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Old 10-17-2008, 07:20 AM   #1
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Tongs and tools, from start to finish?

I'm just wondering how many people change cooking tools during the cooking process

Here's my typical handling of chicken pieces;
Grab a steak knife and carefully cut open the package and peel back the plastic
Season
Use the knife to turn the pieces over
Season
Use the knife to spear the pieces and put into the pan or on the grill
Put the knife in the dishwasher

Then, I use a different tool, like tongs, to finish cooking the chicken with, but, even though one side has been sizzling away in the fry pan, that means the tongs touch the relatively uncooked side And those same tongs put the pieces on my plate when the chicken is done And it's not like they are getting sanitized inbetween uses....

Last night I poured some frozen wings out of the bag and onto the grill and used the same tongs start to finish, rearranging and turning the wings several times. I'm thinking now that may not have been the safest thing to do.
Now, if I had also been grilling some potatoes or another food, I would have grabbed another pair of tongs for those, but really, what's the difference?

If I am flouring some chicken in a bag I make a conscious effort to NOT use the same tongs I pull the pieces out with to flip them once they are in the pan, but again during the first flip the tongs are still touching halfway cooked chicken. Is this safe? Safe enough I guess, as I'm still here, but how do the professionals do it? What is smart kitchen practice? How many people really go through 2-3 cooking tools while cooking chicken start to finish?

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Old 10-17-2008, 07:42 AM   #2
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I'm too lazy and have don't have a lot of duplicate/triplicate tools for cooking.

If my tongs touch uncooked chicken, I stick the ends into the burner to sanitize. It doesn't take long for the tong ends to exceed 160 F in an open gas flame. Same goes for the gas grill.
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Old 10-17-2008, 07:57 AM   #3
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An open flame.... good idea. I used to rinse with hot water, but there have been those here who said in a residential dishwasher, the water does not get hot enough to sanitize, so obviously a standard water heater won't work. And I can set the working end of a flipper on my grill and close the lid, but not my tongs. Nor can I reach the fire. Not unless I take them into the house to the stove....

Soup is another one, or chili/stews....
You're using one pot, have your trusty wooden spoon stirring the ingredients around as you brown and cook, then 2 hours later use the same spoon to taste test. I never see them swapping out cooking utensils on the cooking shows part way through cooking something. Oftentimes you will see them use the same spoon they started cooking with, taste, then grab a fresh spoon.
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Old 10-17-2008, 08:29 AM   #4
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If your gas grill is preheated to 500-600 F, the grate is hot enough to bring the tongs ends to more than the 160 F necessary.

Dishwashers heat their own water. The standard is 160 F with different cycles getting even hotter.

If you keep sticking the spoon back into the pot to stir the soup, no problem. You are not supposed to taste with the cooking spoon.
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Old 10-17-2008, 08:32 AM   #5
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I do not swap or wash . I do similar to what Andy does. I will leave the tongs or spoon or whatever sitting in the pan so that it heats up with the food.
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Old 10-17-2008, 09:32 AM   #6
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Quote:
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I do not swap or wash . I do similar to what Andy does. I will leave the tongs or spoon or whatever sitting in the pan so that it heats up with the food.
So if you are pan frying some chicken you will rest your tongs in the pan?
I've gotten out of that habit because some of my plastic handled stuff was getting melted by the edge of the pan. And of course that prevents you from getting a good seal with the lid. And did you ever grab a metal spoon or fork was that was setting in the pan?

Andy, are you saying that when you are grilling, that everytime you get the tongs or flipper close to the food/grate, that they become sterilized? That makes sense.

Maybe I am reading too much into this. It just seems that for all the precautions you take when handling the food, that the cooking utensils are pretty much ignored.
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Old 10-17-2008, 09:42 AM   #7
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If I'm cooking chicken, for example, on the grill, afer I turn it once, I don't have to touch a contaminated food surface again as the surface of the chicken has been subjected to enough heat to kill any SURFACE bacteria.

I then stick the ends of the tongs between the grate bars down near the flames. They are sanitized by the intense heat there in a few seconds. Even if you just lay the ends of the tongs on the grate for a few seconds, that will do the trick. You will quickly see any tiny droplets of fat or water on the tongs sizzling. That's an indication the tongs have reached at least the boiling point of water.

I don't leave utensils in the pots and pans while cooking for the reasons you stated.
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Old 10-17-2008, 09:56 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pacanis View Post
So if you are pan frying some chicken you will rest your tongs in the pan?
I've gotten out of that habit because some of my plastic handled stuff was getting melted by the edge of the pan. And of course that prevents you from getting a good seal with the lid. And did you ever grab a metal spoon or fork was that was setting in the pan?
The tongs and plastic utensils I use are heat proof much beyond anything my stove can put out. Anything metal also has rubberized grips so I am not touching the metal directly. I rarely cook anything that I am putting in the pan then slapping a lid on right away.

For instance, last nights dinner I browned some ground turkey in a fry pan. I used a plastic spoon which can withstand extremely high temps. I left the spoon in the pan while the turkey cooked. I then added my sauce and pasta and covered the pan, taking the spoon out. the spoon had already been taken care of by the heat it received while cooking the turkey. Now the lid is on and has a normal seal.
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Old 10-17-2008, 09:58 AM   #9
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I'll have to get used to this sanitize by heat method.
Seems like I am always running out of tongs....
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Old 10-17-2008, 10:01 AM   #10
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I agree with Andy and GB. What is important is understanding the potential for cross-contamination, and taking steps to resolve it. This can be done by swapping, heating, or sanitizing the utensils. You can be ultra safe (and there is nothing wrong with that) or you can be pretty safe.

Personally, I treat chicken and turkey differently than other potentially hazardous food, because they are the most likely to be highly contaminated. Once a soup or stew reaches the boiling point, I'm not real concerned about the utensils.

BTW, dishwashers sanitize because there is bleach in the dish soap, regardless of the water temp.
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