T Nation

Chicken Gone Bad?


Question to the cooks here.

I have some chicken breasts I bought and froze well before the sell by date. I left a couple in my fridge to thaw out (for eight hours or so). I pulled them out, rinsed them, and trimmed them. They have some smell to them, a bit of a sweet smell.

I went ahead and stir fried them, anyway. In general, though, is this enough of an indication that they've gone bad? If so, how did they go bad in my freezer (they were completely frozen when I pulled them out)?


Are you sure you didn't by some kind of seasoned chicken?

I've never heard of it smelling sweet when bad...


I don't have the best sense of smell, so who knows. They were unseasoned, boneless, skinless, plain-old chicken breasts.

I made sure to cook everything thoroughly, so hopefully I won't get sick!


My general rule of thumb, if it doesn't smell bad it good. When I say bad, I mean something that smells like a dead animal in the sun for 2 days or so.

Did it taste strange at all? If not, then you should be just fine.

As for how it could go bad in the freezer, not all bacteria are killed in the freezing process. Some of the worst ones just form a cyst and go dormant. If you thaw them in room temperature, they can awaken and go to work doing what all life does. The danger zone is 40*F and above.


I tossed some chicken thighs out, today. They smelled bad. Not sweet.

If they were good before you froze them, they should be good now. Freezing won't help, but won't hurt.

Thorough cooking helps, but isn't foolproof. Bacteria CAN leave behind toxins when they grow/multiply. Those toxins can stick around even after cooking and make you sick. But, the odds are good that you're good.


Even if it did go bad, you cooked it, so it shouldn't matter unless you don't like the taste.

Remember, the reason pepper used to be so valuable was because people didn't have fridges and actually had to eat spoiled meat on a regular basis... pepper masked the taste.


There was a piece or two that tasted a little sharp, but overall I think it was fine.

If I don't have the runs tonight or tomorrow, I will eat the leftovers. :smiley:

Thanks for the advice, guys, and I'll let you all know how it turns out.


i know the smell you mean. they're not so far gone. rinse and paper dry and make sure to cook them through - till the juices run clear as they say.

when i have suspect chicken i use it for fried rice or stir fry or whatever as it's broken down into smaller pieces, easier to cook through, and also less noticable that you've cooked it to death.


How the hell did my mind see, "Chickens Gone Wild"?


You only need to experience one bad case of food poisoning to not have any qualms about dumping food that you have even the slightest doubt about. Seriously.

If the chicken is bad and you end up only getting the runs, consider yourself fortunate.


btw for what it's the worth i've read the better stocked your gut is w/ good bacteria the better off you are in regards to potential food poisoning.


I've had two bad bouts of food poisoning.

It doesn't frighten me anymore.

I was hungry, goddamnit, and I wanted stirfry.


A couple of thoughts...

Freezer burn will make a region of meat look a bit funny and taste a bit funny, but it's not spoilage per se. Chop out and throw away those bits and you'll be happier.

Generally, bad food has a noticeable smell or discoloration. However, one of the bonuses of cooking is that it kills anything alive in the food if it's well cooked.

If you can't tell something is bad, cooking it should do the job, because there shouldn't be any appreciable mold or byproducts of decay making it dangerous to eat. If there was, you should see it or smell it.

So, don't cook in the dark with a stuffy nose!

That being said, to all those single guys that don't take it seriously, spoiled food can be extremely dangerous especially with the nuke it a bit and eat it mentality around these days.


This one time I had some chicken in the refrigerator that was definitely a little gone by. It had a "gamey" smell and was slick when I took it out of the package. I used it to make coq au vin (chicken braised in red wine, vegetables and herbs). To this day I believe that the gaminess made it the best coq au vin I ever made.

Stirfry would NOT have been a good thing to make with gamey chicken. The cooking time with stirfry is just not long enough to kill the bacteria. Braising entails long cooking times with liquid at relatively low heat (225 - 250 degrees) which would kill what stirfrying doesn't.


it doesn't matter as long as it's cooked through. you can pasteurize milk @ 162f in 15 seconds or you can pasteurize it @ 280f in 2 seconds.

stir frying just gets you there faster as you've got a 500f+ wok with alot of surface area and your product(chicken) is broken down into a very small surface area, like 1 inch cubes.if you do it right you'll cook that chicken through very, very fast. stir fry is like the f1 of cooking.

your warning is a good one though because most people read a stir fry recipe and it says to do it fast, but what they don't understand is why you have to do it fast -because there's so much heat. most people are afraid to wield the kind of heat and therefore speed it takes to stir fry.

braising is a great idea for larger, tougher pieces of meat. what's happening when you braise is you're overcooking the meat so all of it's natural water is released and it dries out to the point that it re-absorbes the braising liquid and takes on that flavor as well as tenderizing an otherwise tough piece of meat like shank or shoulder.

you can do it of course but, to me, it doesn't really make sense to braise something that's already tender, like chicken breast or veal or a beef tenderloin. you braise coq au vin because coq is rooster and is a whole lot tougher than chicken. rooster is alot meatier an gamier and totally worth it to find one. and don't listen to anyone who says to use cheap cooking wine. braise that fucker in exactly what you're drinking. i suggest cote-rotie. and btw don't forget the lardons. repeat 100x: do not forget the lardons. do not forget the lardons. do not forget the lardons...


Do not forget the hard-ons?

(And aren't roosters also considered chickens?)


when they were thawing in the fridge, did you cover them in any way? The chicken can absorb odors.

Flesh that has gone bad will almost always smell horrible. Most toxins created by the bacteria or mold feasting on the food are heat-labile(heat destroys them), like botulism.

However, there are some rare toxins that are heat stable, like the toxins created by staphyloccocus(sp?) aureus. Generally staphylococcus likes to hang out in open wounds/scaps/nostrils. Moist places with lots of nutrients, it is estimated that about 30% of the population carry staphylococcus aureus in their nose at any one time(Effect of Mupirocin Treatment on Nasal, Pharyngeal, and Perineal Carriage of Staphylococcus aureus in Healthy Adults

Heiman F. L. Wertheim,* Jeroen Verveer, H?l?ne A. M. Boelens, Alex van Belkum, Henri A. Verbrugh, and Magreet C. Vos)

so uh yea, heat your damn food and you'll be fine. sometimes theres just nothing you could have done and your were destined to be food poisoned.


I used a Cote du Rhone. I browned the chicken in bacon grease that I save from breakfast.

I did some searching and it appears that hanging old rooster (guts in) for a few days is one traditional way to prep the bird. Damn, now I know why. The flavor it adds is powerful.

Thanks for the science behind braising. I love to braise cheap cuts of meat -- shanks, tails, short ribs. I have to wait for the fall though. Too hot out now.


How long can you keep a chicken in the fridge for?


Until it reanimates and escapes...