Tell me I'll die, so I can throw it away.
October 21, 2008 4:03 PM   Subscribe

I bought a Value Pack of chicken thighs at Safeway, like the frugal shopper I am... and then promptly left them on the kitchen counter for 3 hours, like the absent-minded bumbler I am. Scenario: cold chicken, fairly cold kitchen (maybe 65, as the heat hadn't been on all day), sealed package, November 2nd expiration date. I am assuming I just screwed up and wasted $9 worth of chickeny goodness. Am I right?
posted by allen8219 to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'd use it.
posted by spec80 at 4:07 PM on October 21, 2008

3 hours? Sealed? It's fine. Seriously, people have left chicken in their cars longer than that. Just make sure to cook it.
posted by GuyZero at 4:08 PM on October 21, 2008

Yeah, 3 hours is a long commute home from the store. No problem.
posted by rokusan at 4:11 PM on October 21, 2008

I've done much, much worse. As long as chicken doesn't smell funny, I eat it.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 4:11 PM on October 21, 2008

Best answer: If they've gone "off", they'll smell bad. Cook them thoroughly. I can't imagine our species could have remained carnivorous if we aren't able to eat cold meat that's been left at 65 degrees for 3 hours.

Has any askMe thread explored the theories as to why the hell so many Mefites keep leaving food out?
posted by bonobothegreat at 4:13 PM on October 21, 2008 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Make sure to cook it thoroughly.

Also: Your bigger concern will be making sure you don't cross contaminate something else, so wash the cutting board / knife / anything that has touched the raw chicken before using that item again on anything else. Be doubly, triply sure. That is where the real ickiness can happen, you cook the chicken fine, but then you make a salad on the same cutting board, and the salmonella moves to the salad, which is never cooked, and makes you nice and sick.
posted by mrzarquon at 4:14 PM on October 21, 2008

Eat them.
posted by pompomtom at 4:17 PM on October 21, 2008

Best answer: +1 eat.

Has any askMe thread explored the theories as to why the hell so many Mefites keep leaving food out?

That shiny thing in the corner? The one with the tappity thing in front of it? I think it's something to do with that.
posted by mandal at 4:23 PM on October 21, 2008 [30 favorites]

Eat.Them.Now. and BTW Mandal has the sub question totally nailed - Best Answer. Ever.
posted by Chairboy at 4:27 PM on October 21, 2008

You need to make fried chicken with biscuits and gravy. You need to make cornbread too. Maybe some collared greens as well. Then the chicken is good to go. Just like my granny used to make. (She would actually leave the chicken out on the counter on purpose to get it down to room temp so that the breading would stick to the chicken and it would cook all the way through. Subsequent research has proved that an unnecessary step, but she was working with older technology chickens too.)
posted by JohnnyGunn at 4:37 PM on October 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

When people ask questions like this, my answer is usually: Don't Eat It!

Not this time. Rinse them well with cool water, cook-em-up and eat them, or refrigerate the leftovers promptly.
posted by Good Brain at 4:50 PM on October 21, 2008

Make the chicken. Then bring it over to my house, and I'll eat it. Out of concern for your health, of course. Unless you're not a good cook, in which case you can eat it yourself.
posted by desuetude at 4:52 PM on October 21, 2008

Best answer: The USDA recommends that chicken spend no more than 2 cumulative hours in the "danger zone" of temperatures favorable to bacteria growth before you cook it. The danger zone is from 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

So if you get sick when you eat the chicken, you probably will be able to guess what caused it.
posted by billtron at 5:01 PM on October 21, 2008

Chicken going bad smells awful. Fresh raw chicken can smell anywhere from neutral to slightly salty to vaguely sick-sweet, but chicken that's going will smell disgusting.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:04 PM on October 21, 2008

Wash it first, but you'll be okay. Hell, you're supposed to wash it anyway.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:41 PM on October 21, 2008

Make sure to cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. They'll be fine.
posted by Roger Dodger at 6:11 PM on October 21, 2008

Just like everyone else said, I would eat it. just cook thoroughly and don't serve it as sashimi.
posted by lottie at 6:33 PM on October 21, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks everybody! I will wash thoroughly and cook the crap out of it, and hopefully there will be no unpleasant repercussions.

The silver box with the clicky keys is usually the culprit in these cases, but last night it was an unexpected visit from an old friend, followed by dinner out (while my frugal chicken enjoyed some time in the "danger zone").
posted by allen8219 at 6:49 PM on October 21, 2008

I was going to say: if you wasted the $9 by throwing the alleged chickeny goodness away, at least you'll never make this mistake again (leaving it out and wondering), so you would have bought and paid for the experience.

Re: the bad smell, sometimes with chicken you can't tell. I got violently fucking ill after eating some discount chicken from the local discount mart (first and last visit). Just thinking about it makes me shudder. Two days of absolute HELL and I'm 100% sure it was that demon chicken. And we cooked it properly and all that too. Ugh, what a nightmare! Also this wasn't Safeway or a chain or anything, it was someplace you've never heard of with some generic name like "Food Mart" or "Super Discount Grocery World" or "Neighborhood Unholy Stomach Parasite Breeding Ground and Market" some such thing. kthxbye.
posted by ostranenie at 7:15 PM on October 21, 2008

I can't imagine our species could have remained carnivorous if we aren't able to eat cold meat that's been left at 65 degrees for 3 hours.

Not to be argumentative, because that's not what AskMe is for, but there's a very big difference in terms of bacteria (&c.) between the meat-factory chicken (or whatever) that we buy packaged at the grocery store and the dead antelope out on the Serengeti somewhere. There's also a big difference, one can safely assume, between the degree to which our primitive ancestors (and folks in poorer nations these days) have built up resistance to bad bugs and the extent to which our mollycoddled immune systems can cope. And, to belabour the point, the prevalence of antibiotics in our food animals and our own systems have led through evolution to much tougher bacteria than our ancestors had to deal with.

All that said, I'd still cook the living hell out of it and eat it, too.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:09 PM on October 21, 2008

1. Smell is subjective. One person's "smells rotten" is another's "smells done." So smell is not a good indicator of safety.

2. Bacteria is on the chicken and has been growing for the three hours that it sat at room temperature. Factory raised chicken comes from the store swimming in salmonella and all sorts of other nastiness. The question isn't whether bacteria is there, it's whether you can cook it thoroughly enough to kill most of the bacteria so as to minimize your chance of becoming ill. Remember, bacteria grows exponentially. More bacteria means more cooking. More cooking means, over cooked food.

In short, the chicken will probably not make you sick as long as you cook it very thoroughly. USDA recommends cooking chicken to 165 degrees internal temperature. In your case I would cook the chicken in a crock pot or stew or via some other slow cooking method. You can fry or grill it, but you would wind up burning and over cooking the outsides in an effort to get the interior up to 165.
posted by wfrgms at 11:29 PM on October 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

For future use I'd strongly recommend a digital meat thermometer (the sort with the probe you stick in the meat). The point of these gadgets is that, as long as you have the probe inserted into the centre of the piece of meat, you'll know exactly when the meat reaches the correct internal temperature (the thermometer is usually calibrated to USDA-specified 'safe' temperatures for various meat types, and you can set an alarm to start beeping when it gets there). As well as being sure that your chicken is safely cooked, you'll never eat a dry, overcooked piece of meat again.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:56 AM on October 22, 2008

Response by poster: Chicken stew and chicken chili, here I come!
posted by allen8219 at 5:53 AM on October 22, 2008

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