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lullyloo

Roasting a Chicken

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Yes, I agree with you that some "serious" heat would have to be worked in at the beginning or the end.


“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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I think there are places where LTLT just doesn't fit.  I think a chicken has got to be one of them.  I just can't see myself rolling the dice on salmonella.

Maybe if you threw some serious heat at it for a minute and then lowered it?  Still, I think the nasties aren't just potentially on the surface in chicken, are they?

Yes, I agree with you that some "serious" heat would have to be worked in at the beginning or the end.

Other than for aesthetic reasons, if you're cooking your bird to 160 F (for example), why does it matter how it got there?

Edit: fixed quote


Dave Scantland
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Eat more chicken skin.

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Dave: If I roast a chicken at 160 degrees then brown it for "looks," can I consider the USDA guidelines of passing through the danger zone (40o to 140o F) as quickly as possible irrelevant?


“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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I'm not going to tell you to ignore the FDA. But I'll point out that the FDA has to deal with the lowest common denominator; it is their job to err on the side of caution. Look at how difficult it is to find the answer to a simple question like: at what temperature do salmonella bacteria die? The FDA would rather be damn sure you kill all the bugs, so they don't tell you. They only recommend overcooking. Thermometers lie, they're subject to misuse, people sometimes behave stupidly. The FDA has to account for this, and more, in their guidelines. That's OK with me; nuance is not their forte, nor is it their mission.

But as a cook, nuance is a valuable tool, and with proper information, I can employ it to better effect.

Three minutes at 140 F will kill salmonella. It is killed instantly at 160.

Of course, the concern is that not all of the bird will get to 160, and you can't check every millimeter to be sure. But if you're roasting at 160, I'd say every bit of your chicken will spend a lot more than three minutes at 140 -- half an hour is more like it. I'd eat chicken cooked this way without trepidation (especially if you were doing the cooking, Paula).

Now, tell me how to roast at 160. It's intriguing, because theoretically, you chicken would never be overdone; you could hold it there indefinitely while you made the gravy and mashed the potatoes. But my oven won't reliably go lower than 170 . . .

(For the record, salmonella might be less of a concern than campylobacter, the the leading cause of bacterial diarrhea in the U.S. There are probably numbers of cases in excess of the estimated cases of salmonellosis . . .)


Dave Scantland
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dscantland@eGstaff.org
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Eat more chicken skin.

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On a related note: With commercially produced poultry, the working assumption is that it is contaminated with harmful bacteria that need to be killed. Is this due to the inherent nature of the animal, or how it is processed? In other words, if I was holding a healthy live chicken and had the appropriate level of knowledge and skill, could I produce a safe, bacteria-free carcass ready to go into the roasting pan?


Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

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From the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition:

Norman J. Stern, Ph.D., research leader for the unit, says the infection of poultry broiler flocks typically occurs at week three in the six-week growing cycle. It's not unusual, he says, for Campylobacter to infect the entire flock.

Things only get worse by the time the chickens reach the processing plant, he says. USDA studies have found a hundredfold increase in bacteria amounts on the birds' exterior from that detected on the farm.

From elsewhere on the same site:

Various Salmonella species have long been isolated from the outside of egg shells. The present situation with S. enteritidis is complicated by the presence of the organism inside the egg, in the yolk. This and other information strongly suggest vertical transmission, i.e., deposition of the organism in the yolk by an infected layer hen prior to shell deposition. Foods other than eggs have also caused outbreaks of S. enteritidis disease.

In other words, by the time you get the living, breathing bird, there's a chance it's already infected. There's also a chance you, as the "processor" in your example, might just make it worse.


Dave Scantland
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dscantland@eGstaff.org
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Eat more chicken skin.

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Thanks so much for your input. It has been extraordinarily interesting.

I wish I knew about egullet a year ago and we had this forum at that time. Since I didn't I did the next best thing: I did an adaptation of Adelle Davis' recipe for a new book using one created by Christopher Kimball, editor of Cook's Illustrated, in his January/February, 1996 issue. Mr. Kimball starts by cooking a 3 1/2 pound chicken, set on a rack in a 375 degree oven, for half an hour which brings the internal temperature to a safe 140 degrees. Then he reduces the oven temperature to 200 degrees and slowly roasts the bird for an additional hour. About a half hour

before serving, he raises the temperature again to 400 degrees.

The chicken is done in about 15 minutes when the internal temper-

ature of the thigh reaches 165 to 170 degrees. That final blast of high heat browns the skin to a gorgeous golden crust. A final resting period before serving delivers a wonderful chicken, moist and succulent and divine.


“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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Thanks, Dave, for explaining "the problem with chickens".

I am also trying to wrap my head around a way to slow roast a chicken. I keep trying to tell myself that the interior of the meat should be sterile and that the potentially contaminated surfaces will not stay in the danger zone any appreciable amount of time. Now, I am not so sure. Spatchcocking (what a word) could help with more rapid heat distribution, possibly.

I seem to remember a recipe on a thread here that called for putting a whole chicken in a crock pot. It sounded intriguing but now I wonder about it.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I found that crock pot recipe. It is from Chef Fowke and the chicken is covered with stock. Forget about the worries. It is in Best Chicken Ever I think about page 3 or so. Then later he describes another variation that sounds to die for.

*getting crock pot off the shelf*


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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speaking to wolfert's cooking method, i've read (or watched) people suggest that it's best to start off at a lower temp and then raise it at the end to brown the skin (rather than the other way around).

has anyone tried this?


Edited by tommy (log)

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speaking to wolfert's cooking method, i've read (or watched) people suggest that it's best to start off at a lower temp and then raise it at the end to brown the skin (rather than the other way around).

has anyone tried this?

That's what Wolfert's method does, doesn't it?

About a half hour before serving, he raises the temperature again to 400 degrees.

Dave Scantland
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dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Tommy: Heston Blumenthal starts the chicken off at 75C until the internal temperature is 65 C then removes the chicken from the oven. He raises the oven temperature to the highest heat, returns the chicken to the oven and blasts it for a great browning followed by a reasonable resting. I've done variations on this and also the 1972 version of Adelle Davis's recipe (see my posting on page 1) and everytime I managed to produce a very succulent chicken without any loss of moisture. My problem as a food writer then came into play: No magazine or book wanted to publish anything with those low temperature guidelines.

I finally found 3 methods that do produce great roast chicken: the hearthkit; the romertopf; and Michael Chiarello's cocorico. The last one you roast the chicken upside down and it works great.

As for spatchcocked chicken with a brick: sur la table now sells a real clay mattone set for under 20 dollars. It isn't roasting but it produces a very silky and succulent chicken.


Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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Fifi --- it's on page four of the thread. But how hot does a crock pot get how quickly? I have had salmonella twice (many years ago) and it wasn't so much fun that I want to do it again.

According to Rival (manufacturers of the original Crock Pot):

Q: What temperature does the low setting and high setting reach?

A: With gradual heat build up food generally reaches a temperature of 170° to 180° F and liquid will each around 200° F.

Their FAQ is here.


Dave Scantland
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dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Fifi --- it's on page four of the thread. But how hot does a crock pot get how quickly? I have had salmonella twice (many years ago) and it wasn't so much fun that I want to do it again.

According to Rival (manufacturers of the original Crock Pot):

Q: What temperature does the low setting and high setting reach?

A: With gradual heat build up food generally reaches a temperature of 170° to 180° F and liquid will each around 200° F.

Their FAQ is here.

And Dave beats me to it... again. (I was busy posting the coconut chicken recipe for that other thread.)

What they DON'T say is how quickly you can expect the whole pot full to reach temperature. For instance, could you get in trouble with a whole chicken that was put in there directly from a very cold refrigerator?

BTW... Rival now has some really cool looking crock pots. When I bought mine a few years ago, I had trouble finding one that didn't have geese with blue bows around their necks!


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I didn't mean to scare anyone off the idea of slow-roasted chicken. I think it's a good idea, as long as you're careful -- though you should always be careful, and especially with chicken and chicken products.

Let me repeat the numbers:

Three minutes at 140 F will kill salmonella. It is killed instantly at 160.

Of course, the concern is that not all of the bird will get to 160, and you can't check every millimeter to be sure. But if you're roasting at 160, I'd say every bit of your chicken will spend a lot more than three minutes at 140 -- half an hour is more like it.

In case I haven't been clear, in my opinion, this is a perfectly safe way to cook a chicken. It is as valid (from a safety standpoint) as 40 minutes at 450, or 75 minutes at 350.

Wolfert, as we used to say around here, if you are comfortable and have the time: how do you feel about depriving your fans of a safe, delectable method of preparing chicken because magazines don't trust their readers? Or have I got that wrong? I think it's sad.


Dave Scantland
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dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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What they DON'T say is how quickly you can expect the whole pot full to reach temperature. For instance, could you get in trouble with a whole chicken that was put in there directly from a very cold refrigerator?

BTW... Rival now has some really cool looking crock pots. When I bought mine a few years ago, I had trouble finding one that didn't have geese with blue bows around their necks!

For purposes of food safety, it doesn't matter how quickly it gets to temperature. The chicken will be at an elevated temperature for hours. That's where your margin of safety comes from.

(You don't like the Formal Geese? :blink: )


Dave Scantland
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dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I am with Dave on this one. All of us SSBs just have to get all of the facts out there. I will personally try this without any trepidation. And I am the victim of many attacks of Salmonella or their ilk. I attribute that to the revenge of the bugs since I killed off their ancestors by the billions in my stint as a foods microbiologist. That may sound like I should know better. Actually, I only did it to myself in my own kitchen once. And, yes, what I did was really dumb and I should have known better. My theory is that if anything does grow a bit through the transition, it will be killed off at the end.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Dave: Everyone is worried about being sued.

I gave the guidelines for the adelle davis and the blumenthal methods above. I think most readers of egullet can take it from there.

Personally, I don't like the crockpot for cooking a whole chicken though I use it for simmering the carcass all night to produce a lovely broth.

For those who have tried cooking a whole chicken in the crock pot, I'm sure they noted how bland the chicken t is even with proper seasoning. I think it has something to do with the plastic or glass cover.


Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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You're right about lawsuits, of course. Even a suit without merit is expensive, time-consuming and potentially damaging. Truth, as they say, is the first victim.

I've never done chicken in a slow cooker, as I suspected that the outcome would match your description. But I'm tempted by Chef Fowke's preparation, and will try that soon.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Have you tried roasting a chicken in a romertopf? Basically you soak the top and bottom for 15 minutes while preparing your chicken. Put the chicken in it, cover, and place in a cold oven. Roast at 100 degrees higher than normal and about 15 minutes longer. Take off the cover and let the bird brown..Basically you have a beehive oven. It's the closest thing to the kind of stoneoven roasted birds I've tasted in many parts of the Mediterranean.

By the way, it's great for baking bread.


“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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I have been doing whole chickens and pork in a Romertopf for several years and it works very well -- moist, suculent and nicely browned. I usually put a few vegetables under the chicken, and then remove them before the browning.

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:laugh::laugh::laugh:

OK... I know about the flower pot trick... but I can't get the picture out of my brain of a chicken with petunias.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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