Make sure your chicken is dead

Welcome to my little corner of culinary delights.  I will begin with a presumed fallacy on the Internet, which is in itself a fallacy.  Always beware of information from the Internet.

This Web site lists some so-called cooking fallacies.  Under “Fallacy 1,” we are led to believe that hot food should go directly into the refrigerator.  This article includes a quote from a Ms. Moir stating that food should be taken out of the danger zone as quickly as possible.  I totally agree with her.  However, the article uses the quote irresponsibly by misapplying it.

Hot foods in the refrigerator would start warming nearby foods.  Every minute food is in the danger zone drastically reduces shelf life.  This puts a strain on the compressor as well.  Since the refrigerator is set between 35-40° F, it would take hours to bring the food down to a safe temperature.  It works on an expediential curve that spreads out near the bottom of the graph.  Due to a high differential of temperature, the food cools faster at the beginning.  However, once it comes closer to 40° F, the cooling effect drastically declines.  One other problem is that the heat from the center must transfer to the surface, thus retarding the overall cooling effect.

For rapid cooking, the correct procedure is to employ an ice bath.  This bath provides a constant temperature of 32°F, which is better than 40°F.  You are than able to use a wide, shallow holding container for more exposed area so it will cool even faster.  A commercial ice paddle can be used to help things along.  Circulating the food encourages more contact with the cold surfaces.  The food is out of the danger zone in 30 minutes or less in an ice bath as opposed to hours in the refrigerator.  Bottom line: never put anything hot into the refrigerator.

Under “Fallacy 5,” we are led to believe that raw chickens should never be rinsed.  This might be a valid concern if the chicken is still alive.  It could splash around and get water everywhere.  Therefore, make sure your chicken is dead, gutted and plucked.

On a more serious note, problems may occur when one is slovenly or sloppy in the kitchen.  The Web site suggests that the water could splash onto ready-to-eat foods or onto washed dishes, etc.  This could be possible if the dishes were not put away and your cooked foods were kept on the drain board of the sink.  It is a common procedure that everything is cleared off and prep table sanitized before any food preparation takes place.  Thus, all dishes are put away.  Ready-to-eat and cooked foods are either on the dining table or on a countertop far removed from the sink area.  A properly designed kitchen does not combine food areas with the wash station.  Toxins need to be rinsed from all raw poultry as well as roasts first thing.

Until next time, peace to all.

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