Cooking meat to a safe minimum temperature when you’re in a busy kitchen is tough. But it has to be done. Follow these five tips to make it simpler.
1. Use a meat thermometer.
There’s no way to visibly ascertain the temperature of meat throughout the cooking process. The outside might look crispy, darkened, and done, but that doesn’t even tell you anything about the surface temperature. It certainly doesn’t tell you if the middle of the protein is safe. So make regularly use a meat thermometer to make sure your food is safe.
2. Use a consistent heat source.
Even with meat thermometers, a lot of quick cooking is based on muscle memory. You know approximately how long it takes to cook a hamburger, grill a chicken breast, or fry an egg. But that doesn’t account for cooking surfaces that can’t keep up. Make sure your tools are just as consistent as your memory.
3. Post the charts instead of relying on memory.
But memory isn’t always the safest tool, either. If you have new employees or an increasingly complicated menu, post the minimum safe cooking temperatures. Even if you’re using the same menus and largely holding onto your staff, go ahead and post the charts, anyway. It can help correct any long-held misconceptions you and your employees don’t even know about.
4. Look for safety, not doneness.
Doneness is arbitrary. It doesn’t just vary region by region; it varies restaurant by restaurant. It’s also based almost entirely on the exterior’s appearance. So get your employees in the habit of using thermometers when they aren’t certain. Tools that steam cook and heat up consistently help them cook meat to a clear safety point instead of relying on visual clues, too.
5. Submerge the meat in steam to prevent cold spots.
Cold spots can ruin a protein. If you cook the meat adjacent to the cold spot to perfect, part of it will be undercooked. If you cook to make that part up to safety standards, the rest of the meat will be overcooked and dry. Instead of just using surface-based heat, use steam cooking, too. It’s more consistent.