Roasted piglet, beech, stuffed turkey or baked pork? The parties are approaching and you want to surprise your guests with a delicious Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve dinner. Before thinking about what recipe you are going to prepare or where you are going to buy a traditional dish, make sure that dinner is not going to make anyone sick! Read these tips so that your surprise does not cause a family poisoning.
For Latinos, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve dinners are the best opportunity to remember the flavors of our countries. How many do not we expect the parties to arrive to try a roast suckling pig or a tamale like the grandmother did?
The problem is that in search of satisfying those cravings, sometimes we forget the safety rules that we must take with food to avoid poisoning. That’s why in Vida y Salud we help you remember them so that your family can enjoy traditional delicacies without having to start the year with belly pain.
At the time of cooking
Many throw themselves to cook for the first time to surprise their families and friends. If that is your intention and you do not have much experience with traditional dishes, inform yourself beforehand about the care you should have with some foods that can be easily contaminated or damaged.
- If you are going to buy ingredients much earlier, check the expiration dates, and if they are meats, make sure you have enough space to keep them frozen for several days. Also check that the freezer is at 0ºF (-17.7ºC).
- Remember to leave the time necessary to thaw food, especially meat. It is more advisable to thaw the meat in the refrigerator from the day before, than to leave it on the counter of the kitchen.
- If you decide to buy fresh meats for your recipe, do it 1 or 2 days before.
- Always remember that raw meats should not touch other fresh or cooked foods because they can contaminate them with their juices. Freeze and cook them apart from the rest.
- Make sure you have a thermometer on hand to check the cooking temperature, especially the meats (turkey, pork, beef, lamb) because they need to be cooked at high temperatures to eliminate the bacteria they may have. It is recommended that you cook the meats above 325ºF (162.77ºC).
- Check the cooking times very well so that nothing is too raw because it can be dangerous, especially pork. This is also important when the recipe has eggs.
- Do not leave any dish out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours. If you prepared the food before dinner time, store it in the refrigerator and reheat it at the time of serving. It is not convenient to put food on the table long before it is time for dinner.
When buying food
There are many traditional dishes that are not easy to prepare at home, or you simply do not have the time or knowledge to make them. In order not to be left wanting, many people buy them already prepared in restaurants or Latino supermarkets, or even in the homes of families that sell food to increase their income at this time.
Although it may be a good option, be careful and make sure of the following:
- That the ingredients are of quality and that the conditions of preparation are hygienic.
- Make it a known place or have someone previously recommended you.
- If they have been prepared before, ask if they were properly refrigerated, especially when they are meat or include dairy or eggs.
Beware of “leftovers”
Who has not eaten the next day what was left over from the Christmas Eve dinner? There are those who say that it is the tastiest meal of the holidays. But some have also ended up in hospital for “leftovers” that were not properly refrigerated or kept for a long time. Be careful:
- When refrigerating food, make sure the refrigerator is at 40ºF (4.44ºC) or less.
- If you have been in the refrigerator for several days, smell the food before tasting it. It is not advisable to store food for more than four days only in the refrigerator, without freezing.
- If you think you can not eat the “leftovers” before four days, freeze them immediately and thaw them when you have time to enjoy them.
- If the food smells bad or has a different color, throw it away immediately.
- When you are going to repeat a dish, make sure to heat it properly and measure the temperature with a thermometer, especially if they are meat. The recommendation is that you should heat them to a minimum internal temperature of 165ºF (73ºC) and make sure that the sauces and soups return to boil when you reheat them.
Thus, having the necessary care, everyone can savor dinner and end the year healthy enjoying the rich Latin flavors that reach our hearts.