A Complete Guide to Cooking Meat Safely

How to Cook Meat Safely - CookinGenie blog

28 Sep 2021

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A Complete Guide to Cooking Meat Safely

There are many foods that can cause illness when handled incorrectly, but one of the most common instances of serious foodborne illness comes from the undercooking or mishandling of meat. Raw meat is often full of fecal matter from the animal, which can contain a host of bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens. Because of this, it is crucial to handle raw meat carefully and cook it to a safe temperature to kill as many pathogens as possible. If not, an undercooked piece of meat can easily get someone sick.

While this may sound simple, there are some intricacies to cooking meat safely, and not all meats are safe to eat at the same temperature. Here are some of the key things to remember when cooking meat and how some of the most popular meats need to be cooked in order to be safe to serve.

Keep raw meats separate from other foods—including other meats

It’s common sense that the juices from raw meat should stay away from fresh produce but it’s also good practice to keep raw meat away from other raw meat. As you’ll see with the minimum required internal temperatures, not all meats are safe at the same time. Chicken, for example, needs to be cooked more than steak. So, if you get the juices from raw chicken over your steak, the steak may be cooked all the way through, but the residual juice from the chicken may not be.

Also be sure to use separate cutting boards and utensils for different kinds of meat, wash your hands after handling raw meat, and disinfect any surfaces the meat may have come into contact with.

Minimum required internal temperatures

Poultry, like chicken and turkey requires the most cooking, while pork, beef, lamb, and seafood requires less. Note that ground meat of any kind requires more cooking than a whole piece of the same meat. This is because ground meat, with an increased surface area and the potential to come from more than one individual animal, has more exposure to bacteria. To take the temperature of a protein, insert a clean, sanitized thermometer into the thickest part of the meat and wait for the thermometer to read a temperature. For many meats, the meat needs to hold that temperature for a given period of time before it’s considered safe.

Also note that after you remove your meat from the heat, it will continue to cook for several more minutes in a process known as carry-over cooking, which will raise the internal temperature 5-10⁰F, so if your meat is a couple degrees under the minimum required internal temperature when you measure it, it’ll be safe to serve by the time you eat it.

The following are the minimum required internal temperatures for different proteins.

Poultry—Including whole or ground chicken, turkey, or duck: 165⁰F for at least 15 seconds

This also includes any stuffing inside of a bird (think thanksgiving) as well as any casseroles, stuffed pastas, or stuffed chicken breasts. When temping whole birds, make sure to insert the thermometer underneath the thigh, which is the thickest part of the bird.

Ground meat—Including beef, pork, lamb, veal, and ground seafood: 155⁰F for 15 seconds

Note that a medium burger is 140-145⁰F, and a well-done burger is 160⁰F.Eating a burger less than well-done could increase your chances of getting sick, which is why restaurants have the note at the bottom of their menus denoting the increased risk of foodborne illness from consuming undercooked meat.

Injected meat/brined meat—Including brined hams and roasts injected with flavor: 155⁰F for 15 seconds

Eggs that are meant to be held hot: 155⁰F for 15 seconds
Eggs that are to be served immediately: 145⁰F for 15 seconds

Chops/steaks of red meat—Including beef, lamb, veal, and pork: 145⁰F for 15 seconds

All of these meats will be a little pink at this temperature, but they’re safe to eat. A medium-rare steak is between 130-135⁰F, so there is a higher risk associated with eating steak under medium.

Whole roasts of pork, beef, veal, or lamb: 155⁰ for 4 minutes

Make sure to insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the roast. Because roasts are much bigger, the temperature needs to hold much longer to ensure it’s cooked through.

Whole seafood—Including whitefish, shellfish, and crustaceans: 145⁰F for 15 seconds

This applies to whole pieces of fish and shellfish/crustaceans such as shrimp, crab, and lobster. With bivalves such as mussels or clams, there is no need to measure temperature, they are safe when the shells open.

The bottom line

Overall, cooking meat to safe temperatures is a very simple, but very important task in the kitchen. Having a digital thermometer makes everything easier. If you’re unsure of how the meat needs to be cooked, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and slightly overcook a piece of meat than to get someone sick. When you book a chef from CookinGenie, you can trust that they’ll cook your meat so that it’s not only safe to eat, but also delicious.


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29 Oct 2019

Food waste is a growing problem in America. According to a recent study, the average American family of four discards nearly $1600 in discarded produce alone annually. That’s right this post is ode to all those banana’s who never became banana bread. That number is not including dairy, meat or grain waste which are also high on the list. What would it mean for your family to have $133 more in your bank account every month? Factor in dairy, meat, and grain waste and that number climbs much higher.

The waste is also an environmental problem. It contributes to the releasing of dangerous gases as it decomposes in landfills. It’s estimated that one third of all food grown is lost or wasted. In fact, some food is left to rot in fields, shipped to feed livestock, or sadly shipped directly to landfills because it’s not cosmetically pleasing to average Americans. That’s right, we only buy pretty tomatoes. If a fruit or vegetable looks strange, grows oddly or has a blemish, consumers won’t purchase it – even when it’s perfectly fine to eat.

Additionally, families are purchasing food with every intent to use it, but life gets in the way. We’ve all done it. Making dinner was too much work so we grabbed dinner on the way home. Fast forward to the weekend and you’re dumping soggy lettuce out of your crisper drawer before you head to the grocery store to stock up for a new week.

There are lots of creative solutions out there. Some families have taken to composting, or meal prepping to try to cut down on food waste. There is one more solution on the table that more and more families are considering. That is hiring a CookinGenie – someone who shops & cooks your favorite foods – right in your own kitchen.

So how does that address the issue of food waste? Our Genies approach food purchasing, prep, and waste differently. They can use leftovers to cook for the next family on their schedule.

Many times, food waste is a result of not knowing how to create a meal around unused portions. Half an onion and some chicken bones? A family would dispose of that. An experienced cook would make chicken stock for a later meal. Hire our genies allow him or her to shop for highly consumable food items in bulk, he or she will only serve you the food you and your family will want to eat. This is the best use of all the food purchased, effectively reducing food waste immensely. Not to mention cost effective, even with the cost of hiring a person you will most likely end up saving money instead of throwing it away in the form of food that has gone bad and eating meals out. Remember if you are spending less than $1600 a year on this service, you’ll be saving money. Just something to chew on. We look forward to cooking for you & your family once our lives return to normal from the current COVID-19 crisis.

References:
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/americans-waste-nearly-a-pound-of-food-each-per-day-study-finds/

Households Lose Up to $1,600 a Year in Food Waste, U of G Study Reveals

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26 Oct 2019

Lentils are one of the staple ingredients of Indian (& middle eastern) cuisine and with good reason.

Lentils, often referred to as Dal are really any type of split pulses (or legumes) A pulse refers to the dry edible seeds of the pod. (such as lentils, beans or peas) They are typically offered in a few ways, whole, split, some with skin some without.

The benefits of these are endless. Not only are they tasty but they add a nutrient dense component to any meal. To take a quick look at their nutritional profile they are high in protein and low in fat, high in fiber, as well as complex carbohydrates, and they are generally gluten-free (depending on farming techniques). Not to mention they are high in vitamins and minerals and they are even considered heart healthy. It’s such a powerful component to add to a meal.

Furthermore, lentils contain phytochemicals. Many of which protect against chronic diseases such as Heart Disease or Type 2 Diabetes. They also contain Polyphenols which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Studies have shown a link between eating lentils and lowered blood sugar.

They are also extremely popular if you are a vegan or vegetarian. Lentils pack an impressive number of vitamins and minerals. Also, when paired with rice, they are considered a complete protein. Meaning it can be a guilt free staple to your diet. Traditionally this is a dish that is often served to babies when they first start eating solid foods because it is soft, easily digested and nutrient dense.

Red Lentils are probably one of the most common types in Indian Cuisine and can easily be found in most grocery stores. They can be sprouted and used in curries and soups and rice dishes. They are popular because of their versatility. Probably equally important to Indian cuisine are yellow lentils. They are an incredible source of B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Often used in curry, sautéed with onions and garlic. These heart healthy foods can add extra nutrients to so many dishes.

Are you wondering where this superfood has been all your life? Believe it or not it’s probably sitting on the shelf of your local grocery store right now. You may feel intimidated about soaking, sprouting, and slow cooking these. Or maybe you are hung up on all the many varieties and benefits without being sure of which flavors will pair best. Our Genies can be an answer. Let us demonstrate how to incorporate this new ingredient into your diet. Ask all the questions you want and learn by watching us cook this fresh right in your kitchen. You might have just discovered a new favorite food, and your health will benefit too! You can’t go wrong. Call us today!

References:

Indian Pulses – A quick guide to lentils, beans and peas

Basics of Indian Cooking: Dal (Beans and Lentils)

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/lentils

 

 

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Guests with Food - CookinGenie

28 Sep 2021

Cooking for someone with a severe food allergy can be intimidating. And with food allergies on the rise, it’s becoming more common than ever. You want people to enjoy your food. But you would never want to be responsible for giving someone a severe allergic reaction.

Thankfully, with the right knowledge and planning, cooking for guests with severe food allergies doesn’t have to be daunting. It will take some extra steps, but it’s always better safe than sorry. Here are some things to remember before cooking for guests with food allergies.

Know your allergens and their severity

People can have food allergies to just about anything. But food allergies, which are not the same as food sensitivities and intolerances, are not all created equal. Some people have allergies with mild symptoms like hives and a stomachache. Others may have allergies that could cause life-threatening anaphylactic shock, which may include dangerous symptoms like a swelling throat, fainting, wheezing, and trouble breathing.

While all allergies have the potential to be severe, certain ingredients are far more likely to cause extreme reactions. The 8 most common severe allergens are milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and wheat.

It’s important to understand the complexities of these allergies. Someone who’s allergic to milk can’t eat other milk-derived products such as cheese, yogurt, or ice cream. And while some of these allergies sound very similar, they can be different. For example, someone may be allergic to almonds, but not peanuts. Or they may be allergic to shrimp and scallops, but salmon is fine. Whatever the case may be, make sure you talk to your guests and understand exactly what it is they’re allergic to.

Avoid allergens entirely in the meal

Some people tend to think that if a guest has an allergy, they can just leave out that ingredient for that guest and it’ll be fine. While this may be true for some, in cases of severe allergies, the allergic person may not even need to directly consume the allergen to have a dangerous reaction. For example, an invisible trace of peanuts that can be spread through the air onto a dish may be enough to trigger an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts. So, if possible, it’s best to leave the allergen out of the entire meal, even for those who aren’t allergic to it.

Check labels

Reading labels can be a pain, but it’s an important safeguard against allergic reactions. Sometimes ingredients can have unexpected allergens. For example, Worcester sauce, which is a popular condiment for steak and burgers, often contains anchovy paste, making it unsuitable for people with seafood allergies. But, by the name, look, and flavor it, you would never know, making reading the labels all the more important. By law, common allergens are bolded on the bottom of the label, making it easier to identify them.

Additionally, because just a trace amount of an allergen can cause a reaction, you need to watch out for any possible exposure. Some foods, like prepackaged cookies, may not actively contain nuts but may be processed in the same facility as almonds. In this case, those cookies would not be safe to serve to someone with a severe nut allergy.

Clean and sanitize the kitchen

Before beginning to cook for someone with a severe food allergy, be sure to thoroughly clean and sanitize the kitchen, including surfaces and utensils you will use. There’s no telling if there may be trace amounts of the allergen floating around the kitchen. So, to be safe, give everything a good cleaning beforehand.

Be prepared for the worst-case scenario

If you take all the proper steps to protect against food allergies, you should have nothing to worry about. But just in case, you should be prepared to handle a severe allergic reaction. Make sure any guests with food allergies are carrying their EpiPen on them. Also ensure that someone in your party knows how to properly inject an EpiPen as the person having the reaction may not be capable of injecting it themselves.

The EpiPen will help immediately ease the symptoms of the reaction. While one person is injecting the victim with the EpiPen, someone else should call 911 to get the victim professional medical aid. While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, try to keep the victim calm while lying on their back.

Anaphylactic reactions are scary, but if handled properly, everything should turn out fine. Less than 1% of anaphylactic reactions from food are fatal, according to the national institute of health.

CookinGenie takes allergies seriously

At CookinGenie, the chefs know that protecting customers from allergies is of the utmost importance and they’re experienced in cooking for people with serious allergies. Genies can modify orders to fit around allergies and the support team will work with every customer to craft the best meal.

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