Shooter Sandwich, left out overnight.
August 10, 2013 6:50 PM   Subscribe

I just made this for a picnic tomorrow. Yeah, it does look awesome. The last page unequivocally states not to refrigerate. I'm a North American, I'm squeamish about things left out. I realize the English aren't fans of cold things, (beer, eggs at the grocery store, ice, etc.) but this seems like looking for trouble. Any opinions? I'm in Vancouver where the temperature is currently in the middle seventies inside the house, so a cool root cellar is available. What to do?
posted by Keith Talent to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I suspect the issue is that if you refrigerate hot steaks in bread bowls, you're going to end up with congealed fat and dry-ish bread, rather than bread softened and flavored by liquified fats (and OMG that sandwich looks awesome). I think you could let them be for six hours, then refrigerate once they're flattened?
posted by jaguar at 7:01 PM on August 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Follow the instructions. You will be fine. It will be delicious.

More specifically, you likely pasteurized both the meat and the veg during the cooking process, and then made the sandwich in a sealed foil tent while everything was still toasty. Anything that "contaminated" the veg or meat between cooking and plating also was likely pasteurized in the heat of the foil tent. It's not like you're leaving this exposed to airborne pathogens overnight.
posted by bfranklin at 7:02 PM on August 10, 2013

You have to refrigerate it. I am also from Vancouver and most people here would freak if they found out you left that out overnight. I think it would be okay to keep in a cool place for six hours, but not till tomorrow. You need to put it in the fridge later today, when it's flat and the liquid has been absorbed.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 7:04 PM on August 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

For the record, I made that recipe (it was in January, but it was warm in the house anyway) and left it out and everybody who ate it was fine. I mean, everything's cooked . . .
posted by ostro at 7:07 PM on August 10, 2013

Yup, I left mine out overnight too and I didn't die. I think I made it in summer? I live in Maryland.
posted by mindsound at 7:09 PM on August 10, 2013

The FDA would tell you it must be refrigerated. The FDA would also tell you that you need to cook your beef until it is shoe leather to make it safe to eat. They are crazy wrong in regard to the latter. You can decide for yourself about the former.
posted by Justinian at 7:17 PM on August 10, 2013 [10 favorites]

You should be fine.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:17 PM on August 10, 2013

Oh, I missed the part about the root cellar. I'd check the temperature in there, as it's a hot day today, but it sounds okay.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 7:20 PM on August 10, 2013

By any contemporary standard of food safety, there's no way that food is OK to sit out at room temperature for 6 hours. This is perhaps a risk you can accept for yourself, but not one you can impose on unsuspecting others.

Lots of anecdata that this recipe "probably" won't make you sick. That level of assurance was about as good as it got in a pre-industrial, pre-refrigeration era. These days, we have a much better understanding of how to make food that is reliably safe, and that recipe does a fine job of ignoring that knowledge.

Bottom line: if you're OK with 19th century food safety practices, this recipe is fine. If you want a modern level of safety, don't leave cooked steaks at room temperature for 6 hours.
posted by Dimpy at 7:39 PM on August 10, 2013 [6 favorites]

I really want you to eat and enjoy this delicious-looking sandwich, and I am a pretty lackadaisical eater myself, but this recipe has you taking warm, just-cooked steak and letting it sit in the insulating and nutrient-rich enviroment of densely packed bread and also-warm mushrooms. The upshot is that you have something that's going to be lingering in the bacteria growth danger zone for many hours.

I think you should refrigerate. Though I am sure it's right that the goal is to prevent a textural change that could make the sandwich soggy, it really should not damage the sandwich experience greatly. It's already a pressed sandwich, like a panini, and those are often kept cold. I've made many variations of things like this, pressed in the fridge in crusty bread, and they are still delicious. I recommend just doing that.
posted by Miko at 7:45 PM on August 10, 2013 [9 favorites]

If I was a guest of yours being presented this delicious sandwich, I'd appreciate being able to choose for myself whether to eat meat left out overnight.

I've had food poisoning, and no, it wasn't worth vomiting for two days just to experience eating the meal. I don't really care if other people ate something like this that sat out overnight and they were fine -- most safety precautions are there to protect us from relatively uncommon things. I've done plenty of unwise things that I was lucky enough not to suffer from.

Also, there is no way this sandwich can be considered pasteurized.
posted by yohko at 7:46 PM on August 10, 2013 [6 favorites]

Would I leave a shooter sandwich out overnight and eat it? Fuck yeah. Would I leave it out overnight and then serve it to other people whose medical status and attitudes towards food I wasn't familiar with? Fuck no.

I'd refrigerate it. The texture will probably suffer a little from it, but not hugely.
posted by kagredon at 7:55 PM on August 10, 2013 [19 favorites]

(although, on the other hand, by the time your steak and mushrooms have been left to cool to room temperature in an insulated bread bowl over several hours, most of the "damage" has already been done.)
posted by kagredon at 8:16 PM on August 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would have absolutely no problem making this sandwich as described and then eating it with gusto if I had a cool root cellar for the sandwich's resting period.
posted by desuetude at 8:25 PM on August 10, 2013

I would store it in the root cellar, eat it, and inform my guests so they can decide what they want to do, assuming there is alternative food for them to eat.

I doubt it'd hurt anyone but some people are more risk-averse and/or or have more delicate stomachs.
posted by randomnity at 9:25 PM on August 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Note: if you have a proper root cellar, the temperature is roughly the same as a fridge. If it's higher than that, you're in food safety problem territory. If it is that you need more space to weigh down the bread, the root cellar sounds like an option. But, again, only if you check the temperature. Otherwise, the food hasn't been stored safely.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 9:51 PM on August 10, 2013

I've made a few shooter's sandwiches myself, and I had the same concerns about leaving them on a Sydney kitchen bench overnight. The few I left out were fine.

I suspect leaving it out heightens the chance of food poisoning from incredibly small to rather small. But it doesn't seem like good practice--a jump from 0.1 to 1 percent chance (numbers I just completely made up) is still a worry when you roll those dice three meals a day.

So I started putting my shooters in the fridge overnight and they taste fine. As a bonus this let me press them by putting the sandwich between two plates and squishing them between the smallest shelves of the fridge.

By the way, if you find the steaks too chewy, try a chicken version. I put down a layer of leg meat, spinach leaves (raw, the heat and oil from the chicken will cook it enough) some mayo (I use this wasabi mayo from Harris Farm--it's mayo that says 'I love you but don't make me hurt you'), a thin layer of prosciutto cooked crispy, another layer of chicken and some more mayo to glue the top on.

These sandwiches get me invited to a lot of picnics. I imagine the conversation goes:

'We need to invite that guy who makes the sandwiches.'

'Yes. I like those sandwiches... guy.'
posted by fonetik at 4:36 AM on August 11, 2013 [14 favorites]

Also, there is no way this sandwich can be considered pasteurized.

Never suggested the finished product was pasteurized, just that the cooked components were starting from a place of pasteurization.

Did a little further digging on this, and it looks like 6 hours is probably right on the outside edge of where official food safety guidelines would say this is good to eat. Food safety guidelines allow for holding foods at > 135 or < 41 degrees F indefinitely. Once outside that range, the rule of thumb appears to be 4 hours for cooked foods.

So a lot is going to depend on how insulating the bread + foil is, and what temp the meat started at, and at what point the core temp of the sandwich drops below 135.

Also note that if you did use the root cellar, the time the sandwich spent cooling from 135 to 40 counts against your 4 hours.

If you do it again, one way around it would be to hold the sandwich in your oven on its "keep warm" setting, which (at least for my oven) is about 150. The other option is to keep the components separate in ziploc bags, cool in an ice bath, refrigerate, and then reheat in a water bath to pasteurize. Compress the meat while holding in the fridge, and then compress the entire sandwich when assembling with a very heavy weight to speed the process.

That said, I'd still eat this sandwich, left out overnight, in a heartbeat. Food safety guidelines are conservative by necessity. And it's a sandwich -- something normally loaded with charcuterie, which are meats that have been held in the danger zone for _weeks_.
posted by bfranklin at 5:31 AM on August 11, 2013

Germs that cause food poisoning don't crawl (very far), fly or drill through aluminum foil.
posted by 445supermag at 6:46 AM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have seen and used a fair number of root cellars in my day, but I've never seen a root cellar that could get to or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If it's like most root cellars, a section of basement or dug into earth or stone below the house or outbuilding, then it runs about 55 degrees, which is the usual underground temperature across the temperate latitudes for most of the year. That's 15 degrees into the danger zone, and "overnight" is longer than 6 hours. The cooler temperature will slow but not prevent the proliferation of any harmful bacteria.

Again, it's too much of a definite risk, and you're serving others. Just use it in the fridge - conditions in the fridge are a little cooler and that will minimize the risk without creating a significantly different result.
posted by Miko at 7:58 AM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

You cooked the steak to medium rare? Then left it on a counter for 24-30 ish hours? I would not eat that.

Making this in the morning, to be enjoyed for lunch is a different thing all together.

I'd say leave it on the counter until room temp, maybe 2 hours. Then refrigerate. Then bring back to room temp while serving.
posted by fontophilic at 10:55 AM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Germs that cause food poisoning don't crawl (very far), fly or drill through aluminum foil.

They don't have to crawl, fly, or drill through. They are right there in the food, even after you cook it. Bacterial spores can easily survive normal cooking temperatures. Cooking kills growing bacteria, but not their spores. This is why canned food must be sterilized under pressure, to kill the spores.
posted by Ery at 12:33 PM on August 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

I have made several of these lovelies and have both refrigerated and not-refrigerated them, as whim has taken me. So far, so good. But if you're squeamish,refrigerate! They're fine that way, and you don't want to be afraid of your food. At least, not too afraid.

Incidentally, this vegetarian version is delicious as well.
posted by mumkin at 10:42 PM on August 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

I made one of these a few months ago, didn't refridgerate, and we're fine! I think it would dry out in the fridge.
posted by drunkonthemoon at 12:50 AM on August 12, 2013

Response by poster: Didn't refrigerate. Everyone is fine. I suspect the fridge would spoil the texture. The compressed steak remains beautifully tender. On to the question if it's the finest sandwich on earth? Doubtful in a world where banh mi continues to exist.
posted by Keith Talent at 10:03 AM on August 12, 2013 [5 favorites]

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