Sorry. Anymeat, when you cook chicken, beef, pork, or any non-sushi grade fish, it is extremely important to get it to a very specific set of temperatures, internally, to effectively kill any bacteria that may be lurking beneath the surface. Particularly with chicken. Salmonella ain’t no joke.
All food needs to stay either below 40 degrees F or above 141 degrees F in order to be considered safe to eat. The vast expanse of temperatures between 40 and 141 are known as THE DANGER ZONE. If you leave food in the danger zone for more than 4 hours, you MUST throw it out. And this is perishable, raw food. Not like, potato chips. I’m talking raw meat, yogurt, etc. Reason being, bacteria grows more rapidly between these temperatures and you are more likely to get sick if your food has been out and festering in it for a while. So, don’t go grocery shopping, then run your other errands with the groceries in the car, sit in traffic, and go home and cook. Bad idea. And because it is now in my head, so shall it be in yours:
Thanks, Kenny Loggins. Back to the meat! Here are the temperatures that each particular protein needs to be cooked to in order to be considered safe to eat:
Chicken: 165 F
Ground Chicken or Turkey or Lamb: 165 F
Ground Beef or Pork: 160 F
Fresh Pork: 145 F
Fresh Beef, Lamb, or Veal: 145 F (Rare)
Fin Fish: 145 F – look for flakiness. The flesh should flake if you poke it with a fork. If it’s still gooey, back in the pan or oven.
So, my expert advice to you: invest in a thermometer. Doesn’t have to be fancy or hi-falutin’. Just a simple, easy to use meat thermometer will do. I prefer digital ones because I can’t be bothered to calibrate anything. My fave:
Small enough to fit in a drawer easily but big enough numbers to read easily. This is by OXO Good Grips. Another big perk to using a meat thermometer is that you don’t have to cut your meat or chicken open to see if it’s done, and therefore won’t lose essential and delicious juices by stabbing open the meat before it’s done. When you temp your meat, always test in the center of the thickest part of the meat, and if it’s a bone in cut, make sure you aren’t touching the bone as it will throw off the reading.
So, next time you are making a chicken breast, remember to cook it to 165. Or else.