Why You Shouldn’t Be Partially Grilling Meat Before Refrigerating

by Michael Freeman

With Labor Day behind us, as well as most grilling events for the year, it may be a good time to read up on the craft. One thing some people do to save time later is partially grill meat and poultry before refrigerating it. It turns out that is a big mistake.

Though it’s popular to prepare things like salad, desserts, and sides, don’t do the same with meat and poultry, the CDC says. However, cutting the meat into serving sizes and/or marinating it ahead of time is a good idea. The FDA and USDA don’t include this fact in their grilling tips, curiously enough.

Nonetheless, the USDA does talk about partially grilling and its adverse effects. “Never brown or partially cook meat or poultry to refrigerate and finish later because any bacteria present would not have been destroyed. It is safe to partially cook meat and poultry in the microwave or on the stove only if the food is transferred immediately to the hot grill to finish cooking.”

Partially cooking it is in fact one of the worst things you can do to the food. The radical changes in temperature cause bacteria to grow rapidly. As these bacteria grow, they can produce toxins the heat cannot destroy when you grill the food later.

Similar to grilling, a microwave oven can thaw meat and poultry, but you must cook it immediately afterward. The microwave often partially cooks parts of the food but doesn’t get it hot enough to destroy the bacteria.

The bottom line is regardless of your method, if you partially cook meat or poultry, do not save it for later.

Up Your Grill Game With These Essential Tips

Besides not refrigerating partially cooked meat, there are other crucial tips when preparing to grill.

While it may seem obvious, make sure you have enough propane if using a gas grill. Waiting until it’s time to cook to check could leave you with some unhappy guests.

Another tip, especially now, is to wash and sanitize both your hands and your grilling space. Besides being sanitary, watching someone grill who clearly hasn’t cleaned their hands will spoil an appetite quickly. It’s also prudent to keep a fire extinguisher nearby, just in case.

Regarding prep, chop and season veggies before lighting the grill. Also, a good way to make sure your grill is nonstick is by getting a few potatoes and rubbing them along the hot grill grates. Light meats and fish tend to stick, so this is a handy tip.

Another thing to try is to make your grill a smoker. By adding applewood chunks or hickory to your charcoal grill, you can make it a smoker. Cooking meat like chicken, brisket, or ribs this way can give it a distinct, smokey flavor. For something bigger, try putting coals and wood on the side, then place an aluminum pan in the middle to catch drippings.

With these tips, you’ll be a master of the grill in no time!