1. Keep beef refrigerated. Grilling times are based on beef being taken directly from the refrigerator to the grill – not at room temperature. If you shape burgers in advance, cover and refrigerate until serving time.

2. Temperature matters. Grilling at the appropriate temperature ensures even cooking; medium is usually recommended. If the temperature is too high, beef can char and become overcooked on the outside before the interior reaches the desired doneness. Charring beef is not recommended.

3. Avoid flareups. Trim excess fat from meats to avoid flareups while grilling.

4. Turn properly. Use longhandled tongs for turning steaks; spatulas for burgers. A fork will pierce the beef causing loss of flavorful juices.

5. Use a thermometer. The best way to determine doneness of steaks and burgers is to use an instantread thermometer. It registers in seconds, but is not heatresistant so it cannot be left in food while it cooks. Insert the thermometer horizontally into the center of steaks and burgers to check the internal temperature.

6. Know correct internal temperatures. Cook burgers to at least 160°F (medium doneness), until the centers are no longer pink and the juices show no pink color. Cook steaks to at least 145°F (medium rare doneness). Beef will be very pink in the center and slightly brown toward the exterior.

7. Check steaks visually. The doneness of steaks also can be determined visually by making a small cut near the center with a sharp knife and checking the color. For bonein steaks, make a small cut near the bone.

8. Choose appropriate steaks and know when to marinate. If desired, tender beef steaks can be marinated for 15 minutes or up to 2 hours to add flavor. These include: Porterhouse/ TBone, top loin, tenderloin, ribeye, rib, top sirloin, chuck eye and chuck top blade steaks as well as the new Beef Value Cuts – shoulder top blade (Flat Iron) and shoulder center (Ranch Steak). Less tender steaks should be marinated for at least 6 hours or as long as overnight in a mixture containing a food acid or tenderizing enzyme. These include: flank, skirt, top round and chuck shoulder steaks.

9. Marinating “musts.” Always marinate in the refrigerator. If a marinade has been in contact with uncooked beef, it must be brought to a full rolling boil before it can be eaten as a sauce.

10. Practice food safety. Never take beef off the grill and return it to the same platter that held raw beef unless the platter has been washed in hot soapy water. This food communications program is funded by the Beef Checkoff Program.

TIP: The Fire For Grilling. Before you start the fire, if your grill has bottom vents, open them. For a more even-burning fire, use high-quality charcoal. To determine the number of briquets needed, spread briquets one layer deep on the fire grate, extending them one to two inches beyond the area the food will cover on the cooking rack. Then arrange those briquets in a pyramid shape. Add lighter fluid and carefully light. In about 30 minutes the coals should be ash-covered. Carefully spread them in a single layer with a long-handled tongs and set the cooking grid in place.

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