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Safe way to thaw a whole chicken

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    Safe way to thaw a whole chicken

    We are doing smoked chicken this year for thanksgiving because everyone likes that better than turkey. The problem i have is that its a pretty damn big chicken i got from a family friends local farm and there is no way i have room in the fridge to thaw it. I was toying with the idea of leaving it outside to thaw but its below freezing a lot at night and 45ish during the day so im not sure that would be effective or safe.

    Any ideas?

    #2
    Large bowl. In sink. Slow, running water over chicken. Should work fine, in a few hours. I mean, how big can it be? 5-6lbs?

    Comment


    • grantgallagher
      grantgallagher commented
      Editing a comment
      Havent weighed it and since it came from a friend it wasnt tagged per say. Got to be at least 5-6 pounds though.

    • rickgregory
      rickgregory commented
      Editing a comment
      Yeah, I think tossing it in a bowl (so that it is submerged in water) and then letting a slow stream of water run over it so the chicken is in water that's tap temp should work fine and be perfectly safe. Too, it doesnt need to be completely thawed, just enough to prep it. If some of the thicker parts of the bird are still frozen or partially frozen, it just means slightly longer cook time.

    #3
    I think people are hesitant to give advice on thawing poultry because of the whole contamination thing. The following is not a recommendation: If I were thawing a six-pound chicken it would sit on my counter until I felt like it was a good start on the thaw, and then I'd put it back in the fridge for a couple of days. Then I would rinse any remaining ice crystals off of it on the day of the cook. But I can't recommend anyone else do this method because there's an outside chance that while the chicken is on the kitchen counter that bacteria could be multiplying. So don't do that. :-)

    Comment


      #4
      Personally, due to the whole contamination thing, and the fact tap water IS well above a safe 40F, my advice is to find a cooler or ice chest that will hold it, and put it in there, with a LITTLE bit of ice, or in a bag (so that it doesn't get water into the chicken) floating in an ice water mix, so that it thaws while staying at fridge-like 40F temperatures.

      It takes a couple days for me to thaw a 5 pound chicken from frozen, in the fridge, which I keep around 36-38 (for the garage fridge I use for such things). I would give it longer than you expect in the cooler, as you ALWAYS pour some ice in there to keep it safe until Thanksgiving day.

      The thing I personally dislike about big chickens is that they tend to be tough, especially in the breast, but possibly no more than turkeys. I go for 3-4 pound chickens at the most. And I slice them the way I do my turkey - take the breast meat off the carcass with a fillet knife, then slice across the grain into slices that folks can pick up off the serving platter, which is usually just my large cutting board.

      Comment


      • Mr. Bones
        Mr. Bones commented
        Editing a comment
        Yup, cooler, ice, outside...I do this with lots of proteins I pull from th deep freeze, due to my dinky 40+ yr ol fridge

      • IowaGirl
        IowaGirl commented
        Editing a comment
        I agree with the tendency for large chickens to be a little tougher and drier, although that's not necessarily true if the chicken is a capon (castrated rooster). Dad used to caponize a few roosters for his mom when I was little. Decorah, Iowa, about 1/2 hour away from where I live now, used to have local farms that raised capons and a packing plant just for these birds. Those capons were as large as small turkeys and very moist and flavorful.

      #5
      I have put them in a big ziploc bag and plopped them in the SV with enough ice packs to get it to 40 - 45º. Add ice as necessary and run for a 2 - 3 hours. I imagine you could SV the whole thing to finish temp then chill and smoke/reheat, but I've haven't done that yet with a whole bird, just parts.

      Comment


        #6
        Originally posted by jfmorris View Post
        Personally, due to the whole contamination thing, and the fact tap water IS well above a safe 40F....

        Not a safety issue unless your tap water is really warm (this is important. Obviously, don't do this if your tap water comes out at 70F). My tap is 56F right now.

        And you don't let it sit there for 12 hours etc... it's there for 1-3. Again, we need to use common sense - this isn't a method to do overnight, etc. The entire point of this process is that it's fast. You just don't start this and walk away for hours and hours.

        So even if one is leery of the temp slightly, it's not there long enough to cause issues.

        Like all of the food safety issues, the whole "OMG nothing between 40 and 140" is there for the same reason we're told to cook meat to 165 to kill germs - absolutes are easy to remember. But just as we SV things at 130F and it's fine as long as we do that for a long enough time, the water method is fine as long as you do it for a short enough time (just until the meat is slightly thawed).

        Finally (sorry to ramble), it's the temp of the meat that matters. If the bird is frozen, nothing's growing on it even if it's in a 45F water bath.
        Last edited by rickgregory; November 18, 2021, 02:15 PM. Reason: typos, evil evil typos

        Comment


        • Pobeque
          Pobeque commented
          Editing a comment
          This is how I've defrosted everything in professional commercial kitchens. Water bath, it should only take a couple of hours. Plus, according to the ServSafe certification I got a few years ago, the item has to be in the 'danger zone' of 40-145 for over 4 hours for bacteria to really get going.

        • rickgregory
          rickgregory commented
          Editing a comment
          Also, think of it this way. Say the chicken is in a 0F chest freezer. It's in a circulating, 55F bath to thaw. As the chicken warms it's at 3F, 7F, etc... to to 32F... not at 40F at all. Then it warms above freezing... 33, 34, etc. Finally, it hits 40F.

          NOW you start the clock. But nothing is growing on it from 0 to ~ 40F regardless of time and at 35-40... it's thawed and you stop the process and prep the chicken. Again, you don't just walk away for hours and hours doing it this way.
          Last edited by rickgregory; November 18, 2021, 01:17 PM. Reason: Auto correct is evil.

        #7
        I use the cold tap water method for thawing turkey breasts. There is even one brand I have bought (can't remember which one) that recommends this as a faster thawing method.

        Comment


        • rickgregory
          rickgregory commented
          Editing a comment
          It is fast. That's the advantage. Now, I'd NOT do this with a large, whole turkey because that's too big and would need to sit out for too long. But a ~5-6lb chicken will be fine as it will be defrosted (i.e. a bit above freezing) in a couple of hours.

        • CaptainMike
          CaptainMike commented
          Editing a comment
          Yep, my mother did that for decades and so did I.

        #8
        Originally posted by CaptainMike View Post
        I have put them in a big ziploc bag and plopped them in the SV with enough ice packs to get it to 40 - 45º. Add ice as necessary and run for a 2 - 3 hours. I imagine you could SV the whole thing to finish temp then chill and smoke/reheat, but I've haven't done that yet with a whole bird, just parts.
        I do this all the time. I set the SV at 32 degrees so the heat never turns on. That cycling water really thaws stuff quickly.

        Comment


        • Santamarina
          Santamarina commented
          Editing a comment
          This just added another bullet point to the “why I need a sous vide setup”list!

        • SheilaAnn
          SheilaAnn commented
          Editing a comment
          Santamarina while I personally won’t employ this method, I will gladly advise on other simple sous vide methods. Or provide educational links 🤓

        #9
        Brine from frozen in a cooler in the garage? I’ve done that with turkey in the past.

        Comment


        • SheilaAnn
          SheilaAnn commented
          Editing a comment
          “Kill two birds at one time”

          bbqLuv I see what you did there….

        • grantgallagher
          grantgallagher commented
          Editing a comment
          this, is a very interesting idea.

        • rickgregory
          rickgregory commented
          Editing a comment
          I mean, you could but it's the same thing as above, without the circulation and you still can't just walk away unless your garage is cold or you have a bird sitting in water that's warm(ish).

        #10
        I came across this picture from about 10 years ago, and could not resist sharing.... talk about "unsafe" thawing temperatures! I did this though, and everyone survived... I think I was just trying to speed up a thaw that had not progressed as quickly as hoped in the fridge, and let them float, changing the water several times for a few hours...

        Click image for larger version

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        Comment


        • Razor
          Razor commented
          Editing a comment
          If it doesn’t kill you it just makes you stronger.

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