Nancy Lou wrote:
In all the years I've been working with Steven, I have never seen him warm meat to room temperature before smoking or grilling. So I never do, either. Does it add time to the end? If you're doing something low and slow, I imagine it does. But something that is direct grilled...I doubt it makes any difference. As Steven points out, good steakhouses never leave their meat out at room temperature...
Have a Merry Christmas, Mike!
Nancy Lou - I'd have to agree with you and Steven 100%. I never leave meat out at room temperature for extended periods of time - everything I cook goes from the fridge to the grill. That's also the way I was taught way back when I was a line cook for a year or two, and back when I apprenticed as a chef (for a short period of time).
With steaks, the time the meat takes to warm up is usually a matter of a minute or two. With low 'n slow cooking, however, the meat can take a lot longer to get out of the "danger zone" of 40Â° to 140Â° F. If that meat is slowly warming up on the counter, it will stay in that danger zone a lot longer than if it goes straight from the fridge to the oven, and that increases the chance of spoilage bacteria multiplying considerably.
Oh and if you think the heat will kill those bacteria anyway, keep in mind that a lot of those spoilage bacteria release nasty toxins even after they are killed off. Those toxins are also pretty heat-stable so sometimes they stick around on the food even after it 's cooked. Staphylococcus Aureus
is a well-known and common culprit here, and I once had a bout of Staph food poisoning that laid me and half of my 400-person dorm out for a whole week. Nasty stuff (but at least it wasn't Salmonella
I've always cooked by temperature as well, not by time. Cooking times often have the time for the meat to warm up already factored in, and they're also usually given in ranges of time rather than specific, down-to-the-minute times.
Temperature is a much better measure anyway. For example, I've often cooked 2 or more pork shoulders that were all the same weight, and after the same amount of time and the same amount of heat, one will get to 190Â° F much quicker than the other(s). In other words, one butt will be at pulling temperature after 5 1/2 hours, and the other may take 6 hours or more to get to the same temperature.