Raw chicken that has been frozen must always be fully and properly defrosted before it is cooked. This is essential in order to reduce the risk of contracting food poisoning from meat that has been insufficiently or improperly cooked.
While defrosting a chicken does not require any special techniques, there are some methods that are safe and others that should be avoided. It is important to know these safe methods in advance so that sufficient time may be allocated for the chicken to fully defrost.
The best way by far to defrost a frozen chicken is in the refrigerator. This will take a minimum of 24 hours and up to 48 hours, depending upon the size of the bird. The chicken should be removed from any packaging and set in a deep dish. It should be loosely covered with some plastic wrap or a plastic bag. The dish must be placed on the very bottom shelf of the refrigerator to eliminate the risk of cross-contamination by the defrosting juices of other foods in the fridge. When the chicken is fully defrosted, it should be washed thoroughly in cold water and patted dry with kitchen paper before finally being prepared for cooking.
It is possible where time is short to speed up the chicken thawing process by submerging the chicken completely, still wrapped, in cold water. This will cut the defrosting time approximately in half, compared to the refrigerator method. The water should be changed frequently and care taken to ensure the chicken remains fully submerged at all times. Warm or hot water must never be used as this will start the cooking process and significantly increase any risk of food poisoning. The chicken must again be washed thoroughly prior to being cooked.
It should only be used as a last resort, but chicken can be defrosted in the microwave. The settings and time required should be determined by referring to the manufacturer?s instructions. When a chicken is defrosted in the microwave, it must be cooked immediately after the process is complete. This is due to the cooking process having likely begun and any delay leading to a risk of food poisoning.
Chicken should never be defrosted at room temperature. This would allow harmful bacteria to form and represent an unacceptable risk. Equally, it must never be cooked where any part of the bird is still frozen or even contains ice crystals. If, for any reason, a chicken can not be defrosted fully in time to be cooked for when it is required, alternative eating arrangements should be made and no unacceptable risks taken.