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Precooked items in the professional kitchens

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I just started a second job workin in a trendy bar&grill in a more wealthy community.  I'm kind of disappointed. They precook seeming everything. Even hamburgers and chicken breasts. To be flashed up to temperature when ordered.  I understand things like pulled pork and briscit have to be... but hamburgers?!  I've worked in shifty chain restaurants that dont do that! and is it safe? To have a pan of burgers preseared sitting in beef stock next to the grill? with a pan of chicken breasts in chicken stock right next to it?  I'm praying you all tell me this is an uncommon practice 100% and a great sin.

post #2 of 13

I.m tending towards not safe.  It depends on a lot of: the freshness f the original item, was it cooled properly then bagged covered in wrap and frozen in a flat layer.  Once fully frozen, it can be frozen in laeger zip-lock bags.  Labal and date.

 

Have you  tried some prepared this way and then tried one  - if you're feeling brave!

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

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

 
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post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Well i've spent over half my time as my few years as a cook working in the corporate scene where health code health code health code was firmly embedded into my brain.  So when I see cooked food left at room temperature, bells go off in my head. When I see food left near a grill where it'll keep slightly warmer than room temperature, say 90-100 degrees, I go into instant DEFCON 2. I personally saw that food out for 6 hours, and I know the health code says food should be cooled to under 70 in 4 hours, and under 40 in 6.  Even if it was "safe," who would actually be happy to learn their burger or chicken breast was cooked at 10 this morning, rather than right as you ordered it for dinner?

 

Just searched for their health inspections... full of "Hot and cold holding" violations. rolleyes.gif

post #4 of 13

The place where I did a brief stop as KM precooked alot of things.  Just going by the menu I can tell you that the turkey dinner, meatloaf and meatballs for spag and balls were all precooked and heated up (microwaved in the case of the turkey and the meatballs, grilled with the meatloaf) to order.  The mashed potatoes were also precooked and nuked to order.   They would also precook their scrambled eggs and microwave them to order as well. 

 

I had to throw out an entire bucket of scrambled eggs one Sunday because the fridge they were kept in was not cold enough and they went bad overnight.  The breakfast cook and I both gagged on the stench it was that bad.  So I spent part of that day moving food to the upstairs fridge that I knew was safe and I was told off for it and the owner did nothing to correct the faulty fridge.  The temp in that fridge was 8C (46F) and by public health standards it should be no higher than 4C(39F).   I was simply told "it's fine and it's been this way for two years" when I tried to explain the danger and what I was trying to avoid. 

OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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post #5 of 13

To be honest, a trendy bar&grill in a more wealthy community, pre-cooking hamburgers and... chicken breast???

I cannot believe they serve such simple food in the first place to people who can afford spending a lot more and would make a larger profit for the bar/grill. Personally, I wouldn't even think of leaving my home for something I can cook myself on any very ordinary day.

 

I totally understand pre-cooking risotto to halfway, 1st frying and cooling freshly made fries ready to bake off and a number of other things, but a hamburger or chickenbreast?

post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 

my issue really isn't the idea of precooking things, it's the idea that they're holding that precooked food neither hot (above 140) nor cold (below 40). In fact, just keeping it right next to the broiler where it can get that cumfy just above room temperature that living organisms LOVE.

post #7 of 13

As pcieluck stated, there is a BIG difference between pre-cooked and food held in the danger zone!

 

FWIW, I DO pre-cook

  • Osso Buco
  • Chicken Cacciatore
  • Coq au Vin
  • Meatloaf
  • Stuffed Pork Loin
  • etcetera

 

but it is properly chilled and refrigerated/frozen and then heated, generally Sous Vide style, for service.

 

Unless it is for a LARGE number of people a;; at the same time, I would not pre-cook things like burgers, sautéed proteins, etc.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post

As pcieluck stated, there is a BIG difference between pre-cooked and food held in the danger zone!

 

FWIW, I DO pre-cook

  • Osso Buco
  • Chicken Cacciatore
  • Coq au Vin
  • Meatloaf
  • Stuffed Pork Loin
  • etcetera

 

but it is properly chilled and refrigerated/frozen and then heated, generally Sous Vide style, for service.

 

Unless it is for a LARGE number of people a;; at the same time, I would not pre-cook things like burgers, sautéed proteins, etc.


Coq au Vin, Osso Buco, and Cacciatore/Chasseur are all thing i believe benefit from being precooked.  Meanwhile a hamburger or a grilled chicken breast are not!

 

post #9 of 13

Are they running a drive through?.... Why in the world would you pre cook a burger? Does the clientel not know the difference?

There have been a few discussions in the past on this on another board, where people were cooking off burgers and holding in aujus so they could just slap out the food.

You get a burger from my place, it's hand formed, seasoned and char broiled to order. You need 6 napkins with it because IT WILL drip down your arm.

Chicken breast sands also cooked to order, everyone is told chicken takes longer than other items.

Most people don't mind to wait for a quality product. That's the difference between the masses eating at your place once in a while, and having regulars that dine several times a week because they are getting a quality product every time.

post #10 of 13



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by leeniek View Post

The place where I did a brief stop as KM precooked alot of things.  Just going by the menu I can tell you that the turkey dinner, meatloaf and meatballs for spag and balls were all precooked and heated up (microwaved in the case of the turkey and the meatballs, grilled with the meatloaf) to order.  The mashed potatoes were also precooked and nuked to order.   They would also precook their scrambled eggs and microwave them to order as well. 

 

I had to throw out an entire bucket of scrambled eggs one Sunday because the fridge they were kept in was not cold enough and they went bad overnight.  The breakfast cook and I both gagged on the stench it was that bad.  So I spent part of that day moving food to the upstairs fridge that I knew was safe and I was told off for it and the owner did nothing to correct the faulty fridge.  The temp in that fridge was 8C (46F) and by public health standards it should be no higher than 4C(39F).   I was simply told "it's fine and it's been this way for two years" when I tried to explain the danger and what I was trying to avoid. 


Turkey, meatballs, meatloaf, etc have to bee cooked ahead of time, But mash? Make several small batches throughout the day, they will hold well for a couple hrs, if you don't over heat them.     Eggs...how difficult is it to scramble an egg?

 

post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 

It's the inconsistency that really gets me frustrated in almost every kitchen I've ever worked for.  In all local, franchise, and corporate; you'll always see a few things that they do that's to be proud of and genuinely awesome. And you'll always see a lot of things that make most people go "WTF WHY?!" Often things they would never in a million years admit to a customer either.

 

Examples: (No names of any restaurant or chain will be used)

 

First kitchen job i ever had, a pizza franchise.  Cooked all of their pizza to order, but kept a gigantic pan of breadsticks already made... Pizza and bread sticks take the same amount of time to cook so.... why?!

 

Second kitchen, a reputable italian restaurant and pizzaria.  Brick oven pizza, home-made cheese! Everything, everything home made, but they would precook all pasta, and not only precooked all fried chicken cutlets, but wouldn't season them.  Did a week or two's worth of prep at one time, and wondered why people thought the lasagna and eggplant wasn't selling too hot.

 

One of my more current jobs. Corporate restaurant chain.  Everything is cooked to order, but all side dishes are microwaved!

 

And now this place i've just signed on with. Good pizza, like the stuff I used to make in new york.  They actually smoke their ribs, rather than employ an artificial smoke or some other form of slow cooking.  They also smoke pork shoulder for pulled pork. Smoke brisket, but buy in corned beef.  And then the big problem i have, precooking freakin hamburgers and then hold them at slightly above room temperature! It makes me angry every time i observe it.

 

...Does the clientel not know?

 


Good question. My impression was that the restaurant is not as busy as it could be.  Especially being a very nice saturday afternoon in a trendy down-town area with lots of foot traffic. At one point, they got a whopping 7 tickets and the communication broke down, everyone seemed frustrated. Clearly not used to being very busy at all. The line I got all afternoon was "okay, you are clearly used to working very fast, but you can relax here." So maybe people go for the bar, and very little for the grill.

 

 


Edited by pcieluck - 8/29/11 at 11:04pm
post #12 of 13

These are 3 brasseries that work together. They claim that fresh products are essential. The first is one of my favorite places, exists for many years, but it remains a very trendy place. Food is simply top quality. Not quite cheap for a "humble" brasserie.

Just to emphasize how far quality restaurants push their limits nowadays; they have their own farm in Bresse where they breed their own chickens (take a look at the intro video of the second link)!!

 

All the following links are in dutch but have an english and french translation! Enjoy...

http://www.pakhuis.be/

http://www.docks.be/

http://www.quincaillerie.be/ 

post #13 of 13


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefbuba View Post



 


Turkey, meatballs, meatloaf, etc have to bee cooked ahead of time, But mash? Make several small batches throughout the day, they will hold well for a couple hrs, if you don't over heat them.     Eggs...how difficult is it to scramble an egg?

 

I find scrambled eggs to be one of the easiest ones to do (can't screw them up!) and really it takes just minutes to do it right.  I know alot of places use powdered mixes as well, and again this place was no exception.  The hollandaise was powdered, as was the demi glace and the cheese sauce for mac and cheese.  (think Kraft Dinner sauce)   I don't know the logic behind reheating the mash... maybe it was a time thing.. they made mash twice a week in a big batch, portioned it out and then sent it upstairs to the line for the line cooks to reheat to order. 

 

 

 

 

OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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