Can this Pork Knuckle be Saved?
September 16, 2012 11:20 AM   Subscribe

I purchased a rotisserie roasted pork knuckle at the Farmer's Market yesterday. I unfortunately neglected to pay attention to the prep instructions on the scribbled note at the stand. When I got home, I got out the slow cooker and started throwing stuff in...the meat and knuckle bone, a ham hock that I had stored in the freezer, a bunch of shredded carrots, cabbage, a cut up onion, 2 cut up apples, some seasoning, and a beer poured over the whole thing. I left it slow cooking for about 8 hours, then on warm overnight. When I got up this morning, the slow cooker was off and it was room temperature. Two questions: 1. is it safe to eat? 2. It doesn't really seem edible in it's current state. There's not a lot of liquid but what there is is mostly fat. It smells good but looks like a mushy mess. Is it salvageable for any purpose? Can I do something else to it to make it a broth base? Bonus question: I pulled the crispy skin off and stuck it in the refrigerator separately. Suggestions on what to do with that?
posted by ms_rasclark to Food & Drink (9 answers total)
1. Sorry, no. It's been in the food safety "danger zone" for however long it took to coast from 140 F to room temp, plus however long it's been at room temp. Please don't eat it!
posted by ftm at 11:29 AM on September 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'll leave the food safety question to others, but it's definitely salvageable. What I would do is get a big strainer and pass the whole mess through, pressing on the solids to get as much liquid out as possible. Then I'd discard the solids and put the liquid in the fridge. The fat should then solidify as a layer on top of the liquid. Remove the fat and either discard or use for cooking. What you have left should be useable as a stock after seasoning with salt and pepper.
posted by peacheater at 11:32 AM on September 16, 2012

Response by poster: What about the bones? Can they be used for a bone broth or is all the good stuff already leached out of them from their first pass in the slow cooker? What if I heat it all up to a boil and strain it? Still dangerous?
posted by ms_rasclark at 11:33 AM on September 16, 2012

Response by poster: And if I should again succumb to puchasing one of these roasted pork knuckes again, how can I do better next time.
posted by ms_rasclark at 11:35 AM on September 16, 2012

how can I do better next time

You don't overcook them. Even in a slow cooker 8hrs plus overnight keeping warm was only ever going to give you mush if cooking food that has already been cooked, which most of your stuff had been.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:38 AM on September 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

In France, when I buy jambonneau, i.e. pig knuckle, I also buy sauerkraut and roasted potatoes. Serve everything warm. See here and here.

You seem to have been cooking yours like a smoked ham hock, which requires lengthy slow cooking.
posted by shoesietart at 12:02 PM on September 16, 2012

Best answer: Technically you can make it safe to eat - if you have the tools - but trust me it is not worth it.

I ran into a similar situation with a pile of really awesome grassfed beef that sat in warm water overnight. I actually got help and looked up the numbers to pasteurize them and make them safe to eat (ended up being something like 175 degrees for five hours based on weight and length of time it's been in the danger zone) and tried it out. My advantage is that I have a sous vide machine to control the exact temperature, so there was no room for error.

The food was, um, safe to eat technically, but totally inedible, tasteless, and utterly dry. The juices that collected mixed with the seasonings and tasted totally off (probably due to the lengthy high-heat cooking of the seasonings). This was amazing meat. It was completely unsalvageable. I would not wish that experience on anyone.

So even if you did figure out a way to make it safe to eat, you would not want to eat it.

You would probably have to cook the skin for too long that all the fat would have melted away and I don't know what you'd be left with, so I would just throw that out. I doubt it's at all worth it to try to do this just to reserve the bone for broth later - you can buy bones by themselves for cheap enough without risking food poisoning.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 3:03 PM on September 16, 2012

Best answer: "Liquid nutrient broth" is a good medium for bacterial growth, so I would definitely not eat it. Even if you could heat the food enough to kill the bacteria, you can't get rid of the toxins they produce, which can also make you sick.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 3:09 PM on September 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Okay, so I'm going to toss the whole thing...except the skin which I peeled off before I started ruining the rest of it and stuck it in the refrigerator until I could figure out what to do with it. It's already roasted and a bit crispy, but I'll bet it could be crispier and better. It will be an expensive piece of pig skin (I paid $8.00 for the pork knuckle, not to mention all the other ingredients I threw at it) so I would like to do whatever would make it as amazing as possible.
posted by ms_rasclark at 5:04 PM on September 16, 2012

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