Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Save a Step. Don't Wash Your Poultry.

I have always washed my chicken and turkey (pieces or whole) in the sink before cooking them.  The only reasoning I can provide...tradition.  My mom, like so many other cooks, was my first culinary instructor. She would always clear out the sink, rinse, pat dry, and season meat all there.  So, of course, when I started cooking for myself and my family, that's what I did. Never questioned it.  Wait, why am I Baptist?

Anyway,  I recently attended a Penn State Extension workshop where we talked briefly about food safety in commercial kitchens.  The instructor asked, "Who still washes their chicken?".  I joined everyone else in the room who did that slow hand raise while giving everyone else the side-eye.  Yeah.  The instructor quickly let us know that there is no reason for this practice.  In fact, you're really increasing the chances of spreading harmful bacteria, like salmonella, because so few people actually take the time to properly disinfect contaminated surface areas. 

If your argument for continuing to wash your poultry is at all related to smell or a slimy texture, you might want to switch stores.  Raw poultry can safely be held in your fridge for up to 2 days.  After that, you will experience an unpleasant aroma. Don't risk it.  If you find that your poultry is a little too wet right out of the packaging, just pat it dry with a paper towel. Don't forget to take out the trash!

Bottom line, the only proven way to kill bacteria from raw poultry is by ensuring that the internal temperature has reached 165°F.  For the most part, I've had good luck relying on the pop-up timer when roasting a whole bird.  I usually take the temperature of the inner thigh making sure I avoid the bone, too.  The juice should be clear. 

So, by not washing your poultry, I saved you what...5, 10 minutes? You're welcome.


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