Tips for eliminating “shoe leather” meat when grilling

Use a marinade to keep meat and poultry moist and tender.

There’s nothing worse than spending time and effort to prepare a meal, including grilled poultry or meat, only to discover the grilled items are dried out and tough. It smelled so good while it was cooking on the grill, it’s very disappointing to say the least.

Two solutions to this dilemma are using a marinade and checking for doneness with a food thermometer.

Marinades can help to add flavor and tenderize meat and poultry, which might have a tendency to be tough or dry out on the grill. They are also useful for meats that will be cooked for long periods of time, for example, in a smoker.

It’s easy to marinade. Simply cover the meat or poultry with your marinade and allow to stand in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Popular marinades include Italian or French salad dressing, vinegars, wine vinegar, wine, tomato sauce, soup or juice, citrus juice like orange or even pickle juice. After marinating, broil, roast or braise the meat until cooked thoroughly. Never serve the leftover marinade that was used for the meat or poultry as a sauce unless it is boiled first.

Michigan State University Extension recommends always refrigerate food while it is marinating to keep food safe. Another food safety tip is to marinate vegetables separate from meat or poultry.

Using a food thermometer to determine doneness can prevent overcooking poultry and meats. Check the food frequently toward the end of the cooking time. It is important to use a thermometer because it is not always possible to determine if food is fully cooked just by looking at it. Reaching the proper temperature will prevent bacteria such as E. coli or salmonella from making a visit to your home and causing illness.

Ground meat should always by cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Other cuts of meat such as steaks, roasts and chops should be cooked to 145 F followed by a 3 minute rest time. Poultry should be cooked to at least 165 F.

Use these tips to enjoy a tasty and safe grilled meal.

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