A very interesting practice came up in this week’s Foundations Series class about how we handle raw chicken and meat. Before I tell you what sparked the debate, take a moment and ask yourself the question; “Do I wash raw chicken or meat under the tap when I remove it from the package?”
In studying cooking methods and the theory behind roasting and browning meat and poultry, one of the first principles we discussed is that food must be dry before cooking. If not, an adequate seal or brown sear does not form.
To illustrate this and other lessons, we prepared a delicious beef braise or stew, Boeuf bourguignonne and a classic Roast Chicken.
As I was demonstrating how to prepare the whole chicken for stuffing, a few jaws dropped when I took the chicken out of the package, patted it dry and proceeded. “How could you not wash it?” “It’s dirty!” and “Who knows what it’s come in contact with?” the students exclaimed.
I was taken aback. I knew from a culinary perspective, meat and poultry should not be washed, but from a food safety standpoint I was unsure. After class I did some research.
According to the Government of Canada, 4 quick tips to Food Safety are; Cook, Clean, Chill and Separate. But under clean they only talk about washing hands and surfaces with warm, soapy water. They don`t mention washing the food at all.
The USDA is more direct. Under their Food Safety and Inspection Service, it states that “washing raw poultry, beef, lamb, or veal before cooking is not recommended. Bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can be spread to other foods, utensils, and surfaces. We call this cross-contamination. Cooking (baking, broiling, boiling, and grilling) to the right temperature kills the bacteria, so washing food is not necessary.”
So if you answered yes to the above question, think again. The next time you feel the urge to wash raw meat, remember that not only is it not good cooking practice, it is irrational because it doesn`t accomplish what you think it will and can actually spread harmful bacteria to your sink and other kitchen surfaces.
It turns out that in this case the delicious lesson agrees with the science lesson.
Shabbat Shalom from My Kosher Kitchen,
Nancy Weisbrod, Director of Culinary Education, Kashruth Council of Canada
PS Click on Beef Bourguignonne above to go to the recipe.