Smoked Chicken Breasts in Ham and Chicken Handling Safety

Published: 28th November 2006
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4 ea Large chicken breasts

1/4 ts Chili powder

Skinned and boned

1/4 c Flour

1/2 ts Garlic salt

2/3 c White wine

1/2 ts Paprika

1/2 lb Thin sliced baked ham

Cut chicken breasts into strips about 1" wide. Place in smoker and smoke for approximately 1 hour. Dredge in a the mixture of garlic salt, paprika, chili powder and flour. Brown strips in 3 tbs of butter. Add white wine, cover, and simmer for approximately 20 minutes until tender. Cool. Wrap each piece of chicken breast in strips of thinly sliced baked ham. Skewer with cocktail picks. Wrap and carry in a cooler to the picnic.

Chicken Breast Handling, Safety & Storage

When working with chicken breasts it is essential that proper handling and storage is used to ensure safety. You cannot see the harmful bacteria on the chicken breasts so you must handle it as if it is present. Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause foodborne illness and is sometimes found on chicken. Follow the guidelines below to ensure safety against foodborne illnesses when handling chicken breasts.

Chicken Breast Contamination Prevention

Cleanliness: A clean working environment is essential in the prevention of contamination when working with chicken breasts.

Be sure to wash hands thoroughly before and after handling raw chicken breasts. The work area, cutting boards, and utensils must be thoroughly cleaned with hot soapy water after being exposed and should not be used for other foods until properly cleaned. This will prevent cross contamination of bacteria from the chicken breasts to other foods.

When working with other foods at the same time as preparing and cooking chicken breasts, be sure to use different utensils for each food. Do not use the same cutting board to carve cooked chicken breasts as was used for the raw meat, unless it has been properly washed and dried before using. Cutting boards should be thoroughly scrubbed with hot soapy water after each use and periodically cleaned with a bleach solution consisting of 1 tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water.

Handling: Raw chicken breasts should be purchased just before checking out at the store so it is exposed to unsafe temperatures for as short a time as possible. It should be placed in a plastic bag to prevent any leakage from contaminating any other foods. After purchasing it should be taken home and refrigerated as soon as possible. In warm weather, be sure your vehicle is air-conditioned or bring a cooler along to store the chicken breasts in while traveling home.

When cooking and serving chicken breasts, the meat must be handled properly to prevent contamination. Use a different platter and cooking utensils for cooked meat than what was used for the raw meat, unless they have been properly cleaned and dried after exposure to the raw chicken breasts. Be sure the raw meat does not come in contact with foods that have already been cooked or foods that do not require cooking before being consumed, such as raw vegetables and fruit.

If taking cooked chicken breasts to be served at another location, be sure to pack the chicken breasts so it maintains the proper temperatures. If you are keeping it hot, it should maintain at least a 140°F temperature and if it is cold, it must be kept at or below 40°F.

Chicken Breast Cooking Safety

Be sure chicken breast is cooked completely to eliminate the chance of foodborne illness. Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer in several locations to ensure doneness. Internal temperature should be a minimum of 170°F when checked in chicken breast area. If a meat thermometer is not available, check for doneness by piercing the chicken breast with a fork and be sure the juices run clear.

If cooking a chicken breast that has been stuffed, be sure to check the stuffing for doneness. It should reach an internal temperature of 165°F. Do not stuff until just before cooking and remove immediately once it is done. It is recommended that stuffing be cooked outside the chicken breast in a separate dish to reduce the risk of bacteria growth.

Do not partially cook chicken breasts and then store to complete cooking at a later time. The chicken breast should be cooked completely.

Proper Storage of Chicken Breasts

Chicken breasts should be stored at a temperature outside of the temperature zone in which bacteria, that causes foodborne illness, grows quickly. The danger temperature zone is a range between 40°F and 140°F. Raw chicken breasts can be stored in a refrigerator for several days. If it is not going to be used within the recommended time, it should be frozen to prevent it from perishing. Leftover cooked chicken breasts should be wrapped tightly and refrigerated as soon as possible.

Do not leave the chicken breasts at room temperature for more than two hours. If cooked chicken breasts are not going to be used within four days of cooking, it should be frozen.

Refrigerating Chicken Breasts

Raw or cooked chicken breasts can be stored safely in a refrigerator at 40°F or lower for several days. The amount of time that it can be refrigerated will depend on the freshness of the meat when purchased, the temperatures it is exposed to in transporting from the store to home refrigeration and the type of packaging used.

If the raw juices are leaking from the original package, it should be removed and the chicken breasts placed in a bowl and covered with wax paper, foil or rewrapped tightly in plastic before placing in the refrigerator. The package should be placed on a dish with sides to prevent any meat juices from dripping on other foods. It should be kept away from other foods so they do not come in contact with the raw juices. The meat should be stored in the coldest section of the refrigerator.

Chicken breasts can be stored safely for 2 or 3 days in the refrigerator at 40°F or less. Chicken giblets and ground poultry should only be stored in the refrigerator for 1 day. If you are storing for a longer period of time, the chicken breasts should be frozen. Remove chicken breasts from the refrigerator just before you are ready to cook it.

Chicken leftovers should be cooled and refrigerated as soon as possible, limiting the amount of time it is exposed to room temperatures. Never leave the chicken breast at room temperature for more than two hours. Cooked chicken breasts can be stored for up to three or four days in a refrigerator at 40°F or less. If leftovers are not going to be used within this time, they can be frozen and stored for up to three or four months. Leftover stuffing should be removed from the chicken as soon as possible to minimize the possibility of bacterial growth and then stored in a covered container in the refrigerator. The stuffing can be stored for up to three days, but if it is not going to be used within that time it should be frozen. Stuffing can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Freezing Chicken Breasts

Fresh chicken breasts should be stored in the refrigerator at 40°F or lower. It should be used within two days of the date on the package and if it is not going to be used within that time, it should be frozen. Freezing should be avoided if possible because it causes the chicken breasts to be less tender and juicy but if it will not be used within that time, it should be frozen to prevent it from perishing.

When freezing, be sure the chicken breast is as fresh as possible. Remove it from the package it came in and rewrap tightly, using plastic wrap, foil or freezer paper. If you are storing for more than two months, double wrapping is suggested. Be sure the wrap is pulled tightly against the entire surface of the chicken breast to prevent ice crystals from forming in areas that are not wrapped tight. Ice crystals form in these areas because moisture has been drawn out of the meat, causing the chicken breast to become tough in these areas. This condition is known as "freezer burn." Mark the wrapped package with contents and the date so you can be certain of how long it has been stored in the freezer.

The chicken breasts should be frozen as quickly as possible. The quicker it freezes the better it will be when thawed. To speed up the freezing process, place the package on the floor or against the wall of the freezer since these are the coldest parts. It is always best to freeze and store frozen food in a freezer unit, rather than a refrigerator freezer. The freezer units will maintain a temperature of 0°F or below, which will allow food to be stored for longer periods of time. A refrigerator freezer will generally only maintain a temperature of 10°F to 25°F and is opened more often, which causes fluctuation in temperature. If meat is stored in a refrigerator freezer, it should be used within two or three months. Whole chicken stored in a freezer unit can be stored safely for up to a year, and chicken pieces can be stored up to nine months.

Freezing Tips for Chicken Breasts:

* Use moisture proof wrap or bags when freezing chicken breasts. Wax paper is not moisture proof and should not be used because it would not hold the moisture in the meat.

* Be sure all packages are marked with the content and the date it was frozen.

* Wrapping individual chicken breasts in foil or with freezer wrap and then placing in a freezer bag will allow you to take out only the number of pieces you will need.

* Freeze fresh chicken breasts as soon as possible to maintain the best quality.

* Store frozen chicken breasts in a freezer unit to obtain maximum storage time.

* Thaw frozen chicken breasts using one of three methods: in the refrigerator; in cold water, changing every 30 minutes; or in the microwave. NEVER thaw chicken breasts at room temperature.

About the Author:

Lina Swanson is an amateur chef who recommends the CopyCat Cookbook for great top secret recipes. Visit today because the secrets might be gone tomorrow.

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