can chicken be "cooked" with a lower internal temp?

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by scottlindner, Dec 31, 2009.

  1. I'm somewhat of a newbie to smoking. I'm using a GOSM. the part couple of times I have tried smoking boneless skinless chicken breasts I have felt it was done long before the internal temp was anywhere near 165F. Right now I've had two packages of breasts in the smoker for two hours with the GOSM temp around 240F. The internal temp of the chicken breasts are around 120F but they feel really tough when inserting the temp probe like they are fully cooked and already starting to dry out, and the outside looks like they've been done for a while. This has happened to me before where I don't even get close to 165F internal temp after 5 hours so I pull them out, and sure enough, they are odd shaped hockey pucks.

    I have suspected my temp probe but I just verified it. In ice cold water (mostly ice) it reads 32.0F and in boiling water it reads 199.7F (BP at my home's elevation).

    I'm wondering, can chicken be cooked with an internal temp lower than 165F simply due to the time it has been cooked at a low temp. Kind of like curing in a way?


    PS - Smoking a brisket for New Years Day lunch tomorrow along with the breasts for dinner tonight.
  2. chefrob

    chefrob Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    no......however you may not be "temping" correctly. there are several ways to determine the doneness of meat. another way to tell is by feel/ resistance, clear juices is also a sign, and the best way for anyone to tell is simply cutting it open at the thickest part.
  3. OK.. so 2.5 hours in the smoker, internal temp reads 225F, cut one open and it's DONE. Like obviously done about an hour ago. The thermometer is good but I don't know why chicken breasts always read low for me. my only thought is they are cooling down that fast after I open the door and wait for the thermometer to read. Last time I checked the air temp outside was 25F.

    So if it is dry in the center, it is done? If I wanted juicy chicken breasts I'd probably have to pull them off when the internal temp reads around 100F, which ain't right at all.

  4. chefrob

    chefrob Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    az i said, something is wacky about your "temping". it may be your thermometer or it might just be you. i can't tell if i am not there, but that is why i gave you the other methods. i rarely rely on just one mehod......the one i rely on the most is my experience. once you develope your own routine you will have it down to the tee!
  5. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Like Chef Rob said there are many ways to tell if chicken is done. You can cut in half and see if it's done or you can see that the juices that run out of it are clear. Then you can safely eat it.
  6. Yah, I hear ya. I have two engineering degrees, you'd think I could figure out how to use one of the oldest scientific instruments known to man. I keep buying thermometers blaming them, but after perfect results on the ice bath and boiling water today, I really believe that I'm doing something wrong. I just don't get it.. stick it in the thickest spot, wait for it to stop changing, and read.

    You have convinced me to not rely solely on the thermometer. Which helped boost my confidence in eating the chicken when the temp is way off even though I believe it's overdone. Thanks for that. I'll use my instincts more. I've cooked a lot of meat on grills so I know the "touch" of cooked meat. Harder to rely on timing with a smoker though. At least for me.

  7. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Is this a typo or is it 225º internal?

    Also what thermometer are you using? Brand and Model?
  8. dutch

    dutch Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Scott, you should have cooked that chicken to an internal temp of 160-165*F. I try to keep the chamber temp of my GOSM around 225-235*F when doing pork or beef but for poultry, I'll kick the internal temp up to around 275-300*F.

    Wow-chicken done to 225* internal could almost be used for shoe leather!! [​IMG]
  9. Yep, typo. I meant 125F.

    The one I'm currently using is a CDN Q2-450X. It reads fast and i verified it this morning at both boiling and freezing temps and it's dead on down to the tenth of a degree. I suppose it may not read linearly in the center of that range. I have no way to verify that. I have tried six different thermometers over the past year and always seem to end up with low temps on overcooked meats, particularly chicken for some reason. Maybe it's just more obvious when chicken is overcooked.

    The chicken I pulled out at 125F internal temp today is very dry and it has burnt ends.

    I believe it has to be how I'm reading the temp, but I just don't get how I could be doing something wrong. Thankfully the other posts confirmed that relying on instincts is probably best anyway.

  10. That's about the temp I did it at. After 2.5 hours I pulled it out and the chicken breasts read 125F, but are very dry with burnt ends.

    I just gotta figure out what I'm doing wrong because for long smokes it would be nice to trust a thermometer.

  11. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    You might want to go with something like a Maverick ET-73 dual probe where you can monitor both cabinet temp and internal meat temp. You can monitor temps without having to open the door too often.

    With the one you are using is a hand held probe and you have to open the smoker to take a reading. In cold weather you are loosing a lot of heat. That may have some bearing on why you are getting squirrely readings... Just a thought
  12. I use another thermometer with a long probe that I snak through the vent at the top for that. I only use the unit I referenced to verify the temp before pulling it out. I am using a Polder probe type kitchen thermometer. I currently have it stuffed into the brisket I'm smoking so i don't have a reading from it on the chicken. Typically I find the Polder and CDN to read very similar to each other, but not always.

  13. ronp

    ronp Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Does your therm have a Fahrenheit and Centigrade setting maybe?
  14. I think next time I do chicken I'll record video of me opening the door of the smoker and taking a reading to post it. So everyone can see what the chicken looks like, after I cut it open, how I read the thermometer, etc. That might help. Maybe an obvious mistake that I'm not catching, like having the thermometer set for C and not notice. :p
  15. fire it up

    fire it up Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That's a good question, I would assume that would be something you would check but it's something that could so easily be overlooked.
    I know most of the probes I have bought are preset to read C.
  16. Yes, it does, and I just verified it is set to F. It was also set correctly when I verified the thermometer in ice water and boiling water. So I know it is reading correctly.

  17. bbally

    bbally Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Are you inserting the thermometer correctly? These units are made to be inserted in the meat so the entire thin area is in the meats center and the larger barrel is penatrating the out layers of the meat being measured. Failure to insert it like this will result in the temp probe averaging temps outside the meat.
  18. I have experimented with that. I have confirmed the sensitive region is in the first 1/4" with no change in temp read inserting further. I did this by doing experiments with all of my metal probes in water that is a very different temp than room temperature. However, suspecting some sort of conductive influence I always try to insert as much as possible which is challenging with a chicken breast. For the CDN Q2-450X the product literature states it's best for thin meats, so I'd hope they aren't blatantly lying on something NSF approved for commercial use. A lot of people could get sick.

    Good suggestion! You're probably on the right track and I'm not seeing exactly how I'm botching it up. I'll think more about that the next time I do chicken breasts.

  19. olecrosseyes

    olecrosseyes Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    What I see is in your first post, "Boneless and Skinless".

    I have no idea on what temp and how to cook those but, I feel something is missing there.

    I've only smoked bone in and skin on. Got two whole chickens going in today.

    Anybody on Boneless and skinless?
  20. tlzimmerman

    tlzimmerman Meat Mopper

    If I were you, I would buy a cheap 6 dollar analog themometer, stick it in a breast when you are thinking its getting close, close the door and let it inside for 20 minutes and see what your temp reading are from it when you open again.

    I have a feeling its just dropping close to that much from the time you are opening the door and getting a probe in. Either that or run a remote probe outside, but those cost more. How thick are the chicken pieces, all I know is in 20 degrees my snack sticks and such at 150 can drop quick when they hit 20 degree air.

    Another thing i thought of, they make "grill" digital testers, I have one that has 2 short thick probes that look like a meat fork, and they are good and thick, designed to use for steaks and such when you are grilling to test for rare, medium rare, and also has poultry settings on it. Maybe this would be way more accurate than a probe type meant ot be inserted to the center of meat? Might be worth a try if you can find one.

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