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Partial cook, rapid chill meats and poultry.


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I have been partially grilling at high temps and rapidly chilling meats and poultry, then holding in the fridge for final pastuerization cooking later in the day for awhile now, and honestly thought this was safe due to the high grill temps killing off surface bacteria instantly, and rapidly chilling in below 35F degrees ice water, then stored in a roughly 37F degree fridge. Now im reading this is not safe and food should be pastuerized immediately before chilling. Have i been dodging a bullet this whole time, or is my method on the border line of safe/dangerous?

Im using sous vide method for pastuerization. Following douglas baldwins temp/time charts.

Edited by FeChef (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

According to Sanitization classes in school, There's a roughly 4 hr (total) window of safety inside the "danger zone" of 40-140 F

I've done what you do for years & years & years - not even cooling in an ice bath, just giving it some time to cool on the counter until it's okay to go into the 'fridge without heating it up.

In addition to that experience, I lived on a 35' sailboat for 10 yrs. & found that most refrigeration paranoia these days is just that: paranoia. Example: when provisioning, I'd buy small jars of things like mayo. Once opened, it would stay on the shelf in the tropics until used (I rarely made mayo on the boat - eggs too precious). That might be a couple of weeks - Never had one go bad.

My (long term) experience is that you are not dodging any bullets with what you're doing.

But I'm curious....why do you sear/par-cook first & then SV, rather than vice verrsa?

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There are many on-line resources provided by both State and Federal Agencies for Food Safety Standards.

I would consult those as the providers have the expertise and have conducted testing on Safety Standards.-Dick

I think this is excellent advice, though the authors of Modernist Cuisine found that there were errors in the FDA resources. In addition, they are likely to present fairly conservative handling guidelines which may actually make someone more paranoid.

Whilst I have read Modernist Cuisine in entirety, I cannot say that I have completely digested all the information, so I cannot comment authoritatively. Others here on eGullet should be able to help because they understand the health issues very well. But my thinking is that what you are doing, FeChef, is totally fine. After all, you are pasteurizing the meat during the sous vide process. That doesn't totally sterilize the food, but it should render it safe enough for general consumption.

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I prefer to sear first, then SV, then sear again after because it develops a better crust and more robust flavors. Its my opinion and nobody will ever change that. That said, sometimes i want to vacuum pack and freeze so its more convienent to sear first, SV, then chill/vac/freeze. Thanks for the opinions on food safety. Im more inclined to side with furzzy on this mainly because ive been doing it for so long with no ill results. Actually I had one bad incident with SV raw frozen short ribs for 48 hours at 132F. There must have been some bacteria on the short ribs before they were frozen and it grew during that 48 hour bath. If i would have thawed, and seared them first, I probably would have killed that bacteria and it never would have been spoiled after those 48 hours. Another reason i sear first.

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I prefer to sear first, then SV, then sear again after because it develops a better crust and more robust flavors.

Very interesting...I didn't catch the double sear from your first post. I can see that the double sear could ramp up the flavor.

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Very interesting...I didn't catch the double sear from your first post. I can see that the double sear could ramp up the flavor.

You caught right, I did not mention in my original post about double searing, mainly because I am/was freezing after pasteurization. The second sear would come after "rethermalization" before serving.

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IMHO, your experiences are spot on re: food safety. Don't know when I'll have a chance, but I'm going to keep in mind your double searing technique. So many times it's nice to put up dinner as much as possible early in the day to minimize the chaos "a la minute" in the evening.

This has been avery interesting topic - thanks for bringing it up.

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IMHO, your experiences are spot on re: food safety. Don't know when I'll have a chance, but I'm going to keep in mind your double searing technique. So many times it's nice to put up dinner as much as possible early in the day to minimize the chaos "a la minute" in the evening.

This has been avery interesting topic - thanks for bringing it up.

You are welcome furzzy. I hope you let me and others know of your opinion on proper double searing. If done correctly, the flavors are very deep/robust. And safer for long cooks aswell.

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IMHO, your experiences are spot on re: food safety. Don't know when I'll have a chance, but I'm going to keep in mind your double searing technique. So many times it's nice to put up dinner as much as possible early in the day to minimize the chaos "a la minute" in the evening.

This has been avery interesting topic - thanks for bringing it up.

You are welcome furzzy. I hope you let me and others know of your opinion on proper double searing. If done correctly, the flavors are very deep/robust. And safer for long cooks aswell.

Help me out with "proper double searing" to give me a head start. How much on the first sear? I'll probably not SV, so how much if any) of the actual cooking goes with the first sear? Then is the second sear mainly for adding the depth & warming it up? I'd like to start this with the knowledge you've already accumulated, rather than re-inventing the wheel. The more I think about it, the more I'm getting into this idea.

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IMHO, your experiences are spot on re: food safety. Don't know when I'll have a chance, but I'm going to keep in mind your double searing technique. So many times it's nice to put up dinner as much as possible early in the day to minimize the chaos "a la minute" in the evening.

This has been avery interesting topic - thanks for bringing it up.

You are welcome furzzy. I hope you let me and others know of your opinion on proper double searing. If done correctly, the flavors are very deep/robust. And safer for long cooks aswell.

Help me out with "proper double searing" to give me a head start. How much on the first sear? I'll probably not SV, so how much if any) of the actual cooking goes with the first sear? Then is the second sear mainly for adding the depth & warming it up? I'd like to start this with the knowledge you've already accumulated, rather than re-inventing the wheel. The more I think about it, the more I'm getting into this idea.

In my experiences, if using a blow torch, you can get some nice browning on a steak in 30 seconds per side. With a chuck roast or larger roast your looking at around a minute per side, but you kind of have to go by eye. I always go straight from sear to ziplock bag, then right into some ice water to stop carry over, then into the SV for whatever time/temp. After SV I either chill/freeze, or throw on the Infrared grill searing burner for a minute per side and serve immediately.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was shopping and overheard guy telling someone he was one of the USDA food safety scientists. So I asked him your question. After some discussion, he admitted there is nothing inherently dangerous about what you are doing as long as you don't think that searing and refrigerating makes the meat safe to leave in the fridge for longer periods of time. He said partially cooked meat that is refrigerated should be treated just like raw meat, which makes sense I guess.

Talking to this guy was a trip. My wife thinks I am a germaphobe...

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IMHO, your experiences are spot on re: food safety. Don't know when I'll have a chance, but I'm going to keep in mind your double searing technique. So many times it's nice to put up dinner as much as possible early in the day to minimize the chaos "a la minute" in the evening.

This has been avery interesting topic - thanks for bringing it up.

You are welcome furzzy. I hope you let me and others know of your opinion on proper double searing. If done correctly, the flavors are very deep/robust. And safer for long cooks aswell.

Help me out with "proper double searing" to give me a head start. How much on the first sear? I'll probably not SV, so how much if any) of the actual cooking goes with the first sear? Then is the second sear mainly for adding the depth & warming it up? I'd like to start this with the knowledge you've already accumulated, rather than re-inventing the wheel. The more I think about it, the more I'm getting into this idea.

In my experiences, if using a blow torch, you can get some nice browning on a steak in 30 seconds per side. With a chuck roast or larger roast your looking at around a minute per side, but you kind of have to go by eye. I always go straight from sear to ziplock bag, then right into some ice water to stop carry over, then into the SV for whatever time/temp. After SV I either chill/freeze, or throw on the Infrared grill searing burner for a minute per side and serve immediately.

Thanks - not sure when I'll be able to try this, but it's now on my "list" <SS>

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