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Insert Clever Brining Pun Here
May 14, 2014 10:29 AM   Subscribe

I just plunked a whole chicken into Michael Ruhlman's quick brine. It is now sitting in a bag in my fridge. I deviated from the recipe in one big way--I used cold water rather than ice water for the cooling step. Now I am worried.

So, long story short, my freezer's ice does not taste great. So, at Step 2, I used some very chilly filtered water instead. The brine and its various components were definitely still very warm when I put the chicken in the refrigerator.

Has this warm brine taken my delicious chicken on a one-way express train to bacteria town? Am I going to die, or at least need to make something else for dinner? I searched previous questions plus did some general searching, and while the general consensus is that cooler brine is optimal, I haven't found definitive information to suggest that my chicken is doomed.

Help!
posted by anonnymoose to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
P.S. In case curious minds want to know, here is the recipe.
posted by anonnymoose at 10:30 AM on May 14


Try to stick the brine-bag in between some other bags filled with ice cubes?
posted by kiltedtaco at 10:35 AM on May 14


Given that the recipe itself has the chicken sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours, and then another hour after brining, I personally would not think twice about the alternative, refrigerated steps you took.

I am not your food safety authority.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:35 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


Every chicken I ate as a child was thawed by sitting in the kitchen sink overnight. I think you're fine.
posted by something something at 10:47 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


If you are at all concerned, quickly make up a batch of heavily salted water (1 cup of salt per quart of water), dump a bunch of ice into it (4 quarts of ice per quart of water), then stick the brining bag into that and stir for about 15 minutes. The salt water will greatly accelerate the cooling process. You will end up with ice-cold chicken in no time.

Obviously this relies on your brining bag being securely closed.
posted by jedicus at 10:49 AM on May 14


If you're worried, stick the whole bag into an ice bath now. You can likely cool the whole bag down to 38-40F in less than 10 minutes.
posted by foggy out there now at 10:51 AM on May 14


I think your chicken is fine, especially if you plan to cook it to 165F.
posted by epanalepsis at 11:03 AM on May 14


you're gonna cook the chicken afterward, so, no problemo. your refrigerator will promptly reduce the brining solution down to where it should be. chill out.
posted by bruce at 12:10 PM on May 14


My understanding is that ice is added to brines because you were simmering the ingredients, and didn't want to par-cook the chicken, or have the chicken sitting in warm water for a few hours.

The recipe says straight up you can use icewater - which is to say, cold, cold water. You should be all set.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:33 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


You're fine. (But please don't cook it to 165. 150 at the breast, 155 at the thigh.)
posted by supercres at 3:51 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


you're gonna cook the chicken afterward, so, no problemo.

This is bad, dangerous, and wrong advice. Disregard it please. If your chicken is contaminated, some nasty contaminants are the byproducts of various bacteria, and thus not susceptible to heat.

That being said? You should be fine. I would eat this chicken no problem.

I am a chef, I have food safety training, but I am not in your kitchen. If you are concerned, chalk it up to a mistake, chuck the bird, and order a pizza.

But like I said, I would eat this chicken without a second thought. The amount of time it'll be spending in the Danger Zone is not nearly enough to cause any problems.

I probably wouldn't serve it to a guest in a restaurant though, depending on the exact circumstances, but there are different considerations at play there.

(But please don't cook it to 165. 150 at the breast, 155 at the thigh.)

Yes, this. Due to residual heat, the chicken will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven, bringing it into the government-mandated 'safe zone' for poultry.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:08 PM on May 16


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