One of the first things I would like to discuss before cooking is the importance of preparing your chicken safely, even before you look at the recipe. I look at a lot of cooking shows and I am very concerned that many of the chefs and cooks take their meat straight out of the packaging, and proceed to cook without prepping the meat. By prepping the meat, I mean taking the time to cleanse and wash the meat before cooking.
According to the USDA, United States Department of Agriculture Food and Safety Inspection Service website, following are some of the bacteria associated with chicken:
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIPS
Contrary to popular belief, I am an advocate of cleansing and washing your meat, poultry, and seafood as part of the preparation process prior to seasoning and cooking. Some people believe that washing meat, poultry, and seafood will cause cross-contamination. My belief is that washing will prevent cross-contamination if properly done.
- Before and after handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- To prevent cross-contamination and spread of bacteria, thoroughly wash and sanitize everything that comes into contact with raw meat, poultry, and seafood, e.g. countertops, sinks, cutting boards, kitchen knives and other utensils, dishes, etc.
SIMPLE METHOD FOR CLEANSING AND WASHING MEAT, POULTRY, AND SEAFOOD:
- Remove meat, poultry, or seafood from packaging.
- Rinse of any liquids retained in packaging.
- Cut a lime or lemon in half and squeeze the juice all over, including the inside cavity for poultry. Usually, I will use one large lime or lemon per 4-5 pounds of meat or poultry. For seafood, I use a lot less to prevent "cooking" the seafood with the acidity.
- For meat and poultry, let sit for 15-20 minutes. For seafood, let sit for 2-5 minutes. As a general guideline, two minutes for shrimp and lobster, and five minutes for seafood with a denser texture like king fish steaks.
- Rinse thoroughly under cold running water until water runs clear.
The FDA, United States Food and Drug Administration website has recommended the following cooking temperatures for meat, poultry, and seafood. Using a cooking thermometer is useful for correctly gauging the cooking temperature.
Meat: Cook beef, veal, and lamb roasts and steaks to at least 145° F (63° C).
Ground Meat:Cook ground beef, veal, lamb, and pork to at least 160° F (71° C). Cook ground poultry to 165° F (74° C).
Poultry: Cook all poultry to minimal safe internal temperature of 165° F (74° C). Consumers may wish to cook poultry to a higher temperature for personal preference.
Pork: Cook pork to an internal temperature of 145° F (63° C), with a 3 minute rest time.