Chicken, With A Little Extra

by Matt on December 21, 2006



I don’t normally sound the alarm over here at mattbites. I want this to
be a nice, warm, feelgood joint free from alarmist scenarios. But I
just read on Consumer Reports that an "analysis of fresh, whole
broilers bought nationwide revealed that 83 percent harbored
campylobacter or salmonella, the leading bacterial causes of foodborne

Those numbers get even more dire when they looked at organic, natural, free-range and air-chilled birds that cost a bit more.

Eighty-three percent? Even with those so-called cleaner chickens? People, we’re talking dirty birdies here.

Ok, let’s understand one thing. This bacterium gets into our
little chickies because they root around and eat stuff. All kinds of
stuff. It’s normal. In fact, a lot of these bacteria are are always
present. It’s our duty to make sure we prepare our poultry correctly so
that the harmful bits and pieces go away, leaving us with a juicy,
delicious bird that won’t cause gastrointestinal distress.

And what happens when you don’t cook it properly? Well, you
serve it to someone like me, who then feels ill about 8 hours later but
figures it will run its course, which it doesn’t. And then you spend 1
1/2 days in the hospital with a severe case of campylobacteriosis and
an IV drip, wondering what you did to make the universe hate you so
damn much.

(And this, gentle readers, was in my 20’s when I was a
healthy, strapping young Latin stud. Imagine if I was elderly?

Since we all love food and share a basic
knowledge of proper preparation I’m not going to harp on the steps
necessary for a safe, clean kitchen, but it bears posting:

• Store chicken at 40° F or below. If you won’t use it for a couple of days put that bird in the damn freezer.

Separate raw chicken from other foods.
Immediately after preparing it,
wash your dirty grubby chicken-juiced hands properly with soap and
water and clean anything raw or touched. Adam is a freak about this
one, and when cooking we set out poultry cutting boards, poultry dish
towels, poultry knives and poultry cookware that remain separate from
everything else.

USE A MEAT THERMOMETER! No, seriously. I wouldn’t dream of going
without it now. How else am I going to know that my bird has reached
165 degrees? This is the number required to kill bacteria. Learn it,
live it, love it.

Read more here.

I guess this means I won’t be posting my recipe for Chicken Tartare or Poultry Sashimi any time soon. Damn.