Is it safe to cook meat very briefly then re-refrigerate it for 24 hours?
March 9, 2009 5:42 PM   Subscribe

FoodSafetyFilter: Making duck confit. Threw a few legs into the 200 degree melted fat then realized I didn't have enough fat to cover them all completely. Panicked for 3 or 4 minutes, realized it's too late to go out and buy more fat, then decided my only option (aside from chucking $40 worth of meat) was to pull the legs out, blot them with paper towels, and throw them back in the fridge until tomorrow when I can get more fat. Question: Am I going to kill myself and all of my dinner guests with some horrible foodborne bacteria?

My gut (forgive the expression) tells me it will be fine since the legs will be cooked for 3 hours tomorrow, doubly so because the legs were cured in salt for the last 24 hours, and triply so because this preparation was meant to be stored for up to several months. Yet the overly-cautious American food consumer in me says "If you eat this food you will almost certainly die."

Again, they were in the oil (again, around 200 degrees) for about 5 minutes tops. The first one I had thrown in had just started to turn color, and the last looked pretty much raw. I know it's certainly not best practice and almost definitely wouldn't fly in a restaurant, but assuming I grab another 2 pounds of fat tomorrow and get these things cooked 24 hours from now, will that be alright?
posted by hypocritical ross to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
No chef would risk the liability in a restaurant. You'd be asking for some foodborne ilness, and to prevent it (i.e. if you keep cooking), you'll ruin the integrity of your product. With that said, slow cooling this stuff is just as bad...

I'd pull half and ice those down - quickly, reduce the size of my container to increase the depth of fat, and cook as many as possible tonight as properly as possible tonight.

Fat does act as an anti-bacterial, and old school french charcuterie prior to refrigeration would have you storing the meat out - in the fat... for weeks... but only after it was cooked.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:55 PM on March 9, 2009

oh lord, relax. you could've cooked the legs exposed, as well, rolled 'em around on occasion.

keep in mind that you cook poultry to @around 165-185 to kill off the salmonella, 200 temp fat at 3 hours is friggin plenty of time and temp to wack any bad guys.
posted by Max Power at 6:09 PM on March 9, 2009

Response by poster: Crisis averted. Supermercado down the street sells giant tubs of lard for $3.
posted by hypocritical ross at 6:12 PM on March 9, 2009

Best answer: For that matter, would the little bugs have had sufficient time to reproduce during the time the meat was in the "danger zone" temperature? We're talking perhaps 20 or 30 minutes exposure (5 minutes heating up, 15 cooling down, say). In ideal conditions, you might perhaps one reproductive cycle for the bacteria in that time frame.

Since you've had the meat salted for 24 hours, the bugs are going to start from relatively low levels compared to untreated meat. You also might have gotten the temperature high enough to start killing them faster than they reproduce, also, before you started to lower the temp again. I wouldn't worry.
posted by chengjih at 6:21 PM on March 9, 2009 [1 favorite]

Supermercado down the street sells giant tubs of lard for $3.
Duck confit is made in duck fat.
Otherwise, don't do it and wait for duck fat. About safety: what Max Power said. Relax.
posted by bru at 6:23 PM on March 9, 2009

Oh please, bru.
Duck confit is made in duck fat.
The world doesn't come to an end if he adds some lard to the duck fat. The duck fat's flavor will still be there. It will still be duck confit, just with a little pork fat.
Michael Ruhlman in his book Charcuterie says "if you find that your fat won't cover the duck add shortening or, better, lard to cover."
posted by Jupiter Jones at 9:26 PM on March 9, 2009

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