To lunch at a recently opened restaurant in Soho. It looks lovely, the staff are friendly and the menu reads particularly well. A simple chicken salad arrives at my table with strips of flabby poultry that are pink. Call me old fashioned, but I like my chicken as white as Richard Caring’s teeth and nothing less. But it’s becoming all too common these days. Numerous restaurants I go to are serving me pink chicken and I can’t get my head around it.
The head chef can probe the bird all they like and argue till they’re blue in the face that it’s cooked to the safe minimum temperature of 165 degrees farenheit. However, I find it truly hard to enjoy a meal when I’m wondering with every bite whether I’ll spend the next day glued to my toilet seat, or even worse, the hospital’s.
It’s this obsession with water bathing chicken, which is perfectly fine – it creates a bird that is juicy and moist, something I am of course after. But you have to finish it off on the grill or in the fryer afterwards long enough to remove any excess blood, otherwise it is just minging. There’s the texture too; who truly likes flaccid chicken flesh?
When I first tried The Lockhart’s fried chicken, I was warned before ordering that although the chicken is properly cooked, it still comes out a little pink. A light warning before hand from someone who appeared knowledgeable was all I needed. I bit through that insanely crunchy coating to discover it was the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten.
My problem is when there’s no reassurance before hand. I come from a family who cook their chicken for at least 6 hours, till there’s barely any meat left, “but at least you know it’s cooked!” Quite right Mum. That’s what I’m used to and that’s what I’ll stick to. I’m not sure chicken in a water bath / steamer / boiler is ever going to do it for me. Pink chicken? Nah, you’re alright thanks.