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I just watched Heston Blumenthal - Perfect Roast Chicken where he does a few thing unconventionally.

He roasts the chicken at approximately 200 F and stops the roasting process when the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast reaches 140 F.

Has anyone tried this method? I don't think I have seen chicken roasted at such a low temperature. For a 5-6 lbs chicken, the cooking time might even reach 4 hours in the "danger-zone"

I am also curious if anyone verified his metric of ending the roasting process at internal temperature of 140 F. I am not sure juices run clear at that temperature.

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This certainly sounds unpleasant; i think many people would consider chicken cooked only to 140 F (or even 145 F with some carryover) to be badly underdone tastewise, even if it is safe. –  SAJ14SAJ Jan 12 at 4:16
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1 Answer

The USDA FSIS puts out Time-Temperature Tables for Cooking Ready-To-Eat Poultry Products (PDF). They recommend holding the fattest parts of a chicken at 140°F/60°C for 35 minutes to ensure safety.

The time is increased greatly as you lower the temperature only a little (for example, it becomes 53 minutes 138°F, a mere 2°F lower). If you raise the temperature a little, it's much shorter (23.5 minutes at 142°F). As he says in the video, the food safety agencies recommend a higher temperature—the normal recommendation is 165°F.

The 165°F is to allow a safety margin, in case:

  1. Your thermometer is off. As you can see, a few degrees make a lot of difference.
  2. The spot you probed wasn't actually the coolest part of the bird.

The recommended times in the tables are for the worst-contaminated bird the USDA believes you could run into, which is probably far worse than the bird you're actually preparing.

As to the juices, its doubtful they run clear at 140°F. But the color of the juices is not a reliable way to determine if chicken is safely cooked.

It's up to you (and the people you're feeding) how much safety margin you're willing to remove. But note that if you use an accurate & calibrated thermometer, probed in several spots to find the coolest, and take the bird to 151°F, then leave the thermometer in as it rests, as long as it stays ≥150 for 4.2 minutes (≥149 for 5.4 minutes, or…), FSIS says its safe. That's still going to leave you pretty juicy chicken, though not quite as much as at 140°F.

Beware, it will not have the texture you expect!

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His argument is that at high temperatures, the proteins in the bird contract violently, squeezing out all the juices and moisture, resulting in a dry chicken. So he cooks it at a very low temperature. –  l3win Jan 12 at 18:12
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There is no violence in protein "contraction" at the molecular level. Either a protein molecule has undergone the transformation or it has not. It needs a certain level of energy to do so, and this is fairly temperature dependent; each type of protein in the meat will denature at a specific temperature (more accurately, starting in a narrow band). So it is the highest achieved temperature that governs how dry the meat seems, not how fast it got there. The intent of this method is to limit the final temp. This is a valid general technique, but i think his choice of final temp is too low. –  SAJ14SAJ Jan 12 at 19:42
    
So I cooked a chicken yesterday evening. Before putting the chicken into a preheated 350 F oven, I stuck a digital thermometer in the thickest part of the breast. I set the alarm to go off when the temperature reached 160 F. I rested the meat for approximately 40 minutes with the probe in and the temperature reached 168 F. Thinking of taking it to 150 F next time. The internal temperature increases 5-10 F anyway when it rests. Just curious, what kind of metrics do you use, temperature wise, when you cook a chicken for the best result? –  l3win Jan 13 at 18:38
    
I'm also thinking of lowering the temperature of the oven, to 325 F or even 300 to, hopefully, increase the juiciness and moisture in the meat. –  l3win Jan 13 at 18:49
    
@l3win The higher your oven temperature, the greater the "carryover" cooking is going to be (that's actually the temperature in the bird evening out; the outside is much hotter than the middle). I don't have a perfect method for doing a whole bird, need to experiment more. The 150-ish in my final paragraph is where I'd pull when trying this method (and I plan to try it out sometime soon). I'd go with 300°F. Food safety wise, as long as you get it above 130°F within an hour or so, you're fine. –  derobert Jan 13 at 20:51
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