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Will re-cooking kill bacteria?

I made a brisket last night that requires cooking for 3-4 hours one day, removing from the oven and allowing it to cool, slicing and refrigerating overnight. Then...... you place it back in the oven for another 1 1/2 hours the next day before serving.

It came out of the oven at 11pm and I set it on a rack (wrapped in it's foil packet) to cool. Unfortunately, I went to bed and forgot to put it in the fridge until 6 am.It's now sliced and I am getting ready to cook it for the remainder.

I guess my question is regarding food safety. If any bacteria formed during the time it was not in the fridge, will cooking it at 375 kill whatever may have developed?

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  1. I am not an expert, but frankly, I would continue on with your recipe & not worry about eating that lovely meat.

    I've done what you've done quite frequently.

    1. Another non-expert, but I'm with Bacardi1!

      1. Im with the others, go on with your recipe.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jen kalb

          + 1, but to answer your question, pathogens themselves would be destroyed by recooking. The illness-causing toxins some pathogens produce would not be destroyed and can make you just as sick.

        2. Cooking will kill any bacteria but won't necessarily inactivate any toxins the bacteria may have produced. Destroying botulism toxin, for example, may require about 10 minutes at 212F (e.g. see http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/24/din... ). Even if you cook at 375F, the center of the meat is unlikely to reach temperatures/times to guarantee safety.

          Having said that, I would most likely proceed with the brisket ... though I'd not serve to guests.

          1 Reply
          1. Think about going to a deli and ordering a smoked meat sandwich. That slab is in and out of the steamer and survives. I think the pickling process offers some protection against bacteria building up in the meat. I think your slab should be fine based on the way it has been brined and processed.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Ruthie789

              While I'd eat it regardless, keep in mind that not all briskets are brined/pickled. You're thinking of corned beef brisket.

              I could be wrong, but I think the OP may be talking about a regular/plain beef brisket.

            2. 165 degrees internal temp is needed to kill all food born pathogens. Since you sliced it, I would bring it up to temp in a shallow braise on gentle heat.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Zalbar

                But it sounds like it was not sliced during its overnight wait?
                seems little likelihood that there would be bacteria or toxins in the interior if so.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  I doubt there are any toxins at all, I'd eat it off the rack cold, but that's me. I was mentioning that tossing sliced beef into a 375 degree oven seems a bit excessive and will kill the flavour and texture. Better to throw it back into some sauce and reheat it that way.

                  1. re: Zalbar

                    The recipe allows for undercooking the roast in the first phase. He meat is still tough and difficult to slice at that point.
                    After the second day/additional cooking,the brisket is actually more tender and flavorful.

              2. Hmmm. Interesting.
                It was a beef brisket not a corned beef. No pickling spices. And I did not slice it before I let it rest on the counter overnight in it's multiple layered, sealed (from leaking liquid or steam, but not hermetically) foil "packet". Temperature in the room overnight was approx 62.
                I did, indeed, slice the slab the next day and returned it to the packet of accumulated juices. I resealed it and cooked it at 375 for 1 1/2 hours. It was hot and steamy...quite tender.
                I ate a center slice and have felt no ill effects.

                I proceeded to wrap single sized portions for my son to bring (in a cooler) back to his college apartment to freeze and reheat another time.

                My intent was to be a good mom but who knows if I just gave him food poisoning?????

                Oh.....what the heck....It's the thought that counts.....right?


                1 Reply
                1. re: MSK

                  You - & he - will be just fine.

                2. Let's answer the scientific question first.

                  1) Yes, recooking will always kill bacteria. No doubt.

                  2) However, some bacteria produce toxins during their growth, and these toxins cannot be destroyed by re-cooking. This is why one can still get sick even if the recooking kill off the bacteria.

                  3) Nevertheless, you always reduce your risk when you re-cook.

                  Now to answer your practical question in this specific case:
                  You are likely to be fine especially because you warped it in foil packet and that you had not slice the meat at the time. These reduce contact from the microorganism from the air.