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Roast Chicken - Redness in Leg Joint

Asked by mburton. Answered on 23rd February 2011

Full question

I've roasted several chickens over the years and so far haven't poisoned anyone with them? However, even when the juice runs clear when I cut into the space between the leg and breast - the leg joints are often bloody near the bone when I take them off the body - this makes me nervous and I usually put it in for a few minutes more - just to be sure. I never had this problem when I roasted a chicken in Ireland (where I come from) and this has only happened since I moved to the US! What am I doing wrong? I don't want to poison anyone and my chicken is usually very moist (I do the brandied chicken from Nigella Express) and delicious, but just want to see what I'm doing wrong. Many thanks.

Our answer

The key to checking if a chicken is thoroughly cooked is to use the juices from the chicken as a guide. Insert a sharp knife into the thickest part of the leg and if the juices run clear then it is cooked. If the juices are pink or have traces of blood in then the chicken is not quite cooked. If the juices of the chicken are clear but the area around the leg joint is red it is not necessarily undercooked. Without going into too much gory detail is is due to the chicken not being bled completely after slaughtering. It is likely that the process in Ireland is different to your local process in the US, hence the difference you are noticing in the two chickens.

If you want to be really safe then we suggest that you invest in an instant-read food thermometer (UK this is a digital thermometer). There are several models available for under $20 (see the website below). Insert the tip into the thickest part of the thigh to take a reading. The US FDA recommends that the minimum safe internal temperature for chicken is 165F (74c) so as long as the reading is this level or above then your chicken should be safe, though cooking to much higher temperatures will lead to dry meat (especially on the breast). If you find the redness in the joints unappetizing then you could roast breasts on the bone instead (chicken crown) which are much more popular in the US than the UK.



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