I often get questions regarding food storage. The other day someone asked me, “Hey Chef, I read that I should let my steaks rest at room temperature for a little before throwing them on the grill. Is that healthy?” The question sparked to us the Rule of 4’s. The rule of 4’s is a common technique used by restaurants. The rule of 4’s is simply stated as follows: Four hours on the counter, four days in the refrigerator, and four months in the freezer.
Now, I do recommend a little judgement when implementing this rule. For example, if it’s 100 degrees, do not leave food on the counter for 4 hours. C’mon, man, that would just be stupid! Here’s a few tips on this guideline. At room temperature, it will take about 4 hours for food to start harboring bacteria. So, it is fine to let a steak sit on the counter for 15 minutes before cooking. So, how long are leftovers ok in the fridge you may ask? That’s what the four days means. Just make sure that you have it in an airtight container. If you use that Styrofoam container that Applebee’s gives you, I promise you that your food won’t last one day. As for the freezer, you have 4 months. Again, be sure to use an airtight container.
If you don’t already own one, I would highly recommend a Miracle Thaw for thawing out the frozen slices of meat. It is a necessity for anyone who stores meat in the freezer. You can thaw a one-inch steak in 30 minutes or less safely.