Watch where you’re sticking it in

I’ve loved Chicken with Broccoli and Cheese (of various brands) since childhood. These prepared-but-raw entrees mostly fell by the wayside when I started cooking like a grown-up. But just last week, the crunchy broccoli with melted cheese hidden inside tasty breaded chicken thingies called out to me and my inner child, and a box of them was soon in my home freezer.

A couple years ago (under the alias C. Wilkinson), I watched a bunch of people cooking products just like these in model kitchens. I was helping graduate researcher Sarah DeDonder, who was curious what could be contributing to the half-dozen Salmonella outbreaks associated with such products that occurred in the ten years before the study (and the two outbreaks after).

The raw, frozen chicken thingies I brought home last week were made by Antioch Farms (a Koch Foods brand). The box’s front label proclaimed, in half-inch-high letters, that the products were indeed raw. The back label warned me not to cook them in the microwave. It also showed me how to stick a thermometer in to be sure each one reached a bacteria- and virus-killing 165 F.

I found each of these label features fairly helpful. However, when I baked them for dinner last night, I modified the depicted thermometer-sticking method a little to determine the internal temperature of the chicken, rather than the filling.

I’m happy to report that the chicken read 175 F before it reached the dinner table. And it was as delicious as I remembered.