"Medium rare" birds.

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by cornelius, Nov 22, 2011.

  1. cornelius

    cornelius

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    A couple of months ago I cooked dinner for my brother, his girlfriend, and her son. I did one of my favorite "lazy" preparations of a young chicken: dismember it, put it in a 9x11 glass baking dish over a bed of sweet onions, season (Johnny's, Hungarian Paprika, and, oh, about a ton of freshly minced garlic. Well, okay, about a head.) and bake. (or roast?)

    Anyway, I pulled it out when it was done (lovely, juicy, and tender, about 165 degrees) let it rest while I made the gravy (yum, onioney garlickey chicken gravy)  and finished the sides, then served it. The meal was going wonderfully until said girlfriend made this disgusted noise, and exclaimed "This chicken is RAW!" 

    When I asked her what she meant, she pointed to the red around the bone of the leg she had been eating. She then said "I don't want to offend you, but this needs to go back in the oven." She then cranked the oven up to 350, and put hers and her son's portions back in for another half hour, which, in my opinion, completely ruined it. Chicken jerky. And, whether she wanted to offend me or not, she did, though I did not say so.

    I also didn't bother to explain to her that salmonella and most other nasty critters die instantly at  165 degrees, and in any event, grow on the outside of the meat. So barring parasites or simple rotten meat, as long as the outside is done to at least 165 degrees, you could eat the middle raw and be safe. Chicken sushi with the surface seared would be kinda disgusting, but it wouldn't hurt you. In any event, there was no danger whatsoever from my chicken, and if I had cooked it to the point where she would have been satisfied, it would have been way overdone.

    I have noticed this seems to happen more with young birds. For example, the meat around the bones of the legs and thighs of a 12 pound turkey is more likely to be red than that of a 25 pound turkey. The best explanation I have seen is that the bones of young birds are more porous, and therefore the marrow seeps out and colors the meat, though I have no solid evidence that this is actually the case. And most chickens you find in the supermarket these days are (were?) quite young. In any event, it seems to happen more with young birds.

    This is the first time I have encountered such a reaction, though. I have made this for many people over the years, and have, before this, never had a complaint. In fact, several have made a point to say they quite enjoyed it. Some were quite effusive in their praise, in fact.

    So, I am wondering. How "well done" do you cook your birds? Have you encountered complaints like this, and if so, has it gotten you in the habit of overcooking your birds to avoid them, or do you just ignore such things and cook your birds until they are done, and let the chips fall where they may?
     
  2. chefross

    chefross

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    More than you could imagine. Try this one on for size.....Cooking Coq au Vin (French chicken with wine) for 300 people and several plates come back with the very same comment...."this chicken is raw..." Although it was cooked for plenty of time.

    After processing the chickens are frozen. Any leftover blood that has not been drained from the animal will travel to the bone discolor it and make it look as though the meat is not cooked. Happens a lot.  Education is the key....but I know some people are grossed out by it.
     
  3. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I wouldn't take it personally, we are taught in our society to cook poultry and pork thoroughly and I don't blame anyone for wanting their meat cooked through.  To tell you the truth I don't particularly like to see red on my chicken either, no offense to you.

    Come to think of it, I like my beef medium rare but have several friends who like it cooked through.  I don't take offense to that either.
     
  4. sherbel

    sherbel

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    Please don't be offended, but you are dis-informed in regards to some food safety issues, in particular your belief that Salmonella and other 'nasty critters grow on the outside of the meat". That is not true.

    Salmonella is found in the digestive tracts of poultry, and is found even in so called "organic" chickens. Chickens that are chilled in water are often actually being given a bath in fecal soup, and that soup can find it's way deep into the bird, not just on the outside. Campylobacter is also common in chickens, and the current science calls for an internal temperature of 180 degrees (F) for safety. Your statement that chicken that reaches 165 degrees on the surface is safe to eat is very wrong.

    So with all due respect, I can't find fault with a parent wanting their child to eat food that is prepared safely. Although the appearance of redness near a chicken bone doesn't necessarily indicate an undercooked bird, it isn't something that I would eat. Nor would I serve undercooked chicken to guests.
     
  5. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    A couple of thoughts:

    First off, while the recommended internal temperature of chicken is 180 you do not want to cook it to that point. It will continue cooking while resting, and become dried out if you do. In fact, most of us nowadays consider 180 final temperature as equal to a dry bird.  So you cook it to a lesser point, and let it continue to the safe point.

    Second, (or, perhaps, this should have been first), the key is internal temperature, not surface temperature. The procedure is to insert the thermometer probe halfway into the thickest part of the meat, being sure to not contact bone.

    So, a roasted chicken with an internal temp of 165, allowed to rest, should wind up well into the 170s. Call it 175 for the sake of discussion. While not as high as USDA recommends, I wouldn't worry about it. If the juices run clear the chicken is done.

    With a surface temp of 165, however, who knows what the internal temp is? Considerably lower, though. And certainly not high enough to be considered safe. (According to CDC, btw, it requires sustained temperatures of 175 to kill the baddies). Cooking is defined at that point at which, due to the application of heat, the cells undergo a permenant, non-reversible change. That point happens to be 165F. Which means if that's the temp you reached on the surface, technically the chicken is first starting to cook at that point.

    That aside, there are two other factors in play. Those of us of a certain age (and, in many cases, our children) were brought up to believe that red around the bone did, indeed, mean an undercooked (not raw, but undercooked) bird. And, we actually were taught to overcook chicken as well. If juices were flowing, the bird wasn't done.

    Neither of those factors are true, not with modern birds, and most likely not in the day, either. But you can't easily overcome food biases that were ingrained at a young age.

    Now then, if the chicken you served was actually cooked through (based on your experience as a cook), then your measuring system needs modifying, because that didn't happen at 165. As to the rest, you're not going to change her mind, not at this late date. So just chalk it up to one of those things. Next time, make her a steak instead.
     
  6. dc sunshine

    dc sunshine

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    Good words KYH.

    "undercooked pork:" i.e. still a little pink inside.  My mother (76) refuses to eat it, while Dad (80) loves it as much as I do.  I've never h=had a bad reaction, as has been said, it's the ingrained thoughts that can put people off, no matter how you explain it to them.

    Eh!  If they are coming - serve Sashimi :D
     
  7. teamfat

    teamfat

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  8. sherbel

    sherbel

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    The pictures of the "safe" chicken look utterly revolting to me. But although I cook chicken thoroughly, it's not dry and overcooked; it's tender and juicy. There seems to be a pervasive (trendy?) desire to cook proteins just to the edge of being cooked, so that they're "juicy" (never mind the taste/texture), not just chicken (and evidently turkey), but shellfish and fish as well. Scallops that are raw in the center? Chicken with blood flowing, pork that's cool and quivering in the center.....just not my thing. It's not just a food safety thing issue, it's my preferred way of cooking (most) meat, having nothing to do with old fashioned ideas....nor with ego.
     
  9. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    First off, does anyone know what the HTI&M is? This is the first time I've ever heard of it.

    Other than that, I couldn't agree with you more, SherBell. None of that chicken looks appetizing. And I don't just mean around the bones.

    Take a look at figure 2, for instance. Testing might reveal that the breast meat is safe, meeting all approved bacterial levels. But it's certainly not cooked. Most people would look at it and consider it raw. As well they should! It was only "cooked" to 155F.

    I've long objected to the raw trend, and wish the celebrity chefs would stop pushing the concept. Watch when any of them cuts into a piece of meat they identify as medium, or medium rare. Fact is, most of the time the center isn't even rare. It's raw, with blood dripping out.

    Don't misunderstand. If somebody enjoys eating raw or ultra rare meat, poultry, and fish, let them do so. Just don't tell me it's cooked, when it so obviously isn't.

    The ultimate in this, IMO, is the "correct" way of cooking tuna: overcooked on the outside and raw on the inside. Just who made that rule? There is no reason it can't be cooked all the way through, and still be moist, tender, and flavorfull.

    The simple fact is, something can be cooked through without being well done. It would be nice if some of these celebrity chefs would learn that lesson.
     
  10. maryb

    maryb

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    The chicken in those pictures is NOT done. I cook to 170 generally and let it rest. If there is some reddish pink around the bones I explain to people that it is a chemical reaction and not uncooked chicken. If they question it put a thermometer in an uncut portion.
     
  11. french fries

    french fries

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    How about simply rare (or "blue"), as in Amagi Shamo? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/licklips.gif

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2011
  12. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    How about it, FF?

    If you like it that way that's all that counts. But "blue" is not the same as "rare." Blue is not cooked, but is, rather, barely warmed through. At base, it is raw.
     
  13. french fries

    french fries

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    Goes to show how cultural taste can be!

    As for blue, it also involves a quick searing (few seconds) on both sides, too, right? Looking at the chicken picture, I'd say it was torched rather than seared, but still I'd call it blue, wouldn't you? The skin is browned, and some (albeit not much) of the flesh is cooked. 
     
  14. iceman

    iceman

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    OK. I guess I need some educating now. What exactly is the attraction of undercooked chicken? Did I miss that point in culinary time where cooking chicken became rocket surgery? I remember it as a simple series: cook, rest/relax, cut, serve and eat. Have times/procedures changed? I guess sometimes it aint'e all so bad being a vegetarian/vegan. 

    Hey FF, is that a pic of chicken or tuna? If that's chicken OMG!!!    No chance in chances am I serving or eating that. 
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2011
  15. french fries

    french fries

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    It's chicken. My point was that the only reason we do not eat raw chicken is cultural. We've been brainwashed, since our young age, to believe that raw chicken is DANGEROUS (oooooh!!!!). The truth is, the stuff WE get from OUR supermarket, which WE call chicken, is dangerous raw. But real chicken, farm raised in normal and healthy conditions, does not present that danger. Many other cultures eat raw chicken. 

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  16. iceman

    iceman

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    OK then. I'm happy for you, being able to eat what you like. A good while ago I saw an early Anthony Bourdain TV show where he would travel around and eat cultural stuff. He was somewhere in SE Asia. They took some kinda bird, small goose or big duck or something else, but it wasn't a chicken. They just killed it and packed it in a "mud and other stuff" crust-ball; sorta like a "salt-dome ball", but with dirt, mud and leaves. They didn't clean it out or pluck it or anything. They packed it and put it in a hot fire full of coals. Later, they took it out, cracked it apart and ate it. It was nasty. Anyway, I guess  people eat what makes them happy. 
     
  17. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    As for blue, it also involves a quick searing (few seconds) on both sides, too, right?

    Yes, that would be correct, FF. Seared or charred lightly, but the rest uncooked. Indeed, if the term applied to fish (I've never heard it done so), the modern "correct" way of cooking tuna would be blue.

    And, again, so there's no confusion, I have no objections to anyone eating meat that way, if that's their preference. My concern is pretending it's anything other than raw. If not all, certainly most of the TV celebrity chefs would plate the chicken in your bottom, left-hand photo, and call it medium-rare or even medium. That's what I object to.

    The funny thing is that friends of mine who do like their steak blue never claim that it's cooked. Maybe that's why they don't have cooking shows?
     
  18. iceman

    iceman

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    I don't think so. I've never seen a TV show where chicken wasn't cooked through completely. Maybe in some kinda competition, but then it's been refused or sent back or the contestant got booted. Duck is the only med-rare I've ever seen. 
     
  19. cornelius

    cornelius

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    Of course I would never serve chicken that had merely been seared on the outside to 165 degrees, I was simply exaggerating to make a point. However, my reason for saying this is as a result of a rather lengthy conversation I had with an FDA food inspector, who assured me it was so. She also said she knew it was silly, but she couldn't bring herself to eat any ground meat at all, because it tests so high in bacteria, ground meat being basically all  surface area compared to intact animal parts. So, even though she knew intellectually it was perfectly safe, she saw the numbers when she did her tests, and those numbers were so  much higher when it came to ground meat. So no ground meat for her. Because the bacteria grows on the surface of the meat.

    Regarding realistic cooking, 165 degrees (internal temp) is perfectly safe even according to the FDA, which tends to err on the side of caution: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/UCM260394.pdf

    As to fecal soup, even if this is the case, (and I would remind you a marinade works through osmosis, and therefore will not work without ample salt) campylobacter dies after two minutes at 158 degrees, (70 degrees centigrade) which will certainly occur if the poultry is cooked to 165 degrees before it is removed from the oven. http://foodsafety.suencs.com/223

    E. coli (which is a bacteria normally associated with fecal contamination) dies at 160 degrees. I could go through the whole list, but to make a long story short, by the time the poultry gets to 165 degrees, the nasty little critters, whatever they are, are dead.

    Many people are squeamish, I realize. This is probably why poultry is typically overcooked in many restaurants. However, I was certainly not endangering anyone's child through ignorance. As I said, the FDA tends to err on the side of caution, and according to them, red by the bone or no, that chicken was thoroughly cooked and perfectly safe.

    I know you said what you did in an effort to educate, are probably repeating what you were taught, and I am not offended. In today's litigious society, the food service industry has adopted a "cover your butt" stance in restaurants, culinary schools, and food certification exams. Hence it is almost impossible to get a medium rare burger, or even an over-easy egg in a restaurant. I don't blame them for doing so, I just think it is a shame they had to.
     
  20. cornelius

    cornelius

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    'swhat I was talkin' about./img/vbsmilies/smilies/talker.gif