Can I safely roast a chicken for 4 to 5 hours on a low heat?

  • Hard pressed office worker and cook here. If I go home at lunchtime and put in a medium sized chicken to roast in the oven can I ensure it's ready to eat when the family get in in the evening?

    I've found a recipe instructing me to roast at 120C (250F) for 5 hours, uncovered. The recipe mentions ensuring it reaches 85C (185F) internally.

    Does that sound reasonable? Any other tips to ensure I don't risk a charred/undercooked bird?

    Do you have access to a crock-pot/slow cooker? Personally, I'd be more comfortable using one instead of the oven.

    @awitthrow @vecta @john what is a crockpot?

    A Crock Pot is a trademarked name for a slow cooker, essentially a ceramic or porcelain cooking pot inside of a metal heating element. They are generally recognized as safe to leave on during the day when you're not there.

    They're great for making meals when the last thing you want to do when you get home is cook. Throw everything in when you wake up, when you come home dinner is ready.

    Why risk it? The dangers of dying from underdone poultry are very much real. Why risk your life like that.

  • Vecta

    Vecta Correct answer

    10 years ago

    I would suggest not roasting a chicken at such a low heat for so long. Here is a response to a similar question on another cooking forum:

    A few days ago I printed out a recipe from peacefulnightdove "BEST Slow-Roasted Chicken". It sounded wonderful but was to be roasted at 250 F (126 C) degrees for 5 hours. That sounded like a low temperature to me, so I emailed the County Nutritionist and Health Agent where I lived. Here is her reply: Good for you JoAnn to be suspicious! That is definitely outside the USDA guidelines, and yes bacteria may well be growing for quite a while in there. Poultry especially should not be done at less than 325 degrees. You could use the same spices and onions, increase the temp to 325 and decrease the time. Figure about 20 min per pound for the time. The safest way is to use a meat thermometer, final temp in the thigh should be 180 degrees.

    I would also suggest using a crockpot.

    +1 for crockpot. It will not give you as good of a flavor but it's a safe way for office workers to get some variety and slow cooked meat when we wouldn't otherwise have the time.

    The USDA guidelines aren't really based on actual science and are overkill. According to this article (which does a thorough review of various pathogens and their growth rates), poultry would have to spend roughly **15 hours** in the range of 50F to 130F before you'd encounter a serious risk of toxin development, and even that could only happen under unusual conditions. I personally wouldn't go 15 hours, but the minimum 325F roasting temperature is nonsense.

    Just as @Athanasius says. Besides, as to "bacteria may well be growing for quite a while in there" [we are talking hours above boiling point here!]: umm, Mr. County Nutritionist and Health Agent, tell us one such bacteria that a) shares a continent (or planet?) with chicken, b) lives outside of sci-fi alien thrillers.

    This should not be the accepted answer. Some rando's answer on "a cooking forum" is clearly wrong. To be safe, anything needs only be cooked above the temperature bacteria can survive. Most bacteria can't survive above 140 degrees F. Pretty much no bacteria can survive above 160 degrees F. You might notice that even in the rando's quote, its mentioned that the internal temperature "should be 180 degrees". So If you set your oven to 180 degrees F and wait until the inside of the chicken gets to equilibrium with that, then you're good.

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