How to stay food safe with your charcoal cooker Part 3 Cooking

Published by S Andreata on

The last in this series. You’ve got everything ready and it’s time to cook your meat.

Here’s how to keep food safe when cooking.


Always keep your raw meat separate from any cooked meat.  Preparation boards, plates, knives, etc. must be either washed between handling raw and cooked meats or have a clean set for the cooked meat. Never handle cooked and uncooked meats together.

Beer can chicken with temperature probe
Beer can chicken with dry rub

Keep the meat and marinating meat in the fridge or on ice until you’re ready to cook. If you want to bring it out to lose some chill, around 10 minutes is enough time. Keep the meat covered to avoid contamination.

When cooking marinated meat, it can be brushed with a little marinade or spritzed with water or apple cider vinegar as it cooks. Never pour any raw marinade over cooked meat.  Left over marinade mix can be put in a saucepan and boiled for a few minutes and then served with the cooked meat. Use a probe to keep track of the internal temperature of your meat so it isn’t served undercooked or overcooked.

Use a probe to check the cooking temperature of your meat. Recommended cooking times are listed here: Meat Temperature Chart.

Resting the meat

All meat should be rested before serving. This allows the juices to be redistributed through the meat and it will lose less juice when cut. The meat is juicier and tastier. You need to think about the residual heat as it’s important that the internal temperature continues to rise. Best to check the internal temperature and take the meat from the heat when its 3°-6°C under the goal cooking temperature. A rough guide is 1 minute for every 100 grams of meat.

Steaks and chops – place on a clean, warm platter and cover loosely with foil, rest for 3-5  minutes. (If you wrap the meat too tightly it will sweat and dry out).

Chicken – place on a clean, warm platter and cover loosely with foil, rest for 5-10 minutes.

Roasts – Wrap in loosely in foil and place somewhere with an even temperature like a warm oven or an empty esky. Roasts are rested 10-20 minutes before carving.

Leftover meat

The meal was delicious but you cooked too much. You can refrigerate the leftover meat, just make sure it’s eaten in the next 48 hours.

If you’re going to freeze the leftovers, the meat needs to be cooled before freezing to stop having big ice crystals. This happens when food freezes slowly and can make the food mushy because the large ice crystals destroy the food cells. Seal things with as little air as possible to reduce freezer burn and the development of ice crystals. Label and date your packages. 

Cooked seafood, chicken and meat can be frozen for 2 months.

If food has been out of the fridge for less than 2 hours, refrigerate or use it immediately. Between 2 and 4 hours it must be used immediately. If food has been out of the fridge or cooked and left standing for more than 4 hours it must be disposed of to avoid the chance of food poisoning.

Following the steps outlined in our How to stay Food Safe with your Charcoal Cooker series will keep you, your food and your family and friends out of harm’s way when it comes to food bacteria.

Enjoy your charcoal cooker.

Click here for recipes.

Cooked beer can chicken

Part 1: Storage Part 2: Preparation