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low temperature cooking

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Thank you so much for your generosity in answering the questions!

In your response to another question, you describe a method for cooking chicken at a lower than usual temperature. Also, in last year's Gourmet article about molecular gastronomy, they described your method for cooking lamb tenderloins at "a shockingly low temperature." The article also says: "To do it safely, [you] employ an arsenal of technical precautions. In other words, don't try this at home."

I'm wondering what those precautions are and if they are something the home cook can do too? Is the primary danger one of bacterial growth?

I imagine the risk is greater with meats served rare rather than with those typically cooked to a higher temperature beyond the upper limit of the danger zone for bacterial growth. Would there be the same dangers in cooking pork as there would be for lamb?

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THere are most definately a number of precautions that need to be taken when cooking meats at lower temperatures.

Chicken, for example needs to be cooked above the temp threshold for salmonela and amylobacter. This needs 64C. Salmonela is killed at prolonged exposure at 65C (say for thirty minutes).

In fact in the production of ice cream there is a method known as LTLT or low temperature long time pasteurisation where the custard is kept at 60C for 45mins.

Having said all of this however, chickens like the ones from Bresse that are pure breeds and not subjected to antibiotics have a far lower salmonela count than the intensively reared nonesense that is available to most of us.

In terms of meat like lamb anf beef. Think about the centre of a rare steak. This will be barely above 40C, significantly lower than the low temperature cooking ranges that I normally advocate.

Indeed much of the risk element comes into play when meat is to be cooked stored and re-heated. In particular Botulinum.

When cooking at home and cooking and serving this is not a problem.

For any of you however that cook sous-vide, this dangerous bacteria loves the absense of air and this can be a potential danger.

This bacteria although surviving in the presence of even salt, can not do so in nitrate salt or the chacuterie-style pink salt.

So, low temp cooking is fine if precautions are followed. I personally feel that 64C is too hot for pork but you need to know the origins of your meat!

Heston Blumenthal

The Fat Duck

The Fat Duck website

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