Curiosity killed the cat, but damn it tasted good!
May 17, 2010 8:52 PM   Subscribe

Should I eat it? Seared beef cubes, put in crock pot, forgot to plug it in ...


Yesterday afternoon: seared all sides of about 20 stew beef cuts and put in small crockpot with our usual flavorings (salt, pepper, oregano, cumin). Poured boiling hot water from frying pan into crockpot to cover. Forgot to plug in crockpot.

This morning: 18 hours later (probably one or two hours less), remembered. Out of curiosity I plugged it in and went to work.

This evening: It smells delicious. So tender it falls apart on the fork (which is how it usually comes out).
posted by wobh to Food & Drink (26 answers total)
Eat it sez I. But I am notoriously reckless with this type of thing.
posted by Think_Long at 8:54 PM on May 17, 2010

Seconding eat. Enjoy. I would, ymmv, of course. (Got some Mylanta or Pepto around?)
posted by Some1 at 8:59 PM on May 17, 2010

If it smells fine I would eat it.
posted by Carnifex at 9:07 PM on May 17, 2010

I'd eat it. I'd probably be more cautious than I usually am with leftovers, though -- I usually eat stews up to a week later, refrigerated, but in this case I'd set aside whatever you'll eat in the next 3 days or so and freeze the rest.
posted by palliser at 9:11 PM on May 17, 2010

Eat it. Think of it as aged beef. Very fancy.
posted by codswallop at 9:20 PM on May 17, 2010

Eat it, and if it's better than usual, amend your usual recipe to include those extra 18 hours of soaking time.

Boiling water works.
posted by flabdablet at 9:58 PM on May 17, 2010

Wow. Do not eat.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:07 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

You seared all the surfaces? The inside of the cubes has not been exposed to air and critters. The seared surfaces are fine. You're fine. It sounds delicious.
posted by librarina at 10:38 PM on May 17, 2010

All of these yes/no answers bewilder me. It might be fine. But you're taking a chance. What is a surety is that a restaurant couldn't legally serve you those beef cubes here in Canada, being that they've spent 18 hours in the "danger zone", that temperate, bacterial zone between 4 and 60 degrees, and Health Canada tells us that 2 hours is the very longest time food should remain here. However Health Canada tells us never to eat steak tartare or real sushi. Health Canada does not endorse taking your intestinal health in your hands in the pursuit of pleasure. I might sometimes endorse this.
posted by voronoi at 10:54 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Am I missing something? I came in here expecting a resounding chorus of "Hell no," but 7.5 of 9 answers say "go for it." Partially raw meat sat in a moist environment at room temperature for 18 hours. Even if it had been fully cooked, 18 hours at room temperature seems like a pretty clear "do not eat" sign to me. Boiling water may work for canning, but a crockpot is not a hermetically sealed container.

I'm relatively cavalier about food safety, but I would not touch this stuff.
posted by pluckemin at 12:49 AM on May 18, 2010 [10 favorites]

Agree completely with pluckemin. I left food on too long in a crockpot, and ended up feeling like I was gonna of the worst things ever, felt like literally being poisoned.

Chuck it down the toilet and buy a takeaway.
posted by Not Supplied at 1:53 AM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

If meat goes bad, it's taste generally tells you so, in my experience. If it tasted ok, it probably is ok. Of course, IANA health inspector/doctor/etc.

Actually, though, if you've slow cooked it in a crockpot, it's simmered for a good long time. You've probably killed anything that might have been lurking inside. HOWever, I wouldn't save leftovers...

Please do tell us how the experiment turns out. :)
posted by bardophile at 4:24 AM on May 18, 2010

Meh, I'd probably eat it. The searing, and the hot water killed most of the nasties, and the salt acts like a preservative. Worst case, you'll get a stomachache. Its not pork, so I wouldn't worry too much about parasites.
posted by fvox13 at 6:10 AM on May 18, 2010

There should be more shouldieatitfilter.

And I would eat it. Intestinal risks be damned. Carpe Diem! I love you Mom.
posted by mreleganza at 6:10 AM on May 18, 2010

You cooked it first, so it should be fine. Datapoint: my roommate (who is well over 30 and should know better) habitually cooks food with meat in it, then leaves it unrefrigerated on the stove and eats it the next day and sometimes even the day after. I find it revolting and dangerous, but clearly this guy has not yet given himself food poisoning after at least a decade of eating this way.
posted by molecicco at 6:13 AM on May 18, 2010

Eat it.
posted by Biru at 6:15 AM on May 18, 2010

Most if not all foodborne illnesses can be resolved by a good period of high-heat cooking (eg boiling the affected matter for 10-15 minutes), but:

a) who really wants to eat that afterwards?
b) you don't denature all the potential toxins, you just kill the live bacteria.

The real risk is from seafood or poultry (salmonellosis, ciguatera, etc); beef isn't quite so risky. Still, I would have chucked it and made a new one, and I'm happy to eat the bluest cheese you can find.
posted by nonspecialist at 6:21 AM on May 18, 2010

No. Do not eat. The meat was half raw and sat for a long time at the perfect temperature for bacteria to flourish. In this case, it really isn't worth a gamble because on the one hand you are only out $10.00 or so but on the other hand you might be sick as a dog. Do you really want to take that risk?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:25 AM on May 18, 2010 [5 favorites]

Do not eat. A food establishment would be shut down for trying to pull this off, and for good reason. voronoi is right on about the "danger zone."
posted by jmd82 at 6:49 AM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Good morning! Will not eat.
posted by wobh at 7:08 AM on May 18, 2010

Microbiologist here, and I say, "Don't eat it."

Seconding Gravy's comment that it was half raw and that it sat at the nice temp for bacteria. The inactive crockpot (well warmed by the boiling water) is what we call an incubator.
posted by Mercaptan at 7:48 AM on May 18, 2010 [4 favorites]

For future reference:

Still Tasty

When food is cooked and left out for more than 2 hours at room temperature, bacteria can multiply quickly. ">Most bacteria grow undetected because they don’t produce a bad odor or change the color or texture of the food. Freezing food slows or stops bacteria’s growth but does not destroy the bacteria. The microbes can become reactivated when the food is thawed. Refrigeration also can slow the growth of some bacteria. Thorough cooking is needed to destroy the bacteria.

posted by zarq at 8:31 AM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oops. That second link should have pointed to:
posted by zarq at 8:32 AM on May 18, 2010

If shouldIeatthisfilter were a LARP game, I would be officially dead as per my original advice. Stupid microbiology.
posted by Think_Long at 10:21 AM on May 18, 2010

Yeah, this is late but I'm in the "Eat it" camp - and not just because I liked Weird Al in the 80s.

Here's a bit of food science:

Most bacteria grow most rapidly in the range 4-55°C (35-130°F), the Danger Zone, some doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes, and are killed at temperatures above 60°C 140°F. A refrigerator set at 4°C 40°F or below will protect most foods from immediate spoilage;cooking to 60°C 140°F and above will kill almost all organisms

And here's a bit of WikiKnowledge:

A typical slow cooker is designed to heat food to 170°F (77°C) on low, to perhaps 190-200°F (88-93°C) on high.

Yeah, you'd be eating bacteria but it's been cooked at a high enough temp for long enough to be dead. Dead bacteria is what we all aim for, right?
posted by JV at 6:18 PM on May 18, 2010

It's not only the bacteria that is a problem, but also the poisons that the bacteria can produce. Botulism is a great example - you can kill the organism with heat and still be poisoned.
posted by Jupiter Jones at 8:07 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

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