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Can I resume roasting my chicken after accidentally switching it off?
October 2, 2010 11:36 AM   Subscribe

I accidentally switched the oven off part way through roasting my chicken and left it off for 30-45 minutes. Can I put the oven back on again and end up with a safe-to-eat chicken?

I put the chook in at 190C with foil over it, but after half an hour switched the oven off (I'd put a shepherd's pie in at the same time so took that out after half an hour and absent-mindedly switched the oven off as I did it).

I realised my mistake after maybe 30-45 minutes and put the oven back on again. Has it been quietly incubating nastiness inside the cosy oven, or will it be fine to eat once the cooking time is completed?

My plan is (was) to take the meat off, make stock with the carcass, then put some of the meat back in to make soup, and eat the breasts separately tomorrow/the next day.

In case it's of any relevance, it was due to cook for about 1h20 and is a free-range corn fed chicken (which I guess might be slightly less likely to be salmonella-y but maybe that's a naive assumption...), bought from the supermarket this afternoon and put straight in the oven.
posted by penguin pie to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
You'll be fine. I honestly wouldn't be worried at all but if you must I'd just make sure it gets back up to cooking temperature (usually around 160F for a chicken).
posted by bitdamaged at 11:39 AM on October 2, 2010


It'll be fine to eat. Seriously. Everyone on this website seems to think that all food is a hairs breadth away from killing us at any given moment. Yeesh. The oven was off but still hot. You're gonna continue cooking it. This is basically just the equivalent of cooking something slowly.
posted by Kololo at 11:41 AM on October 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


Errr... I don't think that, Kololo, I'm generally pretty laid back about food, love a bit of raw steak now and again, scrape the mould off my cheese etc. I just know chicken's the one thing you don't mess about with, found this which was unspecific enough to make me think it would be worth asking those friendly folk on AskMe.
posted by penguin pie at 11:52 AM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


The US Department of Agriculture issues guidelines saying that food should not be kept in the "unsafe zone" of temperature for more than 2 hours cumulative. The unsafe zone is defined as 40-140F, or about 5-60C. You should be fine.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 11:55 AM on October 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was coming here to say what AkzidenGrotesk said. So, yeah, you'll be fine.
posted by cooker girl at 12:00 PM on October 2, 2010


(I could be wrong, but I don't think Kololo was talking about you, penguin pie; I think she was heading off a thread full of "Why take chances? Just throw it away!" answers that these sorts of questions always seem to attract.)
posted by Ian A.T. at 12:21 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, in view the guidelines from AkzidenzGrotesk, you're more than fine, you probably have discovered a new cooking method. Likely your chicken slow-cooked for most of the time, unless your oven lacks insulation.
I'd take special note of the result and if was especially good, I'd try repeat it.
posted by Namlit at 1:14 PM on October 2, 2010


Just as an anecdote, Crisco oil used to have an ad with (I think) Florence Henderson frying chicken using an electric skillet when an emergency causes them to turn it off and go away for a few hours. When they get back, they turn it back on and keep frying that chicken. The worst thing they were worried about was weather it would be soggy or would still be crispy. Yay! it was crispy.

Maybe that was just a fun old time when we didn't have to worry about salmonella, but it seems to me your chicken in the closed oven stayed hotter than Florence Henderson's.
posted by CathyG at 1:20 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


ICBWH but AFAIK in terms of safety it wouldn't matter if you left it out for hours and hours, as long as you fully cook it anything that may have happened when the chicken was in the unsafe zone would be neutralized anyway.

People don't always understand that it takes TWO factors to make you sick, infected food that is also poorly cooked.
posted by Cosine at 1:41 PM on October 2, 2010


ICBWH but AFAIK in terms of safety it wouldn't matter if you left it out for hours and hours, as long as you fully cook it anything that may have happened when the chicken was in the unsafe zone would be neutralized anyway.
That's not necessarily true. Staphylococcus aureus and enteropathic E. coli produce toxins that are heat-stable. If the bacteria had enough time to multiply and produce toxins, the toxins would still be in the food even if cooking subsequently killed off the bacteria.

But 30-45 minutes is nothing to worry about.
posted by brianogilvie at 2:11 PM on October 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


as long as you fully cook it anything that may have happened when the chicken was in the unsafe zone would be neutralized anyway.

That is not correct. It's not always the organisms themselves that make you sick; sometimes it's the heat-stable enterotoxins, sometimes it's exotoxins produced by the bacteria. Not all of these are rendered safe by cooking the food as you normally would, or even by cooking it to a higher temperature than would normally be desirable.

Food safety protocol exists for a very good reason: though obviously not everyone will get sick from every occurrence of risky cooking, it's a crapshoot whether any given diner will get sick this time.

And I mean "a crapshoot." Food poisoning is nasty even in its mildest forms.

OP, I agree that your chicken very likely spent little or no time within the "danger zone," assuming your oven is reasonably well insulated. Keep in mind that the recommendations for 2 hours maximum is cumulative: it includes all of the time the chicken was unrefrigerated, which might include transit time from market to home fridge, prep time, and the time it might sit out after dining before leftovers are put away. Still, it seems like it will be quite safe.
posted by Elsa at 2:21 PM on October 2, 2010


To clarify my own sloppy language: when I said "it's a crapshoot whether any given diner will get sick this time," I was speaking of some hypothetical "this time," not of penguin pie's chicken, which sounds like it's safe.
posted by Elsa at 2:22 PM on October 2, 2010


all food is a hairs breadth away from killing us

Only if your epiglottis goes all fifth columnist.

Seriously, I'd be surprised if it ever got cool enough for you to have to worry about anything.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:22 PM on October 2, 2010


Man. Another half an hour in the oven, and that was the most tender, succulent chicken I've ever cooked. Thanks, all :)
posted by penguin pie at 4:37 PM on October 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sounds like a new recipe!
posted by flabdablet at 2:19 AM on October 3, 2010


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