Originally Posted by mcnerd
I would assume that many previous models of slow cookers only heated from the bottom and would therefore have cold spots that might cause a problem with chicken not heating up quick enough. I don't see that issue with today's slow cookers and I would laugh at anybody that said a RIVAL Crock-Pot did not heat up enough.
I'm very sensitive and involved with the issues of canning foods and spoilage, but I am more comfortable with using a slow cooker with a frozen bird than I am defrosting it in water and all the subsequent handling of it.
Yes, the USDA recommendation is important and should be considered, but in this case I will risk it.
It is not about the crock pot, it is about the chicken. Even in a crock pot that heats like a dutch oven, the bird itself has different thicknesses and different densities. Generally when we cook meat, we are cooking a single muscle. With whole birds, we are cooking white meat, dark meat and wings all at the same time.
The simple point is that a frozen bird will not react the same way to heating up that a thawed bird that is essentially all at 35-40 degrees will. The bird can sit at the area between 40 and 140 far longer. This is what the studies have found and this is the reason for the caution.
If you put a frozen bird in a 350 degree oven, it may take 3 hours to get fully cooked. No problem, that is under four. Put it in a Crockpot on low (as you originally said) and you are cooking at around 200 degrees, no matter how well the heat is distributed. If it takes 10-12 hours to be "done" at 180 degrees, how long will it take to reach 140 degrees?
The reason problems are rare, is because all pathogenic bacteria will eventually be killed at 180 degrees and spores will not be a problem if properly cooled and handled afterwords.
The only real risk is staph toxin, which is heat stable.
It is the job of the USDA to caution about this type of potential even if the actual occurrence is not that common.
We all have to decide for ourselves if we are willing to take the chances with our own families that we don't want the restaurants taking when we eat out.