When the news broke about people not washing raw chicken surfaced, the idea of turning into a vegan resurfaced in my brain. For those that touch raw meat, you know damn and good well that it’s slimy and gross and some still have feathers present. Chicken, whether you pick it out at a butcher store or it’s neatly packaged at the grocery store, is not clean. The feathers are still present, blood still oozing out, and this slimy texture of raw meat, especially raw chicken is just eew. People can’t be not cleaning chicken. It’s just nasty. And what about the hair left on the skin? Do you just toss the whole thing in the over and will hope it burns off in the juice? The same juice used for gravy? Now you have slimy, hair juice gravy. I will not be looking for that recipe.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent out a tweet that sparked all this controversy about washing chicken. “We didn’t mean to get you all hot about not washing your chicken!” “But it’s true: kill germs by cooking chicken thoroughly, not washing it. You shouldn’t wash any poultry, meat, or eggs before cooking. They can spread germs around your kitchen. Don’t wing food safety!” I watch several cooking shows, sometimes for hours at a time. The chicken that is magically cooked in the time shown on television, is what we call at home “juicy chicken”. The chicken maybe at the suggested temperature of 165° F (74° C), but the color of the meat may not be done in the eyes of most that don’t eat pink meat.
The common misconception to why we should wash raw chicken is that we don’t clean our surface after we have used the same sink we wash dishes. That is unheard of. In my kitchen, kitchenette – because I live in a highly-priced New York apartment, I keep bleach available. Once my meat, whether it’s chicken, beef, fish or any other type of poultry, is cleaned, seasoned and placed in the oven or ready for the stove top cooking, I thoroughly clean the surface including the faucet area where we touch to turn on and off water. The handle of raw meat is very important because as studies show, you can risk the spread of bacteria in a common area. If you don’t cleanse properly, the bacteria can spread to other areas of your living space. So is the issue with raw meat or your capability to cleanse your kitchen properly?
Here are a few tips that I have for you, should you decide to keep washing your raw chicken:
Before handling raw chicken
Prepare your cooking area of needed items such as seasonings and utensils you will use for the raw chicken. Again, you may use gloves but most of us will not and do not use gloves at home to make a family meal.
Clean the surface area before handling raw chicken
Do you have a dish rack or other items close to the sink area? Make sure to put all dry utensils, cups, plates and such away and move the dish rack away from the sink area. If water does splash while you are washing raw chicken or other poultry, then it will land on a flat surface that is easier to clean than a dish rack, dishes and random other counter top items. Raw chicken should be taken out of the wrapper, placed in a clean sink or big bowl in the sink, immediately discard the wrapper, plastic and any other materials that were touching the raw chicken. If you want, you can even use gloves when touching the materials, discard the gloves and then you can touch other areas of your kitchen before returning to the raw chicken in the sink.
What to use to thoroughly clean raw chicken
I use what I have in my cabinet of seasonings, which is kosher salt. It’s a coarser salt that does not have any added tastings of iodine, fluoride or dextrose. This salt, because of its size, can be and is used as a surface cleaner. I utilize it in cooking, seasoning and cleaning of raw meat.
Another natural substance that can be used as a cleaner or a cooking ingredient but to the acetic acid that may include flavorings.
Lemon or lime.
Used for cooking, baking and cleaning. The juice of a lemon is 5 to 6% citric acid.
After sitting in a water bath of salt and/or vinegar, a scrub of lemon or lime on the raw chicken removes some of that slimy feeling that is on the skin. A final rinse and it’s ready to be transferred to a bowl or pan for seasoning.
Seasoning raw chicken
If you apply the Taylor Swift method to your food, then you probably use just a dash of salt and pepper and off to the cooking stage. For us Beyonce chefs, this is where all the seasonings in your arsenal comes out to play. Since you have touched the chicken after washing it, I would suggest before touching any of your bottles of seasoning, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. You can even use gloves as I mentioned before – but who does this unless you are on Top Chef and you have cut your finger with one of their good knives.
Whether you let your chicken sit a bit and let the seasonings marinate or you pop it in some flour and fry in some grease or put in the oven for a baked delight, you must remember that with the raw chicken done and out of the way, it’s time to clean again. You should be able to leave the kitchen space smelling cleaning products and not the raw chicken or seasoning smell.
With a bleach and water combo or bleach included cleaning spray, return to the sink area and clean the surface and surrounding areas thoroughly. For my kitchenette area, this does not include a lot of space but I do wipe down the wall next to the sink, the faucet, the backsplash area and any utensils used in preparing the chicken. This is a process I saw my mom and her mom do while growing up and I will continue and show my daughter to do going forward. Not cleaning meat, is just not going to happen in my household and should not in yours either. If you think salmonella is disgusting and scary, imagine giving your mother or an in-law a piece of chicken with hair on it because you didn’t wash and clean it before cooking it?