How to Clean Your Dirty Meat

I got some useful advice the other day. 

It’s amazing what you can learn from older people if you’re willing to just sit down and listen. I was talking to an older man (75-80y/o range) about the food he eats when we got onto the topic of meat. He stopped our conversation abruptly and looked at me with a serious expression and suspicious eyes, “Do you clean your meat before you eat it? Or do you eat it dirty?”

I found this to be a strange statement. I answered cautiously, perhaps he was demented and I hadn’t spotted the signs in our earlier banter, “No. [pause for careful wording] I RINSE it sometimes, but I can’t say that I CLEAN it.” He looked at me with a look of reproach and announced loudly, “Well! You should! You’re eating DIRTY MEAT!”

Our conversation had taken an interesting twist. As we continued talking, he shared his meat processing history with me. As a former meat processor, it was obvious that he takes a lot of pride in his late occupation. He informed me that, “When I was in business, I would PROPERLY process meat. Not this half-a$$ job you get done now days!”

After lamenting about how much things have changed in the past 40 years, he informed me of the major difference in today’s processors: they stopped cleaning their meat. A person used to be able to go to the store and buy washed meat, but not today!

Intrigued. I asked more. Apparently, processing leaves behind a fair amount of grime. All of the packaged meat in the store SHOULD be washed off after processing… BUT it’s not because we don’t have time or energy. The grime stays.

That means we’re eating it… dirty.  

Fear not! There’s a solution… you can wash it yourself with three cheap ingredients: Cold Water + Apple Cider Vinegar + Salt Water. He suggested soaking the meat for at least 30 minutes to two hours. If you want to soak it longer – he suggested adding ice to the water or putting the soaking pan in the fridge. These are all smart recommendations to avoid possible food borne illness.

As he was leaving, he assured me it was a very easy process and I promised him I would try it.

Fast forward one week…

Yesterday, I got some chicken out of the fridge and I thought, “Today is the day. If any meat is dirty – it’s gotta be a bird.” So, I informed my sister that we would have to wait for supper. I needed to experiment.

The Dirty Chicken Experiment:

  1. Fill a pan with cold water
  2. Add “enough apple cider vinegar to smell”
  3. Add a “healthy dosing of salt”
  4. Add raw meat to the bath and let sit for 15 minutes or more (I know he said THIRTY minutes… but my sister was tired and I felt guilty for making her wait on me, so I only lasted 15 minutes)

Regardless of my flawed methodology, I had some proof. My chicken was indeed a dirty bird. Check it out.

Pretty cool. Even after that shortened period of time, the result was still a noticeable difference!

But how did it taste?

The old man mentioned that this would improve the taste, but I’m from Missouri and I say, “Show me.”

After soaking the raw chicken in the apple cider and salt bath, I drained the liquid and baked it like normal. My first bite I was expecting to taste the same old chicken I always taste… BUT, I have to say – I was impressed with the taste of my clean chicken. It was different. A definite improvement.

He’s right. Our meat is dirty.

Me = Believer.

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