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A fowl odor. How do I get rid of it?
September 4, 2011 11:39 AM   Subscribe

Shooting for the weirdest food question of the year -- how do I get the smell of varsol out of a chicken?

Okay, I'm not quite as stupid as it might sound -- I didn't wash my food in it.

Frozen whole chicken was taken out to defrost in the basement in the food sink overnight, and the laundry sink next to it had a dish of varsol with brushes soaking in it. This morning, getting ready to put in the smoker, we discover the chicken smells like varsol. I've scrubbed it with vinegar, rinsed it thoroughly, left it soaking in cold water for over an hour, and it still has a distinct varsol smell.

So, the question is....is there any way I can get the smell out, or should I even bother? I'm highly leaning towards tossing it, but it's organic and free-range, and wasn't cheap. If there's some way to salvage it that doesn't mean it tastes like paintbrushes, I'd be up for trying it.
posted by liquado to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I don't think that's going to come out. I would chalk it up as 'lesson learned' and get a new chicken.
posted by bolognius maximus at 11:43 AM on September 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


Try taking all the skin off? Maybe the smell only got that far. If the meat smells, though, I'd toss the whole thing.
posted by Quietgal at 11:53 AM on September 4, 2011


Cant you just smoke it as well as a second "safety" bird. Then if it still is strange you have one bird and if not bonus smoked chicken.
posted by stuartmm at 12:43 PM on September 4, 2011


Yeah, I would definitely not try to cook or eat a bird whose flesh stank of petroleum solvents. I know it wasn't cheap but I'd definitely just consider this one a loss and make a mental note to not do that next time. Even if you can get the stench out it might still be toxic for all I know.

That being said, varsol is petroleum based and so if you wanted to get the stink out you'd want to use a nonpolar solvent rather than the vinegar and water that you've tried so far which are both polar. (Hydrocarbons are nonpolar, and like dissolves like.) Perhaps if you soaked it in a bath of (cooking) oil for a while? Note that I would personally consider this bird to be more of a science experiment rather than a cooking experiment at this point. Still though, might be interesting from an applied chemistry standpoint.
posted by Scientist at 12:52 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eeewww..... count me as another vote for tossing it. I doubt there's any way to get the smell out, and it doesn't sound like it'd be safe (or tasty!) to eat it.
posted by easily confused at 3:40 PM on September 4, 2011


Thanks for confirming for me, folks -- we turfed the bird, and smoked two fryer chickens instead. Lesson learned -- put your varsol away when you're done with it, and don't let it hang out where there's food. Much as I might have been interested in the "for science!" aspect of it, we *were* having friends over, and didn't have the time to play mad labs with it.
posted by liquado at 6:21 PM on September 4, 2011


You did the right thing. If the chicken's fatty skin had absorbed enough petroleum-based solvent to smell of it, then it was not longer a "chemical-free" organic chicken.
posted by flabdablet at 6:36 PM on September 4, 2011


As far as 'science!' goes, I doubt the problem'll come up again, but if you wanted to do something like stuartmm's idea of going ahead and cooking it plus a totally-safe second bird: I'd make very, very sure to cook the two separately --- completely separate smokers or grills or whatever (heck, I'd probably use a disposable pan, if cooking it in the oven) --- you would not want to risk the 'polluted' one messing up the 'safety' chicken!
posted by easily confused at 7:12 PM on September 4, 2011


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