Can You Put Raw Chicken in a Rice Stew?

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When raw chicken simmers in a stew pot, it stays moist and gives savor to both the cooking broth and the rice. Convenient one-pot recipes calling for raw chicken to be added right into the stew pot with your vegetables are safe as long as you make sure to heat the chicken through to a safe temperature. Special precautions are required when preparing rice dishes made with raw chicken in a slow cooker.

Understanding Bacteria

As with all perishable food items, raw poultry can contain harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. These bacteria are all destroyed during cooking, but if your raw meat comes into contact with utensils, hands or other pre-cooked food, cross-contamination can occur. In other words, the bacteria from your raw chicken can spread infection before it’s put into the pot. To avoid this risk, give the raw meat its own cutting board and knife, and wash your hands and all utensils after handling your raw chicken.

Preparing Your Ingredients

Although some recipes might ask you to rinse and pat dry your chicken, the U.S. Department of Agriculture advises against rinsing raw chicken before preparing. Washing the meat doesn’t remove any of the bacteria, and the juices could more easily spread to your sink and other surfaces. Instead, wash your hands and keep your raw meat separate from other ingredients as you are preparing for your stew.

Cooking in the Pot

It is considered safe to put the raw chicken into the stew pot with other uncooked ingredients because all the bacteria are killed once the dish reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit. When simmering on the stove, chicken reaches safe internal temperatures after 30 minutes for boneless chicken, 40 minutes for bone-in breast cuts and 45 to 50 minutes for thighs, drumsticks and wing pieces. Water boils at 212 F, which means putting your stew on a slow simmer for 50 minutes or longer cooks your chicken to a safe internal temperature of 165 F.

Slow Cooker Issues

The danger with cooking raw chicken in a slow cooker has everything to do with temperature. Unlike a stovetop pot, slow cookers heat from the sides. To insure that your raw chicken is cooked to safe internal temperatures, set your cooking temperature to high – above 165 F – for the first 60 minutes of cooking and do not do anything that might cause the temperature to drop. For example, do not add frozen vegetables or lift the lid. The University of Florida Extension Services says it takes 20 minutes to recover the lost heat, which makes the dish a food safety risk and extends the required cooking time. Always cook your chicken and rice dish to save internal temperatures before storing.