Labor Day signals the last official summer holiday and the return to regular schedules for most families. There will be cookouts all weekend long as families and friends gather for summer fun before fall arrives. Keep your cookout safe by following these tips and some variety to your menu by trying one of these recipes for burgers from the Texas Beef Council.
Keep It Clean and Safe
Rule #1: Hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Hot foods need to be kept above 135 after they are cooked to prevent bacteria growth. Cold foods need to be kept below 41. Store in refrigerator or ice chest until ready to use.
Rule #2: Have separate ice chests for beverages, ready-to-eat foods, and raw meats. Never use the ice from around foods in a beverage cup to cool the drink. Have an ice chest with clean ice to be used in drinks.
Rule #3: Wash hands well in hot soapy water before and after handling meat and other fresh foods. If hand washing isn't available, use disposable gloves. Use hand sanitizers before putting on gloves. Be sure the sanitizer is dry on your hands before you put on gloves.
Rule #4: Use tongs and other utensils to prevent bare hand contact with foods being prepared. Wash all utensils, cutting surfaces and counters with soapy water after contact with raw meat. Use paper plates for raw meats that can be disposed of after use. Disposable cutting surfaces are also available.
So You Are A Grill Master?
Here's a few tips to make your grilling more successful. Start the charcoal early enough to allow it to cook down so that gray ashes appear and red embers show. Most folks are through cooking before the charcoal is ready to use. Keep a spray water bottle handy to put out flare-ups.
Don't over-handle the ground beef when you are making the patties. The more you work it, the tougher it becomes. Salt the burger after cooking or on the last turn of the burger. Salt draws out the moisture and inhibits the browning. Cook burgers until no pink is in the center. The juices should run clear. Do not press patties when cooking. Pressing causes the loss of flavorful juices making the burger dry. Use medium heat to cook the beef for tender patties cooked to desired doneness.
1 pound lean ground beef
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
5-6 shakes Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup hot or hearty barbecue sauce
4 Kaiser rolls or hamburger buns
In medium bowl, combine all ingredients mixing lightly but thoroughly. Shape into 4 patties. Place patties on grid over medium ash-covered coals. Grill uncovered 14-16 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, turning once. Place burger patties on buns and serve.
Blue Bayou Burgers
1 pound lean ground beef made into 4 patties
salt and pepper to taste
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
4 sesame seed buns, split
4 lettuce leaves
8 tomato slices
Grill the patties to 160 degrees internal temperature. Season with salt and pepper. Top patty with 1 ounce cheese and melt under broiler. Spread 1 tablespoon Hot Pepper Mayonnaise on each bun. Top bottom bun half with lettuce leaf, 2 tomato slices, burger and bun top.
Hot Pepper Mayonnaise
In bowl mix 3/4 cup mayonnaise with 1/2 to 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
4 frozen, fully cooked burgers
1/2 cup refried beans
1/4 cup salsa picante
1 bag (1-1/4 ounces) corn chips (1/2 cup crushed)
4 hamburgers buns
mayonnaise, tomato slices, lettuce leaves
Blend refried beans and salsa in a small bowl. Spread evenly over frozen burgers and place in a microwave-safe dish. Cover with plastic wrap, folding back one corner. Microwave burgers on high 4-5 minutes, turning dish halfway through heating time, until burgers are piping hot. Coarsely crush corn chips. Spread mayonnaise on buns. Top bottom half of each bun with lettuce and tomato slices; top with burgers, bean side up. Sprinkle corn chips evenly over beans. Lay remaining buns on top and press gently.