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How Rare Do They Eat Chicken in Madrid?

matabb Apr 10, 2009 03:43 AM

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?

  1. f
    Figtastic Apr 10, 2009 04:23 AM

    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 Madrileño 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. h
      Harters Apr 11, 2009 08:10 AM

      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. Frodnesor Apr 11, 2009 12:59 PM

        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. b
          butterfly Apr 12, 2009 05:44 AM

          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
            matabb Apr 12, 2009 02:39 PM

            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
              pikawicca Apr 12, 2009 03:14 PM

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

              1. re: pikawicca
                butterfly Apr 13, 2009 07:40 AM

                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. pikawicca Apr 12, 2009 03:13 PM

              Never been served undercooked chicken anywhere in Europe, including Spain

              1. e
                espalter Apr 15, 2009 09:08 PM

                I lived in Madrid as an expat executive for over 4 years and I ate out a lot and at all types of places. Further, I tend to like my meat done to about medium -- I do not like red steak, I like my steak pink in the middle. I NEVER WAS SERVED IMPROPERLY COOKED CHICKEN IN MADRID OR ELSEWHERE IN SPAIN. I NEVER WAS SERVED CHICKEN THAT WAS PINK, LET ALONE RED. I NEVER WAS SERVED CHICKEN WITH OTHER THAN CLEAR JUICES. Hope this helps. Also, I went to Casa Mingo often, sometimes just to get a roast chicken "to go". The place was great. Too bad no french fries though.

                Also, the jamon is fantastic. Never any fly problem either. Never got food poisoning in Spain. NYC, yes; Spain, no.

                4 Replies
                1. re: espalter
                  MOREKASHA Apr 16, 2009 03:27 PM

                  Hell, I've been going to Madrid for years and now have pals who live there. I don't think I've ever had chicken in Spain. As for flies on Jamon, huh?

                  1. re: MOREKASHA
                    butterfly Apr 16, 2009 04:16 PM

                    Gallina en pepitoria is a classic Madrid dish worth seeking out.

                    1. re: MOREKASHA
                      Reignking May 4, 2009 01:51 PM

                      I was thinking the same thing -- the only chicken I ever had was when I bought and cooked it.

                    2. re: espalter
                      baltguy Apr 22, 2009 07:13 PM

                      I've gotten food poisoning in Madrid Repeatedly , until I figured out where it was coming from. It was being delivered to me by those vinegared anchovies call "bocarones" one is often served as a tapa. Since I stopped eating them I never again had a problem. Of course, one must exercise the same care in Spain as anywhere.

                    3. b
                      baltguy Apr 22, 2009 07:02 PM

                      Why would anyone eat chicken in Madrid? Except at CasaMingo, as suggested by another poster. Roasted, delicious, not expensive, best eaten with sidra (hard cider) to wash it down, from the hundreds of bottles that line the walls.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: baltguy
                        butterfly Apr 23, 2009 09:32 AM

                        I have to say, I don't find Casa Mingo to be anything special, at all. I would only go if I was heading across the street to check out San Antonio de la Florida or if I had to eat with a large group at a weird time (they are open continuously). There are lots of sidrerias in Madrid--all of which have a better, more Asturiano menu. And you can get good roast chicken all over the place (it's a menu del dia classic--always cheap) . The best roast chicken that I've had here is at the Moroccan joints in Lavapies over couscous.

                        1. re: butterfly
                          baltguy Apr 28, 2009 07:30 AM

                          I'd be interested in the names of those Madrid sidrerias. Which would you recommend?

                      2. kathinmadrid Apr 26, 2009 09:11 AM

                        I have to agree with everyone else who has answered here; chicken is NOT ever served rare in Spain. And also that for whatever reason, chicken is more flavorful here. The place at which you were served the undercooked food is a place which gets mixed reviews; very trendy and glamorous, overpriced, the food generally good but servings too small and some say with inadequate service. The waiter may have been trying to avoid a trip back to the kitchen to get the dish corrected.

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