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Apr 10, 2009 03:43 AM

How Rare Do They Eat Chicken in Madrid?

We just came back from Madrid, and had an irritating experience that I wanted to run by people who were more familiar with Spanish cuisine. My wife order a chicken entree at Pan de Lujo, that was served rare. I'm not talking a little pink, I'm talking very close to red. It was so undercooked that it was hard to cut.

Of course, they were willing to send it back. (It took another 15 minutes before it came back the color which we would recognize as proper). But when we spoke to the waiter, he told us that the restaurant, and other places in Madrid, regularly served their chickens rare. That was supposedly the local style.

Now in US, if you served poultry that red, I think you'd probably have a health hazard. Salmonella is a serious problem here if you don't cook chicken properly. Do they really eat chicken that rare in Spain (or Madrid)? If so, is it safe? Can they serve it cooler, because the birds are raised differently in Europe?

We're just curious if what we were told was accurate or if we were fed a line by a kitchen that had served us a seriously undercooked entree?

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  1. No exaggeration, the best chicken I have ever had in my life I had in Madrid. Casa Mingo on Paseo Florida 34 (this was back in 2003 but am headed back in there in the fall, yes!). Lived in Madrid for a few months and regularly trekked an hour to wait in a long line to eat that chicken. It was never undercooked. It was always the same perfection. The place is both a machine and a storied Madrid institution and the sidra is fun. As I said I haven't been back since 2003 so I can't speak to what's going on in the MadrileƱo chicken scene these days.

    I certainly don't blame your wife, rawish chicken is one thing I would never want to put in my mouth. But I did find that most of Madrid looks like a health hazard to American eyes. Cooked meats sit out on the bars all day without refrigeration, but I never let that hold me back and I've never heard of anyone encountering a problem, and I never did. I'm just glad the US has lightened up enough to let in those uncooked legs of pigs that adorn every Madrid bar worth eating in. Yummy!

    1. I holiday in Spain a couple of times a year and have done for 30 years or so. Never been served chicken that was other than fully cooked.

      I've never been to Madrid but would doubt that the the Madridlenos have stronger digestive systems than the rest of their compatriots. I suspect you were sussed as a tourist who could be conned.

      1. Are you 100% sure you ordered chicken? While I've not heard of chicken served "rare" anywhere other than the Far East, duck, pigeon and many wild game birds (particularly the breast) are often served pink or even close to red.

        1. I think chicken here does tend to be cooked less thank in the US--but never dangerously so. You also will always have the dark meat along with the white. The birds are certainly raised differently here, and you can taste it. But that doesn't mean that there's no salmonella.

          What was the name of the dish?

          P.S. About what Figtastic said.... There is zero danger from eating dry-cured ham that's not refrigerated (it shouldn't be refrigerated, in fact), but an egg or mayo dish that has been sitting out on the bar for hours is another story--salmonella is a problem here in the hot months.

          3 Replies
          1. re: butterfly

            I can't remember the name of the dish in English or Spanish. It's the only chicken entree on Pandelujo's current menu (but the menu is not posted on the web) But it was definitely chicken.

            1. re: butterfly

              That ham that's been crawling with flies all day could definitely be a problem!

              1. re: pikawicca

                You cover the part of the ham that you are cutting with a piece of fat and a cloth to avoid any drying out or contamination. I've never seen one crawling with flies (then again flies aren't much of a problem in Madrid). I've never heard of a single person getting sick from ham. Egg and mayo dishes are another story.

            2. Never been served undercooked chicken anywhere in Europe, including Spain