Monday, August 15, 2011

[You Don't Wanna] Cook With JoJo!

It's time for a cooking lesson, child. I call this one "Cookin' Wit Me, Oh Cee Dee Stylee!" I like to keep it hip, keep it real, for the fresh crowd.

  • When cooking ground beef, most people just use the same spoon or spatula the whole way through. They plop in the raw meat, let it cook a bit, give it a stir, (probably) set the spoon down on the counter *dry heaves*, then occasionally give the meat a few more stirs until it is cooked-ish. But by doing this, you are jamming the same spoon containing the original raw ground beef germs right into the now-finished product. What you need to do instead is to switch utensils, at least once throughout. I like to wait until the ground beef is almost totally browned, then I switch to a clean spatula and give it a nice finishing simmer, letting the heat seek and destroy, stirring several more times.

  • The same is true with chicken. If you're grilling some up on the BBQ or in a pan, after one side of the chicken has been browned and you take your tongs to flip the bitch over, one side of the tongs has touched totally raw chicken. So you will keep using these tongs to keep flipping the chicken, and then you will remove the chicken from the pan or BBQ with SAME SAME TONGS. Do you Smell the Salmonella What the Rock is Cooking?? Or maybe you use a fork to turn your chicken. The fork stabs into the raw chickie, spreading the same raw juices throughout, every time you turn it. Or maybe you are baking some marinated chicken in the oven, occasionally spooning the marinade over the chicken as it bakes. The marinade was originally chock-full of delicious raw chicken bugs. So please, for the love of hygienia(TM), switch utensils! Change your spatula 3/4 of the way (maybe 9/10 of the way) through cooking ground beef. Switch tongs after both sides of the chicken have been seared. Let the chicken bake thoroughly after you've given it one last covering of marinade (using a new spoon). etc.

  • And believe it or not, you should also do the same with eggs! As I scramble them, when they are almost done and need one last flip, I use a new spatula. I scoop them up from underneath, the side that is hot and fully-cooked, and I give 'em a flip, so that you can cook the germs off the top as well.

Sounds simply, and reasonable, donn'it? Although, somehow, for me, it never end up being quite so simple. I manage to go through about 27 utensils and 14 plates and 4 forks and 6 knives (such as when I cut the chicken to see if it's cooked through). My dishwasher usually won't accommodate the amount of cookery I've cookered with for that one simple meat dish.


Now that's food cookin' OCD stylee (well, I actually think that's not just an OCD thing, it's just good practice. I have a hard time eating burgers at other people's houses, because I'm like, "Now son I know you ain't switched your flipper 'fore you flipped that there burger one last time!"). 

Anyway. As for food handlin', ye gods that's an arduous process for someone like me. I used to be able to barehand the meat with a little TLC (twss) and then just wash thoroughly afterward (usually at least twice, because meat fats tend to make the soap not foam very well on my hands, and I feel like I'm just smearing around e.coli wax). 

Now, I've regressed progressed to using rubber gloves. Those silver nitrile exam ones you get at Costco by the trillions. Especially when handling chicken, because I always trim the fat off. There's nothing worse than crunchy, rubbery chicken fat in a deliciously cooked meal. So I don my gloves, pull out a plastic cutting board, and take out my meat scissors. Then I open the package of chicken, carefully, so carefully, not letting it drip anywhere, and throwing the packaging carefully, so carefully, into the garbage.

I season or slice or chop the chicken, then place it carefully in my cooking dish of choice (grilling pan, glass oven pan, etc.). Then with one gloved hand, I grab the mid-wrist area of the other gloved hand, and peel off that glove. Then I use the now-turned-inside-out glove to remove the other glove, and I carefully, so carefully, throw them away.  Then I wash my hands.

I place the dish in to bake or whatnot or whathaveyou or saywhatnow, and then I fuckin wash my hands again. Because come on.

Then the entire kitchen area is Clorox-wiped.

Now, God forbid I have to marinate, or STORE, some chicken. I employ the same process as above as far as the rubber gloves go, and trim/season, slice it, but when it comes time to put the chicken into a ziplock bag to either marinate or freeze for later use, I scream out, "Husband! O dear husband! Need you!"

He comes along, and holds open the ziplock bag as wide as it will go, which is never quite wide enough, and I carefully, so carefully, place the chicken into the bag. Then I remove my gloves as detailed above, zip the bag closed, and then DOUBLE-BAG the fucker (twss), only to wash my hands yet again. Maybe twice, maybe thrice. And he washes too.

It's all very stressful. 

But got-damn am I a fine cook, and you should try my Aztec Chicken Casserole, or maybe my Taco Chicken with Jack Cheese & Salsa.


FYI, I've been reading The Help, just like the rest of America. And I laughed my proverbial bum-bum off when I read this passage, where Minny was working with Celia, trying to teach her some good  goddamn sense:

Minny, the hired help: "We lay the battered raw chicken on the rail. Then I have to remind the ding-dong for the bobillionth time to wash her hands before she kills us both."



  1. Serious question: if the utensil you've used on your meat has raw "meat juice" (or whatver) on it and you use that same utensil again on the meat that's already almost done, then let it cook for some more, doesn't that meat juice just get cooked through too?

  2. I guess think of it like this. Say you put raw ground beef in a pan and you stir it. The next time you stir it, it's kind of like adding a few droplets of raw meat juice (use your imagination ;-) ). Then it cooks, but it still has the raw meat germs of the last time you stirred it (because it wasn't fully cooked yet), so it's like adding more droplets of raw meat germs. So, the last time you stir it right before it's totally cooked, it still has germs from the meat when it WASN'T totally cooked. Does that make sense? So yeah, the meat juice will continue to get cooked through as you continue, but that last time you stir it right before you're done cooking, you're adding back in all those germs.

  3. Come to my house to eat! You'd think we were vegetarians for the lack of meat we eat. I hate all the prep and clean up involved in eating meat. :)

    Also, you'd be proud of the cutting board I have labeled (in big black sharpie) MEAT ONLY!! Because even though it goes through the dishwasher I never feel comfortable cutting veggies on the same place I've cut meat...

  4. Yeah, I RARELY cook meat anymore, especially chicken. Hey wait. I rarely COOK anymore, period. Sorry, husband.

    And I love your cutting board idea. :) Woo!!

  5. Hmmm, well, I won't discount what you need to feel comfortable. Chicken and raw meat can be dangerous, should be stored on the bottomest shelf in your fridge and the cutting area should be thoroughly disinfected after prep for sure...but I am not sure about the utensils one I know..including many restaurants I work in, switch utensils half way though..and I have to wonder if it does make a difference, cause if you switch too early, the bacteria is still alive, so still spreading, and if you switch 3/4 of the way through, then the germy spatula germs would need more time to cook off, like to the point of burnt meat, cause they were reintroduced so late..I know when we had ecoli in our water and had a boil order on we had to boil the water for the like 30 minutes to make it safer for tooth brushing I am assuming the same would apply to meat.
    Regardless, my grandparents, parent, us, have always cooked the same way and we haven't killed anyone yet :)

  6. We get our meat mailed to us in vacuum packed packages. More than once, I've opened the meat and gone to throw the package away and, being the graceful woman I am, go to step on the trash lever and DRIP JUICE ON MY TOES. Effing gross. So, there's that. lol.

  7. Jaime: Yeah, I get what you're saying. Then again, I'd bet that the vast majority of the meat that you (and others) cook with just one stirrer does not have e.coli. If one were to encounter tainted meat, there's still a chance of getting sick from using the same spoon, at least in my mind. That's how I see it. But that's why I have OCD and you don't. :) Anyway, I still think it's generally just good practice to switch to a clean spoon when the meat is almost done (and therefore basically safe to eat) but you cook it just a little longer for that crispity crunch. Or whatever. :)

    Laura: EWWW FOREVER. Also, the first thing that pops into my head is, go bleach the fuck out of your mailbox. lol. Even though the meat doesn't touch it. :) I always wash after I handle regular mail, and that's just paper!! But meatmail! Oh I would be crazy.

  8. I'm reading back through your posts--I had to drop a little tidbit here--

    Go Vegan! Raw meat makes me ill, and now I don't have to touch it, ever!

  9. I don't think I'd go vegan, but I'm darn near vegetarian. I almost never eat meat--just don't want to. And I hate cooking it.

  10. Perhaps a future post on sushi? I am working forward through your blog and am only I August, so perhaps it is already there? But really curious if you like it or not, and how if it plays well with your OCD.

  11. Got to be careful with this dang iPad keyboard!! It makes whack corrections that make me sound grammar-impaired!! Me hate that!! ;)

  12. Good call, Duardo. I'l have to try my hand at a sushi blog one of these days. :)