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smokehunter 12-02-2010 08:26 AM

Duck- Danger Zone
I posted this in the food handling forum but there are a lot more people viewing this forum right now, and since I am under time constraints....I'm going to cook some wild duck for a christmas party tonight. They have been in a mini refrig soaking in salt water for several days. I marinated them last night and wrapped them in bacon. I noticed this a.m. that the freezer part was iced up. I stuck a thermometer in the marinade and it was at 44 deg. So, my question is, I realize the danger zone is 41-140. Do you guys think 3 deg really makes that big of a difference? Thanks for the help.

aquablue22 12-02-2010 09:11 AM

What was the temp of the duck itself?

"When in doubt, throw it out?"

imperfectutopia 12-02-2010 09:12 AM

I really dont know the answer to your question. Logically, i would think that there would be fewer types of bacteria that can grow at 43 than say 80... but there would be some that can... There must be some reason that the number is 40*, and not 44*. Mostly though, i wonder if the salt in the brine would make a difference in this equation... Sort of like a cure, preserving it???? Any other thoughts guys?

ibait2fish 12-02-2010 09:24 AM

I think you're likely o.k. The brine does inhibit bacterial growth depending on the
strength. 43 isn't that warm, plus you're gonna cook it thoroughly. With many dry
cures no refrigeration is needed, the salt stops decomposition and cures the food, and some of these require no cooking..lox, gravlox,etc.

That said, what really matters is how you feel about serving it to company.

Garyclaw 12-02-2010 09:24 AM

We have 2 mini-fridges in our garage and both the frezzer parts are frosted up, but the beer is still very cold. I'm not sure if this is the same as "iced up".
The part about "several days" at a condition where bacteria can grow would concern me. Are you sure your thermo is right?

Gore 12-02-2010 10:15 AM

There is not a magical cut-off at 40*. Food will still go bad in the refrigerator at 38* or 34*, it just takes longer. At 44* it will just go bad more quickly. There are charts estimating the times, but these really are just estimates. The salt certainly will help preserve, depending on how much you have. There are so many variables involved, you cannot consider any hard and fast rules. I've had meat go bad in a very cold refrigerator way before the expiration date and I've had it last longer also. You can really tell when meat goes bad just by smelling it. The best way to tell is to use your wife's nose, as her's is more sensitive than yours. That said, when in doubt, I do throw it out, as I just can't enjoy a meal thinking I might be paying for it later.

Incidentally, before the era of refrigeration, not really that long ago, meat often went bad. The remedy was to cook it sufficiently long to destroy anything in it that might kill you, usually turning it into sausage. This really is the key to why spices were such a big deal and so costly in the middle ages. It was to cover up the sour flavor of all the meat that went bad, thus saving a LOT of money. For many of us, eating meat seasoned just with salt is great, but if that meat went bad, the sour would still come through.

Usually, we cook poultry for a pretty long time to kill the bad bacteria -- it's what we were trained to do, the result of the very poor quality meat processing done in the US. The last I read, you have about a 1 in 10,000 chance of getting salmonella poisoning from a chicken egg, suggesting that 1 in 10,000 chickens is contaminated. However, I'm told the processing of chickens is done in large quantities where all the chickens become contaminated. It is estimated that 1 in 3 chickens purchased are contaminated with salmonella, suggesting about 3000 to 4000 chickens are processed at a time before sufficient cleaning is performed. The net result is that we don't have serious problem eating raw or undercooked eggs (small odds of getting sick), but we wouldn't eat raw chicken (high odds of getting sick). Incidentally, in some countries where they process things the old-fashioned way (which is considered unsanitary in the USA), they have no problem eating their chicken cooked medium rare as it is as safe as eating a raw egg.

jestridge 12-02-2010 10:52 AM

I think the brine would keep it safe

redvert05 12-02-2010 10:55 AM

It all comes down to one simple question...."how well do you like the people that will be attending the party?" :-D

Abelman 12-02-2010 11:14 AM

My bet is that it's OK but then I'm not eating it. I had my turkey in the mini fridge for a few days and got basically the same type reading as far as the liquid temp.

It's kind of a tough fridge to get dialed in. So, I put the probe in the cavity of the bird, touching the rib bones and it was much cooler than the surrounding liquid and in the safe zone.

I did brine that bird for 24 hours as the salt helps. Long story short, 5 hours in the BGE and finishing temp of 165, everything was good to go and no ill effects from anyone.

smokehunter 12-02-2010 11:23 AM

Thanks for all the replys I figured I would give a follow up...This is wild duck so inheretnly it has a pretty strong smell when raw, I'm sure the other duck hunters can agree with this... The salt brine was more to draw the wild taste out (blood) than to change the flavor so it wasn't really that strong but I'm still gonna tell myself it helped :wink:. I cut it into pieces while it was soaking so maybe that helped also?.. Any other thoughts are appreciated!

smokehunter 12-02-2010 11:24 AM

oh yeah, as I'm sure other duck hunters can attest, you eat wild duck med rare. anything past and it gets a really strong liver flavor.

Abelman 12-02-2010 12:15 PM

I understand the rare thing. I was just relating a turkey situation similiar to your situation. In fact, here's some duck I did along those lines. I will say, as far as poultry goes, duck is my favotrite:

Good luck and let us know how it goes. :thumb:

landarc 12-02-2010 12:46 PM

Sorry, I had to do it.

Back to topic, I think the brine will save you.

smokehunter 12-02-2010 12:49 PM

Man that looks good almost looks like a pork loin... was that a wild duck?

Abelman 12-02-2010 01:14 PM


Originally Posted by smokehunter (Post 1472939)
Man that looks good almost looks like a pork loin... was that a wild duck?

Thanks but no, it's not a wild duck, store bought. I got the recipe from a fishing buddy of mine who is a duck hunter. He did some greenheads one night after a fishing trip. It was the first ime I had ever had duck and was amazed. So much different and better IMO than turkey or chicken. Between the marinade and the natural fat on them, I was hooked.

His deal is a 24 hour marinade and on the grill. No brine although I like brined whole chicken. I have tried smoking a duck with the same marinade but it wasn't quite as good and more time intensive. So, for duck, I'm a griller and it helps the skin as you know. Strangely, I eat duck skin but not chicken or turkey skin.

That duck was the first one I ever did. I would say it was just as good as his but didn't have to worry about any shot, which really helps with small kids. I've done a few since and we love duck. After seeing your thread, it's got me in the mood for another even post Thanksgiving.

BTW, sorry for any confusion, not trying to make this thread anymore than it is, per the original question. :thumb:

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