NDSU Extension - Mercer County


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The Four C's of Grilling Success

grilling meat, best cuts of meat for grilling

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Sciences

We can apply the four C's to meat, if we take a few liberties. We can think about the cut, cookery, quality ("cwaulity") and consumption. I told you some liberties were taken with four C's.

When you choose meat for grilling, remember that certain cuts are most appropriate. This list of cuts appropriate for the grill is listed in order beginning with the most tender cut: tenderloin (fillet mignon), rib-eye steak, rib steak, porterhouse (T-bone) steak, strip steak, top sirloin, flatiron, shoulder tender, chuck eye steak, tri-tip steak, clod steak (boneless arm steak), ball tip steak and tip center steak.

When talking about "cwaulity" (quality), remember these grades for beef from highest to lowest quality: Prime, Top Choice, Choice, Select and Standard. The cuts with a higher grade usually provide you with the best eating experience.

When choosing pork, choose the darker-colored chops because the darker the lean meat, the greater the water retention. That translates to juicy meat when you serve it.

Thawing meat in the refrigerator overnight is the safest option, but you also can thaw a sealed plastic package of meat under cold water. Microwave thawing is a safe method, but it should be done only in an "I forgot to thaw the meat and the guests have arrived" emergency situation. The end product may be less juicy and less tender. Be sure to plan ahead.

Next, season the steak. You don't have to spend a lot of money on special seasonings. Some kosher salt and freshly ground pepper are all you need. The combination of high-quality meat and a grill will result in a delicious main dish.

If you prefer to add a little "kick" to your grilled menu items, try a quick marinade. Marinades can help tenderize the less tender cuts mentioned previously.

Always cook the meat appropriately for quality and safety reasons. Place your steaks on a grill, and bring your tongs so you do not pierce the meat and lose the juices. Close the lid.

Unlike burgers made from ground beef, steaks are safe to eat at a lower internal temperature. For example, a "medium" steak is at a temperature of 145 F and has a pink, warm center, and a medium-rare steak has a red, warm center and an internal temperature of about 130 F. However, be sure to cook burgers made from ground beef to 160 F.

Bring your food thermometer to the grill, and be aware that the internal temperature of the steak will rise as much as 10 degrees after you remove the meat from the grill. Do not stack the steak or cover in foil after cooking because the internal temperature of the steak may rise as much as 25 degrees.

Bring a clean plate to the grill to retrieve your delicious food; it's ready for the final C: consumption!

Marinade recipes are available in "Now Serving: Lean Beef" (available at


Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service food and nutrition specialist

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