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How to Cheat on the Grill (and not kill anyone)

Hi everyone!

Well, what a few weeks that has been eh? The team and I have been blown away by the positive response to the Featherblade opening, from the bacon-crazy English ex-pats, to the cautiously-curious Americans, and everyone in-between, it's been an absolute pleasure meeting and getting to know everyone so far. It's only been 5 weeks but already we're adapting and learning what people want or expect from us and we're working to make that happen consistently and to the highest standard. If you also follow us on some social media you'll be kept up to date with what new things are coming your way, including baked goodies like new sausage rolls, meat pies, pasties and pork pies (soon announcing a new team member to help with those), as well as the latest offerings from our grass-fed farms, Santa Carota and Marinsun. Our next whole steer will be arriving next week so if you have any cut requests you can email, text or call us and we'll put you in the book.

Below is a lighthearted approach to grilling that I wrote a while back; enjoy, and again, thank you all for being interested in our little butcher shop on Charleston and Durango, we're happy you're here and we're excited to show you what else we have lined up.

Take care and be safe, Martin.

One of my favourite things about Las Vegas is that it tends to be sunny and hot, sometimes very hot. Even in Winter, it might be a touch cooler, but Madame Sun stays out - she just works less hours. This means I get to use my trusty grill as often as I like. I often use it for slow smoking cooks, but this post is all about standard classic grilling foods over flame or coals. If it isn’t always sunny where you are, you can still fire it up, you just have to be a little more courageous. Grilling in the rain is all good, you’ll just get wet and might have to eat indoors.

At home I use a Weber charcoal grill, it’s pretty basic but versatile enough to accommodate a range of cooking methods. There’ll be a HogBlog in a couple of weeks on the different types of grills and smokers you can utilise.

Anyway, when it comes to grilling, I’m often asked about putting higher risk foods (chicken, sausages, pork) on the open-flame grill or direct heat. The key thing is that those high risk foods are cooked through for safety and all that, and a high heat can make food appear cooked but in reality it’s a raw meaty lump….read on! Note: if you’re using a lid, it means you’re probably using indirect heat and therefore smoking and it’s a lot easier to properly cook high-risk food, just like using a funny shaped outdoor oven. I also know that a lot of people will already understand the tips on this post but it's written for those that don't and ask, so hold off and I might hit you with some advanced endgame level stuff in the coming weeks...

So when I was about 11, I remember we had people around, celebrating the fact that the London Sun had decided to come out to play (the stories of persistent rain and cloud in London are true), and maybe our football team had won or something, by scoring goals, not touchdowns, but the food celebrations are similar. I think a cousin of mine was manning the grill, and I distinctively remember receiving a sausage in a bun that looked black like charcoal but nice and pink in the middle. I mean, I ate it, but now I understand why I didn’t feel so good about 20 minutes later. The second one didn’t help matters either.

Hmmm... Looks cooked

Something thick like a sausage can take 10-15 minutes in a pan so if it’s on an open flame you really have to be careful to ensure its cooked through. Same goes for chicken and pork to a slightly lessor extent. Some science facts about why you shouldn’t eat raw chicken but can chow done on raw steak coming soon.

One path to success is to master the skill of grill-juggling, staggering the meat start-times (longest cooking time on the grill first of course) then keeping them moving around the grill from centre to sides after they’ve received a blast of fire. If you channel the focus of a Jedi knight or Zen master then it’s definitely feasible to get this right, but if you want to cheat a little and almost guarantee success, then I have a small and simple tip. Simply cook them first.

Let’s say you have a menu of steaks, chicken wings, thighs and a few sausages and you want to impress on an open flame. Marinate or season however you want, then throw the latter 3 meats into their own oven-safe dishes and gently bake at a low setting, like 220F. The idea is you want to slowly bring the high-risk meat up to about 150 F as that will kill that pesky vomit-inducing bacteria. If marinating, it also ensures that the marinade cooks nicely into the meat as well. And you can do all of this while waiting for your coals to burn down, sipping your drink and generally being the boss of the party.

When they hit temp and you’re ready to go you can add everything, steaks included to the fire celebration. There’ll still be plenty of lovely juice and fat in the sausages/chicken/whatever to get those flames flying. That’s when you can roll them around the grill, char them a bit, giving you that wonderfully unique barbeque char taste, without the risk of chowing down on a raw sausage like I did back in 1993, or killing Aunt Betty who just wants to enjoy a good sausage.

Aunty will enjoy this one much better

You might feel you’re a fire purist and don’t want to cheat like this and that’s all good, but hey, if it means you can enjoy the party a little more then why not? It’s just another opinion and either way, use your faithful thermometer probe and be safe!

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