling experience.

The Stevenson community enjoys a cookout at the annual Homecoming tailgate. Grillers are divided on the topic of charcoal v. gas. (Photo from Flickr)


When it comes to deciding which kind of grill to use, many would argue that it is best to cook with a gas-running grill. Gas users can save money, start up the grill more quickly and easily, clean up quickly, and avoid the kind of injuries that charcoal fires may potentially cause. Those using a charcoal grill need to be completely ready to toss the food on the grill and use extended matches if needed to avoid hazards.


When cooking food, be sure to set the temperature at which the food label suggests to avoid foodborne illnesses. Research or ask questions prior to the cookout if you are unsure about temperatures. Rare steak should be removed from the grill at 130 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit; medium-rare steak should be removed at 155 degrees Fahrenheit, and well-done steak should be removed at 165 degrees Fahrenheit.  To cook burgers, heat the gas grill on high or heat the coals in charcoal grill until they glow bright orange and ash over. Brush the burgers with oil and grill them until golden brown and slightly charred on the first side, about three minutes for beef and five minutes for turkey. Flip over the burgers and repeat. Be sure to avoid the tendency to press down on any burger while it’s grilling.


Cookouts held during nice weather often include family and friends for a great time. Alcohol may be present, and those who imbibe need to know that alcohol + hot weather = dehydration. Those who are grilling or helping to get the food together should avoid alcohol until everything is cooked. John Lukeivic, the general manger of Sodexo at Stevenson University, explains, “If you feel like you need to drink while cooking, do so, but watch your consumption.” The dangers of drinking alcohol can provide hazards to guests and hosts alike.


A cookout demands that the proper amount of food is available, so hosts should ensure that they don’t run short and leave guests hungry. Good hosts will also have plenty of side dishes along with the main course. Lukeivic added that hosts want to make sure they know the majority of people coming to the cookout to know what kind of taste buds they have. Be aware that a growing number of vegetarians and vegans may prefer an expanded menu.


Be sure to have fun with the cookout. Do not stress too much about the menu, beverages, or timing. Your guests, family, and friends are there to enjoy, so make sure that the cookout is one to remember.

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