Easy gourmet grilling can also be safe grilling, if you take a few simple precautions. The same fire that will help you create a delicious meal can present dangers to you, your guests and your property. Your first consideration is where you locate your grill. Flame-ups occur on a grill-sometimes the food catches on fire-and you don’t want that to result in a nearby tree or your patio roof catching fire. Accidents like this happen all the time, and are easily preventable. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby, or even a garden hose if that is possible. Having a large pitcher of water close by can also be useful for dousing flame-ups.
You also want to locate your grill on a stable, level surface. Your next safety concern involves pets and children. You need to keep them away from the grill from the moment you start the fire until everyone goes back inside. Pets can burn themselves because they are attracted to the wonderful smell of the food grilling. And unattended children can burn themselves because they aren’t aware the metal cooking unit is hot. You should try to locate the grill away from high traffic areas for pets, children, and even your guests.
Grilling is fun because it is a relaxed, low-stress activity. You can socialize with others while you are “working" outside on the meal, and you have just one simple rule to adhere to: don’t burn the food! There is one aspect to outdoor cooking that retires as much vigilance as in the indoor kitchen: avoiding bacterial contamination. Discard marinade when you put the food on the grill and don’t use it as a basting sauce. Switch out plates that had raw meat on them with clean plates. The same thing with utensils: you will need to have several pairs of tongs or spatulas available so you will not contaminate the cooked food with bacteria that may have been in the raw food. And if you handle raw meat, you will need to wash your hands before you continue grilling. If you plan on eating your meal outside, there are also guidelines regarding how long cooked food, or salads containing mayonnaise, can be kept outside.
With a little practice, all of these guidelines to safe grilling will quickly become second nature.
More grilling tips , techniques, recipes, and menus. Brian Hill is the author of several nonfiction books and an avid grill master. He also loves to garden and uses many of his homegrown herbs in his marinades.