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Sep 2, 2012 08:32 AM

Roasting Chicken--The Pink & The VW-done

So there I was last night, following Tom Keller's roast chicken recipe... The brined bird was seared on the cooktop and then cooped at 475F for 45 minutes in a wood-fired oven. I pull the skillet from the oven *exactly* when instructed (the internal temp at the thigh being 155F--so will rise to 165F after resting). It rests...

I ask Wahine what piece she wants, and the answer is "Thigh". As I carve it, the jus runs (a good sign, I think), and near the bone there's the slightest hint of pink...

UNACCEPTABLE, Wahine says. BACK IN THE OVEN. A discussion ensues, ending with Wahine claiming to know more about chicken than Tom Keller, and me claiming to have learned my lesson--to cook the sh$t out of any chicken I prepare for her.

Anyone else have this issue? Is it normal/safe (as I believe) to have this hint of pinkness at the bone?
Does anyone else have the squick factor/squeamishness over this that Wahine does? More importantly, how do you cook the bird so that the thighs are done (a/k/a have the sh$t cooked out of them) without also overcooking the rest of the bird?


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  1. I roast the bird breast side down. That keeps the breast juicy, and the thighs done perfectly. I agree with Wahine about the ick factor on underdone chicken. Plus the flavor of the thighs is so much richer when they are falling off the bone. And the crispy back skin! Delicious!

    1 Reply
    1. re: jmcarthur8

      I have the same ick factor going with pink at the bone.

      I'm going to try your method next time I roast a whole chicken, great idea.

    2. Put me in the camp with Wahine. Both in liking my chicken well done and not caring whether Keller likes it or not.

      I suppose the easiest way to is to cut the bird into pieces so that you can cook the thighs longer. I also think spatchcocking is preferable to roasting it in the "round" as far as even cooking goes.

      1. I remember two recent discussions about this (and agree about the squick factor, though these threads have helped somewhat:

        1. I don't like to use color as an indication of doneness in chicken ESPECIALLY when cooking with wood or charcoal.
          The woodsmoke very often creates a smoke ring which many people do not know about. You usually hear about it with brisket

          Now, you serve this to a rare-averse person, they'll complain no matter how much explanation you do (and I did plenty of explaining in the restaurant business).
          "LOOK the meat is WELL DONE on the inside. How can it be rare on the OUTSIDE"
          "I don't know, but I don't eat rare meat."
          etc etc

          Same (to some extent) with fowl. I served charcoal fired rotisserie chicken for years. The "dark" meat tends to pick up pink coloration (due to smoke ring effect) more than the breast and I had various people complain (for years - "my chicken is pink, I don't want it").
          Some accept the explanation, others know chicken better than me and refuse to hear anything (hey, just like Wahine!).
          I'd explain, "Our chicken is brined and cooked in a charcoal oven. The wood smoke creates a pinkish smoke ring which turns some of the meat pinkish. Raw chicken is opaque, kinda like raw fish, you know? Its not like beef which starts out raw and red, then changes to gray when cooked. Chicken, like fish, changes *texture* when cooked. Look, the pinkish meat is not "raw" and gooey like uncooked chicken or fish: its firm. Plus our birds are cooked to 165, ensuring its cooked..."
          "Yeah, well its not cooked" they'd say

          The leg bone can be especially problematic. Commercial chickens are slaughtered quite young, before their bone structure is fully mature or hardened. This allows marrow pigment to leach out in the cooking process. It begins as a salmon color, but turns blackish the more well-done the chicken is.

          So is the cause of your pain due to smoke ring or young bones? I don't know for sure, but a more pressing question might be:

          Is Wahine the wife, or the daughter?

          If the daughter, I'd suggest cooking the chicken the way you want and enjoy the ways of Thomas Keller.
          If its the wife, I'd suggest cooking the shit outta the bird and eat dry breast - a small price to pay for harmony, no?

          1. I think it is common for the area near the bones to be pink, especially in younger birds. Provided you get the internal temp high enough, it's safe.

            Lately I have been roasting chicken "under a brick" which gives a uniform level of doneness. The results are a little different than a usual roast chicken. Both are good. I imagine it would be fantastic in a wood oven.