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cooked chicken left out

I feel like a moron having to ask this but here goes:

I roasted two whole chickens yesterday with the intent of carving and freezing in portions for school/work lunch. Usually with roasting a chicken, I cook around 250 until it hits 140 Fahrenheit, and juices are clear then wrap it up in foil to rest anywhere from 30mins to an hour before carving.

I had plans to go out yesterday, and when I took the chickens out realized I was out of foil and didn't have time to wait for them to cool down enough to go in the fridge, so decided to just put them on the counter and put a big bowl over each.

6 hours later, I come home and carve the chickens only to discover that there was still a lot of blood inside, esp. the thigh and drumstick meat.
I carved them up and put the meat in the fridge, thinking maybe I can just sort of 'reroast' the meat, but I'm not sure if this is safe. I know roasting the meat again will make it dry as hell, but I'd rather not throw it out if i don't have to.

So, give me your opinions chowhounders: can I get away with this eating dried out meat and learning a humbling lesson, or do I avoid poisoning my fiancee and myself and learn an even more humbling lesson by chucking two whole chickens? go!

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  1. Ideal conditions for bacteria to multiply. Throw the chicken out. Years ago, my brother made a lot of people very ill by "re-cooking" underdone chicken.

    1. It's dead meat - toss it. Six hours on the counter gave the bacteria an open buffet and motel. Don't go there.

      1. Are you sure it was blood? It's common these days for red liquid to leak around joints and bones in fully cooked chicken.

        If it's actually blood, no I would not eat.

        If it's not, yes I'd eat it but I'm admittedly pretty lax with food safety rules. I've left fully cooked chicken out all night and it's fine. At holidays, the turkey sits out for 6 hours or more and is fine.

        12 Replies
        1. re: fldhkybnva

          How is the OP supposed to tell "if it's actually blood?"

          1. re: pikawicca

            He/she cooked it. I can tell blood from the other red liquid that comes out of cooked chicken. Unless this was the first chicken ever, I'd hope it'd be easy to figure out.

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              IT sat out on a counter for 6 hours even if the red is not blood it should not be consumed.

              1. re: Ruthie789

                OK, in your house, not in mine. Like I said above my family has had countless holiday meals where the food sits out for longer than that and people continue to eat it. But as with all of these inquiries, it's a personal judgment call. I wouldn't serve it to anyone, but I'd eat it myself if I knew it had been cooked to temperature.

                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  fldhkybnva, please see my post below regarding food poisoning.

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    With all due respect, I do not think it is a personal call. Food that is not held at proper temperatures can cause an array of problems, and it is not always evident that an upset stomach and the "like" may have its origins from improper food handling. If an elderly person or a young child or a fragile person gets sick from food poisoning the consequences can be quite serious.

                    1. re: Ruthie789

                      Like I said, I'd eat it. I wouldn't feed it to anyone. I'm not a young child or a fragile person.

                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                        Neither was I the three times I had terrible food poisoning. Neither was my husband last fall when it landed him in the hospital - the words "life threatening" were used by his doctor.

                        1. re: sandylc

                          As this thread has shown, each individual has a very different tolerance for how far they push "food past its prime". I eat stuff in the fridge that my wife won't go near. Hasn't had much, if any, negative effect on me thus far. And, as has been discussed in lots of different threads, food spoilage is a very complicated algorithm - in this case, how fresh was the chicken, what was its source, what was the final internal temp and how long was it held there, what kind of bacteria are floating around the OPs kitchen, how clean was the counter and bowl, and, if the OP had chosen to keep the chickens, how they treated it (take the meat off the carcass?) and where in the fridge they put it (top shelf front, where its warmest, or bottom back where its coldest.

                          Some folks don't want to take risks, and that's fine. Others do, and that's fine too. And when someone asks, there will be a wide diversity of opinions based on people's experiences. It's ultimately up to each individual to choose what they are comfortable with.

                          1. re: foreverhungry

                            Exactly, thank you. It's a personal decision...

                          2. re: sandylc

                            Yes, but those were the words used by "Ruthie789." I've had food poisoning, it was damn near awful and I couldn't eat really for 3 weeks. I'd still eat the chicken.

                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                              Sometimes threads can banter back and forth and parties fail to agree and that's fine. I would just encourage the op to be an informed cook.

            2. It's unlikely to be blood, there's been lots of threads here and elsewhere on what the red is in a cooked chicken, when fully cooked.

              Personally, I'm less concerned about how a chicken is handled in the few hours after cooking than I am how it's handled in the few days in the fridge.

              I've often left chickens, whole or pieces, on the counter for a few hours after cooking. I then handle those carefully - ziplocked with air sucked out, bottom shelf back where it's coldest, and use it soon.

              IMO, no reason to throw it out, that's a waste. Treat them well, and they will feed you well and safely. This is like people throwing out milk a day after the "expiration" date.

                1. Chicken held for 6 hours should not be consumed, food poisoning is about the worst thing that has ever happened to me, it is a horrible experience. Throw it out.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: Ruthie789


                    I have had three major experiences with terrible food poisoning myself, and my husband was so sick with it last fall that he tore his esophagus while vomiting and almost bled out.

                    I give these details not to gross people out, but to remind those who have been lucky thus far that food poisoning is not something to mess with.

                    Anyone eating that chicken is playing Russian roulette.

                    1. re: sandylc

                      What did you hubby eat that caused that, out of curiosity? Were you able to pinpoint it?

                      Glad he is okay btw. We don't often think of food poisoning as deadly, but every now and then it happens.

                      My mother has had food poisoning from chicken at restaurants twice in the last 10 years, both of which landed her in the hospital for several days. The last one caused her to lose 25 pounds in under a week. They are epically horrible stories when told in detail.

                      1. re: nothingswrong

                        It was under-cooked crabcakes at a very good restaurant that we had been eating at for almost 30 years. We both had them, and I also got sick, but not as bad - research later revealed that the copious amounts of iced tea that I drank at that meal may have helped - I guess tea offers some protection from bad buggies.

                        The restaurant was great about it - lots of apology, no defensiveness, and a large gift certificate. Class all of the way. I don't see how you can run a restaurant for that long and not have a few incidents, so we did understand. But when those crabcakes seemed underdone inside we should have sent them back.

                        1. re: sandylc

                          That's interesting! I've never been aware that undercooked crab cakes can cause anything other than the crab cake to fall apart. Isn't the crab used in crab cakes usually cooked? The rest is usually mayo, bread crumbs, spices, and maybe some onion and pepper? I'm not arguing, just that I've never considered an undercooked crab cake to be a real issue, other than it being cold maybe, or loose. Or am I missing something?

                          1. re: foreverhungry

                            With the quality of this restaurant, I assume they used fresh crab, thus it was likely uncooked. Best I can guess.

                            1. re: sandylc

                              Interesting. I didn't know anyone made crab cakes with uncooked crab meat. How would one get the crab meat out of a crab without cooking it first?

                              1. re: foreverhungry

                                I imagine it was cooked fresh crab. It could have been the mayo. I don't think I've ever seen raw crab meat which was not in a shell.

                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                  You guys know more than me, I'm guessing! The crabcakes were the only thing we both ate that day, and we were both struck by how mushy the middles were inside.

                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                    getting OT but I've cleaned raw crab, it was a pain and never again. I learned there is a reason it's cooked first...

                            2. re: sandylc

                              That's awful. I didn't know undercooked crab cakes would cause such bad illness either.

                              I can see why you wouldn't be so upset after having frequented the restaurant for so long, and I agree it's nice of them to give the apologies and gift card.

                              I also think it's good that you reported the incident to them. I'll bet most kitchens don't hear about things like this, but it should be brought to their attention in case they need to step it up in terms of food safety (and, if it happens to enough people, maybe the restaurant needs to be reported).

                      2. Two whole hot chickens (steaming away) under bowls for 6 hours at room temp and obvious blood(to you) in the thighs and legs? Throw it out please.

                        But you'll probably wait around on this thread hoping more people will chime in telling you it's ok to eat it.

                        I wouldn't take any chances if I were you.

                        1. I've worked in public health, including food safety, for over 30 years. The comment below that you should be more concerned about pre-cooking than post-cooking handling is off the mark. Both can be a problem. The scenario you described is a perfect setup for bacterial growth in the chicken no matter what the red stuff is. The fact that you cook only to 140 degrees, instead of a higher temp like the recommended 165, increases the possibility of a problem.

                          It's funny how people think about risk. Of course you may be fine, but it's like crossing the street without looking very carefully. You'll get away with it sometimes but that doesn't make it smart -- especially since it's other people's wellbeing involved in this case, not just your own. Or like seatbelts for your kids -- most of the time you don't get into an accident. But someone who thinks they're not a good idea over the course of a driving career just isn't thinking. Same with this.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: bkling

                            I wanted to bring that up but decided against it because this board is so divided on how to roast a darn chicken it borders on the ridiculous at times.

                            Just old fashioned 325* to 165* at our house.

                            1. re: miss_belle

                              Yeah, I avoided the 140 thing initially, also. I did read years ago that 140 for three minutes will do it, but it scares me a bit and the blood-type-stuff plus sitting out for so long sounds like a recipe for misery.

                              1. re: sandylc

                                on another board somebody pasted some pubmed study about cooking temps and chicken. it all has to do with the range between 100% eradication, acceptable levels, and eh, kinda dangerous.

                                the op's birds sound like a perfect storm for making one's self sick.

                          2. Cooking a whole chicken to only 140°F internal temp is an invitation to disaster.

                            Chicken is cheap. Your health, should you get food poisoning, is not. Why would you even want to take a chance? Throw them both out.

                            Next time, carve the chickens before leaving the house.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              this had me scratching my head too.

                              cooking only to 140, then wrapping in foil isn't going to "finish" cooking the meat.

                              am pretty lax about my "magic kitchen" and i have left out fully cooked meat, but not birds that are only par-cooked.

                              chuck it and consider it a lesson.

                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                I'd just eat the outside part if there's any question.

                                1. re: rudeboy

                                  Tread lightly..the bacteria can form anywhere on that baby.

                            2. sorry but only 1 choice in my opinion-chuck it

                                1. re: nothingswrong

                                  Wasn't your condition caused by food poisoning?

                                  1. re: weezieduzzit

                                    Yes. From chicken. Bought at a chicken restaurant which held cooked roasted chickens in chafing dishes. Nice and "fresh."

                                    10 years later and I'm fed through a tube. I'll leave it at that, just a huge f*cking face palm.

                                    1. re: nothingswrong

                                      Don't know how you are with liquids, but this might be of interest.

                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                        I'm the same with liquids so I'd rather eat the solids. But that is an interesting link.

                                        The IV formula I get has 4x the calories, protein, and nutrition than that stuff, and bonus is I don't have to taste it :) Downside is it makes me feel nauseous, full, extremely tired, and it takes 14 hours to infuse each day.

                                        I wonder what that Soylent tastes like. I can only imagine.

                                        1. re: nothingswrong

                                          In an article I read last week, a skeptical taster said, "not bad."

                                          14 Hours???

                                          Hope a cure for what ails you is found soon!

                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                            "not bad."

                                            Lol! Glad to hear it.

                                            And thank you for your kind wishes.

                                          2. re: nothingswrong

                                            In the New Yorker article, tasters described it as "like Cream of Wheat", "watered-down pancake batter", and "my grandfather's Metamucil".

                                            No thanks. I wouldn't consume any of those things.

                                            1. re: mcsheridan

                                              It's funny, there's something about both the IV and intestinal feeding tube mixes that smells of those things to me. I'm not sure what it is, but I guess all the "chemicals" (??) they use to make up the basic nutrients have that smell.

                                              I describe it as "something like pungent breast milk." Not that I've tasted it in many decades, but I've sniffed it when heating up pumped milk and that seems about right.

                                              It appears some of those people are drinking that stuff because they don't like the hassle of eating. So no, I don't think ANYONE on this site would rather drink watered-down pancake batter than enjoy a steak with mashed potatoes and grilled veggies.

                                              1. re: nothingswrong

                                                "I wonder what that Soylent tastes like. I can only imagine."

                                                Any time I see that word, all I can think of is the movie "Soylent Green" from the early 1970s with Charlton Heston.

                                      2. next time: you are allowed to put them still warm in the fridge uncovered until you get some foil or whatever. it'll make the condenser go into overtime and warm adjacent items for a bit, but no harm.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: hill food

                                          No -- still warm and uncovered in the fridge will cause condensation to form on the underside of shelf above and drip onto the food. If necessary to put still-warm food in the fridge, always cover. Learned this as part of ServSafe certification.

                                          1. re: Niblet

                                            "If necessary to put still-warm food in the fridge, always cover."

                                            Is this true, really? I've always read that leaving it uncovered will help it cool faster. Not arguing with you, but just curious as it contradicts everything I've heard.

                                            I don't ever put anything hot in large quantities into the fridge. I always use an ice bath when possible, or (since I'm usually just cooking for one or two) lay the warm item in a little bed of ice packs until it's cool. For something like a chicken breast, it'll only take a few minutes.

                                            But common sense would tell me that if I had a huge casserole or pot of soup and just stuck it, covered, in the fridge, the outside "layer" would cool far quicker than the center. And the pot would reach the danger zone temp and stay there for quite some time. Especially if covered.

                                            ETA: For something like soup, I think it's best to portion into smaller, flatter containers, as more surface area seems to cool quicker.

                                            1. re: Niblet

                                              "will cause condensation to form on the underside of shelf above and drip onto the food"

                                              may make it taste a bit funky, but as long as the fridge is clean and it's not getting into anything else I don't see the harm, sure beats sitting on a counter.

                                              1. re: hill food

                                                Optimal practice is obviously to let it cool down before refrigerating, I can't imagine allowing zero time for this, to be honest. I added this info not to be controversial, but to alert to a safety risk that's commonly addressed as part of ServSafe training. It's hard for me to fathom the logic of chancing funky taste.

                                                1. re: Niblet

                                                  yes, better safe than sorry is a good motto.

                                                2. re: hill food

                                                  A sheet of foil or parchment lightly draped over the hot item would allow heat to escape and keep out condensation.

                                            2. I imagine you've already made your decision as to what to do so you're either hugging the toilet because you ate it and got sick or you ate it and got extremely lucky because you didn't get sick or you're lamenting the waste of the chickens in the garbage.

                                              There are food safety rules that are always good to follow. Your chicken was in the what is referred to as the danger zone...roughly 140 to 40 degrees. You have 6 hours to cool food in 2 stages. Stage 1 dictates that the food must be brought down from 140 degrees to 70 degrees within 2 hours. Stage 2 dictates that the food must then be brought from 70 to below 41 degrees in another 4 hours. Ignoring either of the 2 stages can make you extremely ill or worse.

                                              Always remember, you can kill bacteria with heat but you cannot kill or remove the toxins left behind by improper cooling.

                                              1. Toss. And don't invite me to dinner :)

                                                1. I would cook it fully and eat it, but apparently I'm crazy.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. erred on the side of caution and chucked it.

                                                    For the person who just wrote 'facepalm', thanks for the help, I'm sure your strategy of 'screw it, I'll just guess' when you're unsure about something works out really well in cooking and life.

                                                    Everybody else, thanks a bunch for the opinions :)

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: WinthropBasil

                                                      WinthropBasil, you might want to check a few posts above your thread. nothingswrong has noted that she now "eats" through a tube due to food poisoning from chicken.

                                                      I believe her "facepalm" was meant as a "is there really any question as to what to do with two whole chickens that have sat out for 6 hours?"

                                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                                        No there is no question whatsoever.

                                                        They go in the garbage.

                                                      2. re: WinthropBasil

                                                        I'm glad you got rid of it.

                                                        I guess I don't equate "facepalm" with "I'll just guess" - ???

                                                        I read the "facepalm" to mean that the poster thought there was an ultra-obvious answer to your question.

                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                          Yes, that's exactly what I meant. There are so many threads about food safety, and then so many threads about the threads on food safety and using common sense.

                                                          I wasn't trying to get personal, but yes, being fed through a tube as a result of consuming improperly handled chicken from a restaurant when I was 21 leads me to always err on the side of caution. You literally could not pay me 10 million dollars to eat the chicken OP posted about. My stomach no longer works due to eating the meat I ate, which was supposedly handled well enough to be served to the general public. I was healthy when I ate it, and had a very mild case of illness afterward, but it's been all downhill from there.

                                                          in all seriousness, I wouldn't wish this condition on my worst enemy, and was really hoping to hear OP would toss the chicken out. It's just not worth spending the rest of your life as sick as people with this post-infectious condition are. Glad to hear you chucked it.

                                                        2. re: WinthropBasil


                                                          I too am happy you didn't decide to keep the chicken for the $10-!5 it probably cost you because your health and well being isn't worth it. I've done dumb things before regarding kitchen blunders (many of us have) but chicken is just something you can't mess with. it's too hard to get your health possibly ever back just ask nothingswrong.

                                                        3. Sounds like those chickens were DOA... I wouldn't want to eat them after they'd been stored in those conditions for that length of time, ESPECIALLY if they were rare. Not what you want to hear, but it just doesn't seem safe...