Wht is best product/ material for drying chicken, fish or meat

Joined May 17, 2005
I am new to this forum and find it quite interesting and helpful. I need help!

What is the procedure that professional chefs in restaurants or catering do regarding cleaning & prepping chicken (and fish, etc.).

To be specific, when cooking for 100 people or so, for our own group, we are told to take the fat off chicken breasts & thighs, rinse the chicken and then lay the pieces on the counter, where there is an old towel with an old sheet on top of that. Then over the chicken pieces there is another sheet and another towel, to dry the chicken. After using the towels & sheets, they are soaked in water & bleach, then washed with bleach in the washing machine

This is also done with fish & meat.

I am concerned about this procedure for several reason, including efficiency and safety. It is inevitable that there are pieces of chicken & fish left on the sheet and the towel. Even if the towels & sheets are disinfected, there could be pieces deposited in the washing machine which can then be transferred to other items washed in the machine. Who wants little bits of chicken or fish anywhere, even if very clean and disinfected!

I know that rinsing chicken is unnecessary and not desirable from a possible food contamination aspect. However, that is going to continue.

The head cook has told us that paper towels are not okay to dry chicken & fish because of acids in them. Is that true? So far I have found nothing online about any problem with paper towels. I know that they are considered food safe by the FDA & USDA and we use them throughout the kitchen for multiple uses. Also, the head cook is concerned that pieces of paper towel can stick to the chicken.

I think it is smarter to just rinse, pat dry and put chicken directly into hotel pans or tubs to refrigerate until ready to use, rather than laying the chicken on the counter.

What protective and absorbent material can we use if we are still requred to lay the chicken out on the counter? What do professionals use to pat dry the chicken? What about the rolls of towels (brown, recycled, bleached) that are used for drying hands? What are the best brands, etc.

Are there special products or materials available that are food safe? I thought that the ideal would be to have disposable underpads that are similar to incontinent underpads (or those used for changing baby's diapers), but they are not food safe. And, the pads that are specific for meats & poultry packaging are too small for our use.

I would appreciate any help and suggestions for this issue, as we cook often for ourselves and we are a large group. The towel/ sheet combo is yucky!!! We want to do things as safely and efficiently as possible.

Thanks in advance!
Joined May 26, 2001
Lay the chicken out on the counter? For how long? Sounds like bad sanitation to me. :eek:

What if you were to suggest laying the chicken on racks over sheet pans, or in perforated hotel pans, and storing it that way (uncovered) in the cooler? That would dry it out pretty quickly AND keep it at a safe temperature until you cook it. And leaves your counter free for other prep work.

The "no paper towel" story of acid sounds like a lot of hooey. But the truth about using paper towels is that 1) it ends up costing a lot of money and 2) it generates a lot of garbage. So I would not be a fan of using paper towels the same way as the cloths are used.

I'm not so concerned about chicken in the laundry (what a thought: go to fold your underwear and out pops a chicken cutlet! :p ) as I am about detergent and/or bleach residue from the sheets getting onto the food.
Joined Oct 5, 2001

CostCo. In the automotive section they sell 18 packs of white shop towels for 10 bucks. I use about 6 packs a year. Anything too mucked for my washer just goes out. Otherwise, they work well, and are cheep enough that after a few dozzen uses when they no longer come clean, they either go to the garage for use on my vehical or in the trash.
Joined May 17, 2005
Thanks for the responses.

Didn't mean to imply that the chicken stayed on the counter for long. It's there just long enough to gather a small batch, pat them dry with those darned sheets and then put into hotel pans (covered with plastic wrap) and put into the cooler.

I quite agree that cooking will get rid of any excess liquid quickly. Laying the chicken on racks would work well. We would probably still have to put those towels on the counter for absorbency of juices, but I don't mind just the chicken juices getting on towels, which are used only for these purposes. However, the head cook is very insistent that we dry the chicken before putting into the walkin. We don't have perforated pans --would be a great idea, if we had more room. A few

The head cook also bakes boneless, skinless chicken, uncovered, without sauce, for the first 1/2 hour, then skims off all juices (she says are impurities and blood), then covers with a little sauce. I think the juices add to the flavor, but I'm not the "boss".

Yeah, going to dry our face with a towel and finding bits of fish or chicken--quite unsettling :eek:


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Look on the box. Many commercial packed chicken breasts are treated with a brine solution.

My suggestion is to first salt and pepper the chicken, dust them with flour, brown the chicken on the flat top on both sides, and then lay them out on a sheet pan. Put it on the speedrack to cool and stick it in the walkin. Pull it out when you need it and put the whole pan in the oven to cook. Should take no more than 15 minutes.

That's the preferred method for most chefs, flour optional.
Joined May 26, 2001
Sounds to me as though the "head cook" wants people to hate food. :cry: :eek: Dry, tasteless, overcooked.
Joined Dec 4, 2001
Paper towels... lots of them.

I use the Costco shop towels as kitchen towels too but I don't waste them on drying washed proteins. Just paper towels. Then, if I have the time I air dry poultry in the fridge for a few hours. Wet poultry skin doesn't crisp up so well as dry skin.


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