For Kansas farmers and ranchers, the start of summer includes green grass, newborn calves and hard work to produce safe, nutritious beef for consumers around the world.
With 6.3 million cattle on ranches and farms in the state, Kansas is regarded as the center of beef cattle country, and Gov. Sam Brownback has declared May as Kansas Beef Month.
More than 30,000 beef producers across the state invite families to celebrate Kansas Beef Month by enjoying a steak from the grill.
The beef industry has a major economic impact. In 2010, Kansas farmers generated $6.53 billion in cash receipts, making it one of the most important industries to local economies.
"Grilling is one of the best ways to eat beef," says Chef Ray Comiskey, chef partner of The Capital Grille in Kansas City, Mo. "Remember, when selecting your steaks look for something that is heavily marbled — marbling equals flavor."
When grilling at home, follow these summer grilling tips from the Kansas Beef Council for great summer steaks and burgers:
Cook over coals that are the proper temperature to ensure the meat cooks evenly; if coals are too hot, meat can char on the outside and still be raw inside.
For charcoal grilling, when coals are ash-covered (approximately 30 minutes), spread them in a single layer and check the cooking temperature.
To check the temperature, cautiously hold the palm of your hand above the coals at cooking height. Count the number of seconds you can hold your hand in that position before the heat forces you to pull it away; approximately four seconds is medium heat.
Gas grill brands vary greatly and grilling times may need to be adjusted, so consult your owner's manual for specific grilling information.
For best flavor and texture, grill meats just until they reach the desired degree of doneness; do not overcook.
Use an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into the side of burgers and steaks to check doneness. Thermometer should penetrate the thickest part or center of the burger or steak.
Cook steaks to 145°F (medium rare) or 160°F (medium).
Cook burgers to at least 160°F. The color of cooked ground beef is not a reliable indicator of doneness.