When Omaha’s long-awaited Chick-fil-A opened last October, the city went nuts. No longer did chicken sandwich fanatics have to drive an hour and a half away to get their Chick-fil-A fix!
Despite the hoopla, I’ve never been to the Omaha Chick-fil-A. In fact, I’ve only ever had a Chick-fil-A sandwich once a road trip, and while I’m sure it enjoyed it, I don’t remember it being worthy of its own out-of-state excursion. Even the 20 minute drive to our local Chick-fil-A seems a bit excessive for a fast food chicken sandwich.
However, I’m tempted to try The Effortless Chic’s homemade Chick-fil-A sandwich recipe, which calls for brining the chicken in dill pickle juice. Is that Chick-fil-A’s secret ingredient?!
As I was reading Jen’s recipe, the one thing that jumped out at me (besides the dill pick juice) was her instruction to wash each chicken breast before preparing them. Washing raw chicken is something either my mom or my grandmother (or both) taught me to do when I was learning how to cook. Was the point to clean the chicken or to rinse off any slimy coating? I’m not sure, but I can remember following their rules in my college apartment kitchen. I even used a paper towel to pat the wet chicken breast dry because it seemed like the obvious next step.
Sometime between college and the present day I stopped washing raw chicken. Most likely, I was simply too lazy to include the extra step in my dinner preparations. But it turns out that my laziness was actually a good thing: washing raw poultry makes it less safe, not more.
Jennifer Quinlan, a food researcher at Drexel University, has created a public health campaign to get Americans to break their chicken-washing habit. Amazingly, as many as 90% of people rinse their raw chicken before cooking. Rather than cleaning their birds, chicken-rinsers are actually spraying foodborne pathogens like salmonella all over their kitchens.
This animation illustrates how bacteria can travel up to 3 feet away from your sink:
The takeaway: If, like me, you’re planning to make a homemade Chick-fil-A sandwich, don’t wash your chicken. But do get yourself a meat thermometer! Cooking chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165-degrees Fahrenheit will kill unwanted bacteria.
Will you admit to being a chicken-rinser? How about to being a Chick-fil-A fanatic??