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Slow cooker recipes often need to cook for 6 or more hours. As I mainly eat my main meals at lunchtime, that means getting up particularly early to prepare the dish.

Is it safe to delay the start of cooking dishes that use meats such as chicken/beef/etc?

If this is not safe, what process can I follow to have a safe meal ready at lunch without having to cook in the middle of the night?

  • If it seems to you that the original question (food at room temperature) doesn't answer your question: we cannot do any better than that, because we cannot guess what temperature the meat in your slow cooker has, and how long it spends in the danger zone. If you can measure it and ensure that it is within the limits, then it is safe, if you can't, then it is unsafe. – rumtscho Aug 31 '17 at 12:58
  • @rumtscho : the question being asked is "is there a way to do it". Please stop doing the knee-jerk reaction and linking everything mentioning slow cooker and some sort of a period at room temp to that question. And it wasn't even about chicken -- beef was an alternative, too. – Joe Aug 31 '17 at 14:38
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    @Rich, your better option would be to get one of the electronically controlled slow-cookers that will switch over to 'warm' after a certain time, or that has a probe that you insert into the meat so that it'll switch to 'warm' after a given temperature. I saw once (but it might've been on kickstarter) someone who had made a slow-cooker that could chill, so you could do what you're asking, but the price was rather high when electronic controlled cookers can get similar results. – Joe Aug 31 '17 at 14:42
  • @Joe I do not see "is there a way" in the question, the OP asks if their two envisioned ways are safe. If you think that there is a related question that can be answered, please edit it in before voting for reopen, else people will expect and answer the question that is being asked, making it a duplicate. And duplicates don't have to be exactly identical - in this case, it doesn't really matter if it is chicken or beef. – rumtscho Aug 31 '17 at 14:46
  • @rumtscho : it's an XY problem : perlmonks.org/index.pl?node_id=542341 ; meta.stackexchange.com/q/66377/139598 . He's giving his ideas of how to do it (eg, starting with frozen meat) as an alternative, but missed the one that would be safe. – Joe Aug 31 '17 at 14:49
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You could leverage an approach I used when I had small children and wanted to make meals that would take 45-60 minutes, yet we needed to eat within about 10 minutes of getting in the door. I would make Tuesday's dinner after dinner on Monday, then put it in the fridge and warm it up the next day.

Here's how that would work for you: on Monday, after lunch, start the slow cooker. Let it go all day. in the early evening it will be done. Cool it and put it in the fridge, all tender and fully cooked. The next day, warm up your serving and you are all set.

If you alternate the kinds of tough flavourful meats that benefit from a long slow cook with those that cook more quickly and can be prepped right before your main meal, you can essentially alternate cooking and noncooking days, lowering overall effort.

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