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Why does my roast chicken always do this?

No matter what method I use to roast a chicken, it seems I always end up with some - sometimes a lot - of bright red juice in the cavity of what certainly seems like a fully done chicken.
Most recently, I cooked a 4.2 pound free-range chicken per Thomas Keller's Bouchon recipe on Epicurious (which tasted fabulous). I cooked the chicken for 80 minutes at 450. The breast had reached 160 and the thighs 180 (and when we ate the thing, it was most definitely done). Yet as I pulled the chicken out of the oven, here comes the red juice pouring out on to the potatoes I'd sliced and put under the roasting rack. It was disgusting. I put the chicken on a plate and roasted the potatoes another 10 minutes or so, which must have been enough to kill any remaining bacteria because none of us got sick. But I'm still confused. This chicken had been frozen, but it had thawed in the refrigerator for three days, and though after two days it was still somewhat frozen, I can't imagine it wasn't completely thawed when it went in the oven. Does anyone have any idea why this is happening and/or what I can do to prevent it?

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  1. not sure - are you rinsing the chicken (inside & out) and drying with paper towels, also inside & out? When I unwrap the chicken from its packaging, I always do it over the sink & drain out the juices, then rinse & pat dry. If this isn't the problem, I hope someone else has a solution for you!

    1 Reply
    1. re: elfcook

      The breast meat of the organic chickens I cook often has red spots, and as many other people have written, it's probably because the birds are young. By the way, I too have heard many safety experts say not to rinse chicken before cooking because doing so spreads bacteria around your sink.

    2. Try letting the chicken rest in the oven before pulling it out (shorten the cooking time if you have to).

      1. Chickens are harvested very young these days and the red in the meat's juice is because the bones of the bird were not fully mature. It's not you!

        5 Replies
        1. re: lil magill

          Yes. This is merely a cosmetic issue. It helps to let the chicken rest for a while, too.

          1. re: lil magill

            So are you saying if I leave it in the oven for, say, another 10 minutes with the heat off and/or door open, that stuff will reabsorb? I hope so, because I'm already rinsing it inside and drying it well. The only way I've been able to eliminate this red stuff is to cook the chicken to the point that the breast, at least, is waaaaay dry.

            1. re: redthong

              resting time is strictly out of the oven time. I tent with foil then lay a doubled terry kitchen towel over meat that's resting. Resting allows the meat to retain it's juices when carved. Ever see a beautiful piece of rare meat turn suddently grey when cut? It did not rest!! Sometimes resting time can be as much as 20 minutes for T'day turkey....

              1. re: lil magill

                take the chicken out of the oven and let is rest at room temperature. Ask yourself what would JC do....(Julie Child that is)...let it rest at room temp for 5-10 minutes before carving.

                1. re: lil magill

                  Doesn't the skin end up soggy when you cover it so thoroughly?

            2. You know, I get the free range/ non-factory farm chicken and haven't had this problem. I wonder what type of chicken you are using and if it matters? Maybe they're not as young? No judgment here- -just an issue I've never experienced.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Procrastibaker

                FWIW, this has happened to me with the chickens we get from our local farmers. (free-range, all that jazz)

              2. With the temps that you are measuring you need not worry.

                2 Replies
                1. re: chefj

                  Are you SURE that the bird is actually cooked on the inside? What is the temperature of the bird cavity, not the breast or the thighs? Chicken is cooked when the juices run clear, not necessarily when your DIRT says so. I'm sorry, but I agree with the OP. The red stuff is a deal killer and it is disgusting.

                  I'd be inclined to cover the breast with foil for the last part of the roasting and just leave it in the oven fifteen minutes more. Yeah, yeah -- I'm going to be accused of ruining the bird, but a bloody bird is a ruined dinner for me.

                  Don't feel bad. Chickens aren't really all that easy to cook. Most recipes were developed when you could still find pretty little three pound birds in the supermarket, not these breast-heavy overgrown "young" birds that weigh in at nearly five pounds. That is a 67% increase in mass, i.e, going from a three pound bird to a five pound bird, and you need to make some adjustments. Would you feel the same way if the T-Day turkey was running red juice? No way, right? You would just adjust by cooking the bird slower and longer, and you would tent the breast to prevent it from drying out.

                  You could try a vertical roaster. That seems to eliminate the problem completely.

                  1. re: RGC1982

                    The temp of the cavity will be roughly just under the same temp as the oven toward the end of cooking.

                    Personally, I don't worry about the red juice, and just cook the thigh to just under 160F. But I can see that if one wants the fat to drizzle down over potatoes, then they might get grossed out by what looks like bloody water. I wonder how those potatoes came out?