We have been getting an awful lot of interest in preparing whole chickens in our operators’ restaurants. One question that comes up more often than not is how to check the temperature of your bird.
Though all meat is technically an insulator for heat, complex shapes like whole chickens present a unique heating challenge. The large cavity in the center of your bird doesn’t lend itself to efficient heat exchange and that’s why you want to take several readings in a short amount of time.
Easy, Fast and Simple – Upgrading to Instant Readprobe Thermometers
Traditional bi-metal dial thermometers can take up to 30 seconds to give a reading and are easy to accidentally bump out of adjustment. Just think about all of the time and energy you would waste taking the temperature in multiple locations on a single bird. There’s also the fact that many health departments are encouraging foodservice establishments to upgrade to instant-readprobe thermometers. They’re simply easier, safer, and faster to use.
Places to Check for Accurate Temperature
Even though your chicken and recipes are unique, there are a few places you NEED to consistently check for temperature:
- The thickest part of the thigh,
- and the center of the stuffing (if stuffed).
All poultry should be cooked to a minimum of 165°F/74 °C to ensure that any harmful bacteria is killed and checking the three critical locations (thigh, breast and stuffed center) ensures your bird is up to temperature.
Additionally, make sure you’re not taking a reading off the bone, as this can skew your results. If you are collecting drippings for another dish or are simultaneously cooking other vegetables in the same pan as the chicken, those elements ALSO need to reach the same minimum temperatures as they have been cross-contaminated with poultry.
While heat transfer through the bird might be a complex science, taking the bird’s temperature doesn’t have to be. If you’re thinking about offering a whole chicken or if you’re trying to get the most flavor out of a bird, whole chickens are the way to go. Just make sure you’re checking your bird’s temperature at the breast and thigh, and if you’re using the trimmings or have stuffed your bird, those need to be cooked to poultry safe temperatures, too.