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Do you enjoy rare-to-medium poultry?

I've been having a discussion with friends about how Jacques Pepin disagreed with Tom Colicchio on this week's "Top Chef" about whether one of the cheftestants overcooked her squab. Tom wanted it very much pinkish-rare, while Jacques and Lidia Bastianich both said they preferred it cooked a bit further -- something Colicchio chalked up to "generational differences."

Well, I'm definitely on the younger side myself, but the thought of any medium-rare poultry is very unappetizing to me, even with duck breast. I find the texture of uncooked bird unpleasantly gummy, even with a leaner cut. I've had chicken sashimi (made from breast meat), and did not enjoy it at all. It tasted very much like raw chicken smells, which ain't my cuppa.

I wonder if that's my American phobia of raw chicken influencing my taste. After all, we're taught in this country to treat raw poultry like radioactive anthrax dipped in snake venom. But I simply can't get down with pink in my bird. Am I alone?

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  1. All yard birds in my house are cooked to 165 degrees in the thigh. No bloody chicken here.

    1. I wouldn't say pinkish, but I like my chicken rosy. Everything that could possibly harm you bug-wise is very dead by 160 degrees, and at that temperature poultry can still have a smooth succulent texture. Above that, and the muscle fibers start to tighten up and separate into a dry stringy mess. Even 160 degrees is overkill, since you can pasteurize milk at 145 degrees for 30 minutes, or 160 degrees for 15 seconds. Obviously as you cook meat, it sits at whatever the final temperature is for more than 15 seconds, so 10 minutes in the 155 range is certainly adequate.

      1. Absolutely not. I cannot abide chicken that is not cooked all the way through. I even dislike the flavor and texture of brined poultry--even though it's cooked through, its juiciness is offputting.

        Then again, I loathe touching raw chicken and treat it as if it's plutonium.

        1. Duck I love medium rare (at least the breasts), chicken no.

          4 Replies
          1. re: LulusMom

            I'm not sure about medium rare with chicken, but, I've now eaten somewhat rosy chicken in my husband's roast chickens, and it is both moist and delicious, and I've not died yet. And, I say this having had a very unpleasant FP experience as a direct result of undercooked chicken.

            1. re: MMRuth

              I don't mind rosy but cooked. And absolutely, 165 is overkill. Unfortunately, when I'm cooking the Thanksgiving turkey, my dad refuses to touch it unless the breast is at 169. ::sigh::

              But there's a HUGE difference between rosy and uncooked. I'm referring to part of the flesh not being denatured, as in having its cellular structure altered by heat. It's night and day -- and I'm afraid of the night!

              1. re: dmd_kc

                I'd never thought of the word "denatured" but, yes, I draw the line at that as well!

                1. re: dmd_kc

                  ""But there's a HUGE difference between rosy and uncooked""

                  I too cook chicken breast where there is a very slight pinkish/rosy hue. It is cooked all the way through so there is no uncooked flesh but it's not overcooked. Beyond that it goes very quickly from white through out and over cooked.

            2. Chicken I want cooked through. Other flying stuff I'm happy to eat medium rare ( and prefer it for duck & pigeon)

              1 Reply
              1. chicken, salted and left in the fridge for a few days a la judy rodgers in her zuni cookbook is moist and the skin is crisp, crisp, crisp. and that, at the end of the day is what good chicken is all about.

                i like my duck rare. it's good to dry it uncovered in the fridge for a day or two. also helps to loosen skin from flesh prior to roasting.

                1. I was watching "Spain - On the Road Again" with Mario Batalia & Gwen Paltrow. They were with a Spanish chef who was cooking either squab or partridge and the chef seared it and was intending for them to eat it at that degree of doneness. Mario, ever adventurous, gamely ate the game! Gwen declined. Mario was sick all night.

                  I tend to think it's our American tastes and digestive systems. We just arent' accustomed to it.

                  I once had a Russian friend tell me Americans were too antiseptic. That if we expanded our palates we could tolerate more exotic fare, but I'm with you. It's MY phobia and I'm holding on to it.

                  1. its possible that its just the way ive been brought up, but i was always really grossed out by raw poultry. i think especially with the way we treat our livestock in the US its not safe to eat it unless its cooked through. i think maybe if it's organic then it might be alright but i doubt i would even like the flavor. in general i have never been a big fan of poultry, i like red meat and fish much more and hardly ever eat it anymor.

                    1. No poultry that isn't cooked through. Nothing rosy, not even duck breasts.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: anni

                        I don't like my poultry in raw stages. However, if it's rosy like others commented, I'm fine. Bascially if the juice is still a hint pinkish but is clear then I'm okay.

                      2. I enjoy my duck breast medium-rare temperature...and the only time I have ever had a squab was at a Chinese Banquet...which was served moist and not dry. I couldn't tell you the temperature, but I would suspect it to have been cooked through medium.

                        For years I have been cooking Turkey, both on the bone/carcass and turkey breast off @ 225*....when cooking the breasts alone, I cook through to what is considered slightly pink or rosy. Many of my guests have commented they enjoyed it and have never had it so moist and tender and actually preferred it that way. An added benefit is it definitely makes thin slicing much more easy for plates or sandwiches.

                        If you like Asian Style cooking, especially the Chinese method of boiling chicken, there are two classic poultry dishes.....One is simple boiled chicken in salted water and the other is Soy Sauce Chicken which is braised in either soy sauce or a master soy sauce recipe. Basically. the bird is immersed in the liquid and when the liquid reaches a slow boil, the pot is covered and the flame is shut off for 45-60 minutes. The bird is fully cooked through, very moist and tender....never dry. When the chicken is hacked and cut into smaller pieces...both the bones on the drum stick leg and thigh....when cut at a 90* angle straight through....you will still see the blood in the bone quite red. Over the years some have been squeamish to this at the table, but most do enjoy the final outcome of the poultry's results.

                        Myself, I cannot stand dried out white meat chicken.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: fourunder

                          ahem! ahem!!! fourunder, we don't boil, we simmer or braise; and we never ever hack but slice or skillfully cleave! My goodness!!

                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka


                            Ouch, my apologies.....how's this...it's known as boiled chicken......I did actually say was cooked off flame and braised......

                            1. re: fourunder

                              I know, I know. Just having some fun. On the other hand, good cleaver skills are as difficult to obtain as Western knife skills.

                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                Just having some fun

                                I knew that Sam....

                        2. Doesn't this rule apply, the meat of birds that fly,on the rare side, verses the ones that don't, have something to do with the fact that they fly and that there is more dark meat?

                          The chicken does not fly, the other birds, duck, squab, pigeons etc. do. They don't have white meat, or the meat is different. Gosh I know I heard that somewhere.
                          Red meat on duck or pigeon does not put me off, but bloody, yes that is going no where with me.

                          I want chicken cooked. I pull it from the heat when it is bloody at the bone, and then residual cooking completes it. Unelss I know where the poultry is coming from (not a huge plant) say a free range, organically grown chicken, then I would not take the chance.

                          1. I wouldn't describe my preference for chicken doneness as "rare," but I don't cook it to 165 in the thigh unless we have a guest who voices concern. (My dad is one such guest--he's in his seventies, if you want generational info.) Usually, the juices still run a little pink, but definitely not red. The flesh will have a rosy hue at 155 or so, and that's how I like it. I've put it back in the oven if it's still too red, because the flesh has a strange texture when it's too raw. Bleh.

                            1. I think I can enjoy poultry at all stages, from rare to well done, as long as it's not unsafe or cooked to death. I really don't believe there is only one "right" level of doneness for meat, be it chicken or hamburgers. I like medium-rare hamburgers, but I also like medium-well hamburgers for the different texture they provide. Similarly, I enjoy bloody-at-the-bone Chinese poached chicken as well as un-brined roast turkey breast.

                              I have a theory that a lot of people don't like less-cooked poultry because the safety issue has become intertwined with the taste issue, like how some older folks are put off by a rare steak because they think bloodiness is somehow dangerous. The difference with poultry is that there are legitimate safety concerns, but that doesn't mean that one can't "theoretically" enjoy the texture of rare poultry. If eating rare poultry was safe, I bet a lot of people would like it, but because of the whole salmonella thing we may never know.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Humbucker

                                I agree with Humbucker; with the distinction that I seem to like rare breast meat better than leg meat. Rare duck breast is great, rare leg less so; both are good fully cooked, too. With chicken and turkey, a medium-rare breast is fine, but the legs need to be fully cooked - something about the texture and the stronger flavor.

                                I tend to buy 'organic' poultry, so I like to tell myself there's less of a contamination concern than with standard commercially raised birds, though I strongly suspect there's little or no difference.

                              2. Absolutely no pink chicken. Just the thought makes me queasy-- it's taken me years to get over the chicken-is-toxic teaching as it is!

                                Rare-ish duck breast is OK.

                                1 Reply
                                1. Slightly pink, with just a bit of blood at the bone is my choice, because it is so juicy and tender. I like pork the same way, and can't abide the wardens who overcook these fine meats.

                                  1. I prefer chicken a bit "rosey", where there is a bit of pull between joints, but not raw looking.

                                    Hubby OTOH likes "pulled chicken" so it mushes off the bone. He adores any stewed chicken dish for that reason. He has been known to take his plate of carved chicken and nuke it for a few minutes to be more comfortable with his dinner. I let it go.

                                    1. Chicken - preferably dark meat - cooked through and tender. Ditto duck legs, preferably confit. Duck breast, on the other hand, medium rare, pink to light red in the center.

                                      1. I cannot and will not eat chicken that is not cooked thoroughly. I can't stand the texture or taste of chicken that is not cooked all the way through. And as a matter of fact, it has always been my experience that almost every chicken recipe I have ever used gives directions for a ridiculously short amount of time to cook chicken pieces on the bone.

                                        Almost the only recipe I have ever used that gives me perfectly cooked whole roast chicken every time is the tried and true Zuni salted and roasted chicken. That is one tasty bird.

                                        1. I want roasted chicken cooked through, but when I'm poaching breast off the bone I like it just kind of pearlescent - not really pink, but not dead white either. That's the only way I really like white meat (although I'll eat it even up to the balsa wood stage, if there's enough mayonnaise handy), and I enjoy it so much I always have to cook more than I need because I know I'll "sample" damn near half of it, "just to make sure it's right"...

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                            Addendum: cooked a dish full of chicken thighs in the oven last night, packed into a single layer w/ S&P, herbs, a good sprinkling of wine vinegar and scattering of sliced onion, one hour @ 350ยบ, then kept warm for another hour in the in-laws' oven. Came out pink at the bone. Mom took a bite and pronounced it good, so we sucked'em up. Note that the meat was pink but there was no visible blood, so you couldn't really call it "rare". It was very good, however.

                                          2. Duck is completely different to chicken, and I eat it medium rare or whatever.

                                            But overcooked chicken is horrible. Makes me angry. I have to have my chicken steaming and succulent. But not overdone.

                                            1. Not all poultry can be lumped into one category. Certainly things like duck, squab, etc. I will eat rare or medium-rare. I eat chicken or turkey "rosy" as others have described, though I will eat it raw or lightly seared if I'm somewhere I trust the product (like in Japan).

                                              1. Can't abide underdone chicken. And it is not really a good gamble to take with your health.

                                                Pierce flesh. If juices run clear yellow, done. Rosy? Not done. If it was good enough for Julia it's good enough for me.

                                                1. Cooked through, but still juicy. It is a real art-form! I have an ongoing debate in the family about chicken and turkey, since I "undercook" it but in the end, everyone seems to enjoy. I was out recently at a place in DC where one of the party ordered the duck with bosc pears. The waitress said the Chef recommended rare, but I asked (on my friend's behalf ) for at least medium rare. It came out succulent, cooked through, and still juicy, tender and tasty. No scare, no sweat, delicious!

                                                  1. BTW.....on turkey and unskinned chicken, I tend to put a mix of butter, garlic, and seasoning under the skin to help keep it moist

                                                    1. I personally have learned to enjoy undercooked chicken. Most people I know fully agree with the majority of the replies here -- rare to medium chicken is not only gross but at risk of serious health concerns -- and I understand the fear when taking into account our domestic meat production.
                                                      But I find it delicious and flavorful. Maybe the risk is part of why I enjoy it so much. But medium rare deep fried chicken is one of my great pleasures, even if it must be enjoyed alone.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: MisterTaylorJames

                                                        Using sous vide, you can cook a 30 mm thick chicken breast to 145* in about an hour and kill off most all dangerous pathogens to the core

                                                        It will have a texture of
                                                        med/rare. May be off putting for most who are not use to that texture in poultry