Q&A

The cooked and the raw: Can they be together?

kpurvis@charlotteobserver.comNovember 6, 2012 

ENTG-PASSOVER-SEDER DE

Passover Chicken Roulade is stuffed with matzo, apricots and vegetables. (Patricia Beck/Detroit Free Press/MCT)

PATRICIA BECK — MCT

Q: I am a professionally trained chef. I saw a newspaper recipe for a chicken roulade with raw chicken rolled around deli meats and cooked. I was taught that this is a public health hazard. One should never cook raw and cooked animal proteins together!

That rule seemed a little extreme to me. What about the classic dish Chicken Cordon Bleu, in which a slice of ham is placed between two chicken cutlets before cooking? So I asked Benjamin Chapman, the food safety expert for N.C. State University and the N.C. Cooperative Extension.

The chef isn’t correct, he said. It isn’t dangerous to place cooked and raw meat together as long as you then cook the raw meat correctly.

A cook might fear overcooking the cooked meat and could undercook the raw meat, he said. But as long as you use a thermometer to ensure the raw chicken reaches the correct temperature – in this case, 165 degrees – there is no reason you can’t combine the two.

Certainly, you have to handle the raw meat correctly, making sure to use clean tools and cooking surfaces and keeping the assembled dish cold until you cook it. But the raw meat won’t contaminate the cooked meat as long as both are then cooked.

Email questions about cooking and food to Kathleen Purvis at kpurvis@charlotteobserver.com.

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