Chicken legs looked raw after cooking for soup

ginjjOctober 21, 2012

I "poached" 4 big chicken legs to put in soup. My instant thermometer read 160 degrees, which I read means done for poached chicken. I followed one instruction for poaching and left them in the broth until cool. I just looked at them, tearing them into pieces, and they are too pink for my liking.

I know dark meat often appears pink but this pink?

I'm also concerned about the fact I let the broth cool down on it's own, rather than putting in a sink of ice to speed up the process and then refrigerate sooner.

I decided to throw out both the broth and the chicken. I am disappointed to say the least.

Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

I love soup!!



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It's hard for me to say whether they were done or not, but I honestly probably wouldn't bother measuring temperature when I'm poaching chicken legs. I'd just make sure that the broth is simmering rather than boiling hard. The extra time helps break down the connective tissue so that the meat separates easily from the bone, and they don't come out dry. I also don't really worry about cooling down at room temp, unless it's a really enormous quantity, like several quarts of liquid. I would probably have just let the chicken finish cooking in the soup. But of course everyone's comfort level is different, and I am cooking just for me.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 9:11PM
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Young chickens....which is mostly what is in the stores these days look pink near the bone. If you cooked it to 160, it was problem....and cooling it in the broth was likely not the safest thing to do....but for a small amount and not a 5 gallon pot with 3 chickens I wouldn't worry.
I am afraid you threw away some perfectly good chicken and broth in your haste.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 10:02PM
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I agree, 160F is done, regardless of color. This is from the USDA, who are very conservative when it comes to recommendations on food safety:

"The color of cooked chicken is not a sign of its safety. Only by using a food thermometer can one accurately determine that chicken has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 ðF throughout. The pink color in safely cooked chicken may be due to the hemoglobin in tissues which can form a heat-stable color. Smoking or grilling may also cause this reaction, which occurs more in young birds."

As for letting the broth cool on its own, how long was it sitting out? If it sat for an inordinately long period of time, then I'd toss it. If it was a small amount that cooled quickly I wouldn't have worried so much about it.


    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 11:14PM
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Thanks for your feedback gals.

I think I'll be happier poaching breasts instead of dark meat.

The poaching method I followed called for leaving the poached chicken in the broth to cool down and retain more juices. It probably sat for an hour, although if I had put it in a wider bowl it would have been faster. I'll remember that for next time if I do it that way.


    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 11:56PM
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When I poach a whole chicken, I simmer it in a large stock pot for an hour and then turn the heat off and let it sit covered for another hour. It does not cool off very much in that hour, but it is always done all the way through.

Don't give up on dark meat - maybe switch to thighs, which are my favorite piece.


    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 3:55AM
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Sorry, Ginny. That is disappointing, yet I can empathize. I was absolutely "laid low" by food poisoning once, my epiphany as a food safety convert.

Here's an excerpt from one website (TheKitchn/Apartment Therapy) I useful linked below:

"But of those, only temperature is the real indicator of a fully-cooked chicken. The USDA says that as long as all parts of the chicken have reached a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees, it is safe to eat. Color does not indicate doneness.

The USDA further explains that even fully cooked poultry can sometimes show a pinkish tinge in the meat and juices. This is particularly true of young chickens whose bones and skin are still very permeable. Pigment in the bone marrow can color the surrounding tissue and make the bones themselves look very dark. Hemoglobin in the muscles can likewise react with air during cooking to give the meat a pinkish color even after cooking. The chicken's feed and whether it's been frozen can also affect the final color.

Even knowing this, it's startling to cut into a chicken and see pink. Reprogramming the automatic association between pink chicken and under-cooked chicken is going to take some work."

That last sentence is me.

Finally, the USDA FSIS also came up with this poster for those of us who remember pictures better than lists:):


Cathy in SWPA

Here is a link that might be useful: Pink Chicken

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 6:30AM
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Thanks to all of you I have a much clearer understanding of how to poach chicken. I like the idea of poaching since it is supposed to keep it more tender.

Cathy thanks for the links to the USDA; it certainly makes me feel better to understand what's going on.


    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 10:25AM
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