These are some basic rules that should keep your meat and other foods safe.
- Keep frozen foods frozen
- Thaw in the refrigerator or
- Thaw under cold running water
- Raw meat should be kept covered at a temperature of 45° or less.
- Meat should be kept in its original package or in a clean covered pan prior to being cooked.
- Do not cross contaminate meats with other meats or other foods. (i.e.: pork with chicken or beef with veggies)
Cross contamination pertains to prep areas as well as knives and other utensils. (i.e.: wash the counter and the knife after you quarter your chicken and before you chop your onions.) Prep non meat items before you prep meat items.
Food temperature is extremely important. It took us a long time to realize how important a food thermometer really is. The best style of thermometer for checking internal temps is inserted into the meat, touching no bone, temperature read, and thermometer removed. It is important to wipe (alcohol swab) the stem of the thermometer clean after each use, if not, you run the risk of cross contamination.
Meat should be cooked until it has an internal temperature of 140°+.
- Pork (shoulder, butt, ham) 180°+
- Pork (ribs, loin, chops, tenderloin) 160°
- Beef (brisket) 180°
- Beef (tenderloin, rib-roast) (rare) 130°
- Beef (med-rare) 135°-140°
- Beef (medium) 150°-155°
- NOTE: Ground Beef should be cooked at least medium (155°) or more.Ground beef is the primary culprit for carrying the E. Coli bacteria.
- Turkey (whole) 180°
- Turkey (breast) 165°
- Chicken 165°
All types of meat should be held (kept warm) at 140° after cooking! If you are reheating meat, should reach 160°.
Please follow these Health Department guidelines to ensure the safety of your family and friends!
Wood & Smoke Tips
Some folks prefer burning wood and wood coals and not using charcoal at all. This is a great method of smoking and firing up your cooker, sort of a purist way, but it is time consuming and a little labor intensive. Basically you burn the hardwood in a barrel with a grate in the bottom. This is similar to a very large charcoal chimney or firebox. As the hot embers drop to the bottom of the barrel they are scooped up and shoveled into the cooker. Pellets made of hardwood sawdust is a new and very effective way to fuel your cooker.
The most popular method of providing smoke to your cooker is using a combination of charcoal and wood. How much wood should I use? Well, the ratio of charcoal to wood can range anywhere from 50% charcoal up to 98% charcoal. It is personal preference on how much wood you want to burn. We will typically burn 15%-20% hickory with our charcoal. An 80:20 ratio of charcoal to hickory.
Why use wood at all? Wood generates smoke and the smoke is what really gives the meat that true barbeque flavor. The more wood that you burn, the more smoke, the more smoke flavor in your barbeque.
You should be able to visually see a smoke ring in your meat when it is done. The smoke ring turns the meat closest to the outside a real pretty pink color. The smoke ring will normally be 2 to 4 inches or more deep into the meat. If you don’t burn any wood you’ll get no smoke ring.
For those of you using a gas grill, purchase a Wood Chip Smoker Box (see Go Shopping). Fill the box with wood chips and place the box directly on the lava rocks or grease shield, below the meat grate. The chips will ignite and produce the smoke you need to flavor the meat.
NOTE: A raw piece of meat will take the smoke much better than a piece that is close to being done. We recommend that you go heavy with the smoke in the early stages of the cooking process and continue moderate to light smoke throughout the remainder of the cook time.