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Novice mistake.

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I was searing a piece of pork in a stainless steel pan - planning to cook it for a few hours in a crock pot afterwards.

However, when I lifted the pork from the pan, so that I could turn it over to sear the other side, I saw a big white piece of thin plastic material between the pork and the pan. I guess I'm not supposed to sear the packaging that comes with the meat?
post #2 of 16
what ever it was it kinda makes the pork extra crunchy and hard to eat:talk::beer::smoking::rolleyes:

was it a brand new stainless pan sometimes they have a clear film of plastic on them which can be hard to see,
dont worry doll we all have done something strange like this at one time or other
its a learning curve

years and years ago i have been doing some baking at home that required rolling out with a rolling pin , didnt realise you werent suppose to wash the wooden rolling pin and washed it and put it in the slightly warm oven to dry out for a few minutes. totally forgot about it and days later was doing some cooking , had the back door open and could smell wood burning , and thought ohh somebody must be having a bbq finally opened the oven and there was my rolling pin smoking hot and just about to turn in to a full blown fire:cool::cool::cool: OOOOOOOPPPPPPsssss thats not suppose to happen
when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires
when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires
post #3 of 16
Once I ate some aluminum foil packaging on brie cheese. Or maybe it was lead--that would explain everything.
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
It was actually a pan that I've been using for a little while (I bought it a few months ago). So, my bad. Oh well, the costs of learning something new.
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'm cooking the pork (about 1.5 lbs) in a crock pot. I first put the crockpot on high for about 45 minutes but, after seeing the liquid in the crockpot sizzling a little bit (a mixture of barbeque sauce and some seasonings) I put the crockpot on low temperature.

A couple quesitons: one, what temperature is "low" in a crockpot? At least 160 degrees?

Also, after an hour or so, I put a thermometer into the meat to test the temperature and it was about 200 degrees. I was told in a cooking class that meat should be 165 degrees to kill bacteria. My question is - how long does it need to be at least 165 degrees to kill off bacteria? Also, just because meat is 165 degrees, and the bacteria is dead, does not mean that the meat is done cooking?

post #6 of 16
What kind of pork roast? Loin, tenderloin, shoulder, butt, picnic, sirloin?

Of those, only the cuts from the shoulder, butt or picnic, should end up in a slow cooker. A whole shoulder would be fine if you have a huge cooker, but that's pretty rare.

And each of them has a different doneness temperature too.

The shoulder and its cuts are often cooked into the 190-200 range. That's where they become exceedingly tender and moist from melted collagen. The can be and are cooked to lower temperatures too, but they tend to be tough and sometimes dry as much of the moisture has been cooked out but the collagen hasn't broken down yet to remoisten and tenderize it.

The other three should be cooked to a just pink stage in the center or they'll be dry. Stop the cooking about 140. Trichinosis dies at 137 so have a calibrated thermometer to be safe and accurate. In whole cuts, you don't have to worry about bacteria because they can't really get inside. They're on the surface, but that gets cooked past 160 when you brown it.

Chicken is the meat you need to cook to the 160 mark (Technically other temps are safe if held for sufficient time, but that's tricky for the home cook). Chickens are raised in filthy conditions and their flesh is prone to be full of harmful bacteria. However, you can cook a chicken thigh to a pink stage and still be safe to eat it. It's still pink at 160 as it's a dark meat but the bacteria have been killed. People will freak out if you serve it to them because the perception is that any pinkness is bad. I like James Beard's comments on this in Americarn Cookery which I can't recall precisely. I'll post it later.

Ground meat products also need to be cooked to the 160 mark because you mix the contaminated outer surface in with all the rest of the meat. If you grind it yourself from meat you are confident is safe, some will cook it to lower temperatures.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
I should know but I actually don't remember what cut of pork it was.

A question, though: how would I control the temperature in a crockpot? Mine only has settings for low and high?

Also, after initially putting the crockpot on high, to get the temperature up, I then moved it to low. And I was operating under the impression that I really couldn't harm it by cooking it too long - that, in fact, the longer I cooked it, the more tender it would become (if I cooked at low, anyway).

Would you think this is right?
post #8 of 16
The temps basically correlate to a low simmer and more vigorous simmer. At my elevation, I do occasionally achieve a rolling boil in mine when covered. With the lid off, the heat loss is too fast for it to boil anymore. See Slow cooker - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia for more details on temps.

It is more difficult to overcook in a slow cooker true. But texture will continue to get softer which isn't desirable at extremes. A tenderloin would more likely sieze up and be dry and tough if cooked a long time for example.

Generally, a roast will take 6-8 hours on low, 3-4 on high. Where you started on high to bring it up to temp, say two hours on high, it might be done in another 1- 1 1/2 hours when you switch to low depending how well it holds it's temp. It's usually best to pick a setting and stick with it to work out timing.

It's probably worth your while to read a slow cooker cookbook. Fix it and Forget it is a popular one and quite inexpensive. You'll find a recipe that's close enough to what you're doing to figure out a good timing. But you'll also learn about how little added liquid you really need, the benefits of layering (things on the bottom tend to cook faster) and some other handy things.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the tips! My pork came out tasty. I'll take a look at the book.
post #10 of 16
Slow and low should be fine, when done long enough. Sounds like it needed more liquid perhaps

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

post #11 of 16
FWIW, "Low" for almost all slow cookers is between 175F and 180F, while "High" is as close as can be to 200F.

Novice, in light of how you cooked your roast there's something wrong with your thermometer or temperature measuring technique. That pork should not have been 200F. Exactly what's up, ?Quien sabe?

Glad your roast worked out. In light of how quickly you're acquiring cooking gear and knowledge, it's nice that you're working with something relatively undemanding for a change.

Phil's discussion of temperatures is very good -- with a couple of caveats. While I and Phil do, most people don't like pork cooked below 155F -- even though it's safe. (And, by the way, trichinosis is no longer a worry with commercial pork in North America.) This presents some technique challenges to keeping it moist -- but not in a crock pot. 195F is an ideal temperature for the "barbecue" cuts in a normal oven or barbecue -- but it's not necessary in a crock pot. Extra long cooking at the "Low" setting will allow the proteins to fully cook and "denature," which is the tenderizing/moisturizing process Phil described so well.

Phil, I'm not bird-dogging you here. You gotta know Novice. He will tear a subject apart until he knows exactly how it ticks.

post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'm the novice's wife. He explained to me all he learned about cutting a pepper in a cooking class he took -my response - "just cut it already" I guess he'll be doing celery next. Oh well, if it means I can give up racing home from work to cook - because he's doing dinner - I'll be happy.
post #13 of 16
The single greatest achievement in any man's life is a contented wife.

post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hi, BDL. I saw your comment about my approach to questions and thought I would have to share it with my wife.:lips:

Hope you didn't mind.
post #15 of 16
Are you kidding? I'm very gratified. Check out my blog in the blog section here. Even though your name didn't get mentioned, you're one of the people I'm talking about. I also think you'll be interested in and identify with the "creative process" I described in Part III.

Say hi to your wife,
post #16 of 16
Thread Starter 
BDL - I very much like your responses to my postings. I find them very informative, and also just plain interesting to read.

As you have surmised, I like to tear apart a process into pieces, make sure I understand the pieces, and then put it back together again. I often do this whether I am trying to teach my son to hit a baseball or whether I am trying to figure out some process at work. (I probably shouldn't give this away - it will give too many people ammunition - but I worked for a decade as an accountant and now am working as computer tech support.)

Another slightly (or maybe more than slightly) embarrassing thing - I'm not too young (I'm 50) and I don't know how to cook. As far as the creative process is concerned, I am greatly looking forward to when I can be creative. Right now I am trying to just develop basic kitchen skills as a backdrop so that I can be creative at some point. Right now I feel like I'm just sort of floundering (no pun intended) in a lot of what I am doing. Some things may work out, some may not, and I won't necessarily know why.

I never really had taken cooking seriously until recently. I had often seen it as a sort of tedious kind of housekeeping - you spend hours making something that everyone wolfs down in 10 minutes. It seemed like a sort of thankless task.

But now I have a new viewpoint on it. The trigger was my son being diagnosed with a digestive ailment. We have been seeing a conventional doctor - a GI - but also are consulting with an alternative nutritionist, who feels that a very restrictive diet called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet will help him. Problem is, I have to know how to cook.

So I've had this very practical, medical reason for wanting to learn how to cook.

However, as I've been trying to learn, I'm finding I like it very much. I don't even try to rush it; I like the process and, as soon as I can do it better, I know I'll like it much more.

And I see that food is an extremely importnat thing - this is what we put in our bodies, and the nutritionist is convincing me of the overwhelming importance of it on all health aspects. I've eaten out of a can and ordered take-out too much. Again, our nutritionist has convinced me that good food (good meaning healthy, not solely tasty) takes a lot of effort and that is how I'm approaching it.

Sorry for this long-winded post but, since you seem to have identified a significant trait of mine, I thought I would give you some background on me.

I am thankful for all the help that I have recieved on this bulletin board. I frequently feel a little uncomfortable with my questions because I feel they are way below the level of the other people on this bulletin board but, from having looked at other cooking bulletin boards, I kind of like the flavor :) of this one.
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