Did you know that foodborne diseases are the cause of 5,000 deaths in the US alone every year?
If you eat undercooked meat, there’s a big chance that you’ll be spending the next few days on the toilet. Undercooked meat and poultry contain bacteria that are harmful to the human body. Some of these bacteria are E. coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Yersinia, and Clostridium perfringens. These bacteria are more common during the summertime because they thrive in warm weather conditions. As a result, it can be difficult to tell if your meat is cooked properly, even with a thermometer.
When you ingest the bacteria, your body will attempt to fight it off. If it fails, you will begin to exhibit symptoms of food poisoning. One tell-tale symptom that indicates your stomach isn’t very happy with something you ate is diarrhea. Vomiting, stomach cramps, and fever can accompany this condition and confirm the food poisoning diagnosis. These symptoms can begin within 24 hours of eating the undercooked meat and continue for up to a week, depending on the type of bacteria ingested. In severe cases, there’s also a chance that you’ll experience kidney problems.
Given these risks, it’s imperative to make sure that your meat is thoroughly cooked. Bacteria die at 75 degrees Celsius or more. Once you know you’ve passed that stage, you can focus on producing food that tastes delicious and looks beautiful. This way, you won’t have to worry about getting yourself or your loved ones sick.
Here are a few things to remember about cooking meat that will bring out the best in your dish while killing every trace of harmful bacteria:
High heat will develop flavour. Browning is not only a crucial step when cooking meat, but one that will also create a tremendous amount of flavour. When the Maillard reaction starts, it will combine the amino acids and the sugar in food. As a result, hundreds of different flavorful compounds emerge. As these compounds appear, new flavours will come out. Not only will this process eliminate the bacteria in food, but the result will be so mouthwatering that you’ll want your meat to be cooked this way over and over again!
When browning meat, make sure that it’s a deep brown sear. It should also have a thick crust on all sides. This can be obtained with quick-cooking over high levels of heat. To make sure that the meat browns, the meat has to be dry. Before putting seasoning, pat it dry with a paper towel. This is especially important if it’s been thawed from deep freezing because such meat releases more water than fresh meat. The pan should also be appropriately preheated until the fat added to the pan shimmers and almost at its smoking point. Finally, remember that you shouldn’t overcrowd the pan. There must be at least ¼ inch of space between the pieces. If the pan is crowded, the meat will not brown.
Low heat to preserve moisture. For large meat pieces, the best cooking technique to use is slow cooking with low heat. This allows the proper cooking of the centre part of the meat without overcooking the outer parts. Cooking low and slow is also an excellent way to kill off the bacteria because nothing is rushed. As the heat cooks every single piece of the meat, bacteria will die. This technique requires patience, but the payoff is excellent. That’s because the inner moisture of the flesh—its most natural, juicy flavours and fat are kept inside. Proteins will shrink less and will not express a lot of moisture if cooked at moderate temperatures.
Resting meat allows the juice to redistribute. Don’t cut the meat right after cooking. Let it rest so it can retain most of its natural essence. The right amount of waiting period before carving is 40 minutes. Remember to let the meat rest in a dry area to ensure that no germs or bacteria will contaminate it.
Cooking techniques are only as proper as the outcome it can deliver. If the meat is not properly cooked, how will you enjoy the food? The techniques above are not only tested to bring out the best flavours in the meat but also to keep your food bacteria-free and your friends and family safe.
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