introduce kids to proper meat handling techniques

Stop, Hammer Time

While there’s hopefully a part of every adult that treasures the nostalgic throw-back to MC Hammer, this activity is about introducing kids to proper meat handling techniques, not parachute pants. And did I mention it also gives kids the chance to help pound chicken breasts to their hearts content with a meat mallet?

The activity can be appropriate for children of all ages. However, you should gauge how much of the activity will be demonstrated by you and how much you’ll allow them to be involved in. Improper handling of raw meat or poor hand washing can result in very serious food borne illness. By introducing kids to the potential risks of food borne illness now, however, you may help save them from getting sick later.

Learning objective – kids will assist in the preparation of chicken cordon bleu and learn about proper meat handling techniques.

You will need, for each chicken cordon bleu:

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 slice ham
  • 1 slice Swiss cheese
  • 2 tbsp bread crumbs
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Toothpicks
  • Plastic wrap
  • Meat tenderizer mallet
  • Vinegar or bleach

Activity:

Throughout, emphasize the 4 keys to preventing food borne illness:

  1. Clean
  2. Separate
  3. Cook
  4. Chill

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Have kids CLEAN their hands. Address the need to wash before preparing any food and after handling any raw meat or eggs.
  3. Place a cutting board on the counter. Emphasize this is a SEPARATE cutting board just for raw meats.
  4. Remove chicken from the fridge. Show how it has been kept SEPARATE from other food items.
  5. Place chicken on cutting board and cover with plastic wrap to prevent chicken juices from splattering on other kitchen surfaces.
  6. Pound chicken breast with flat end of meat tenderizer until it is ¼ inch thick.
    • Note: this is a service that your local grocery store butcher can provide for you if you prefer.
  7. Remove and discard plastic wrap and place ham and Swiss cheese on chicken.
  8. Roll chicken, ham, and cheese and secure with toothpick.
  9. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and place on baking pan.
  10. CLEAN your hands and remind kids that always after touching raw meats you should wash your hands.
  11. Bake chicken for 30-35 minutes. Tell kids that properly COOKING meats will kill all bacteria and make them safe to eat.
  12. While chicken is baking, CLEAN cutting board and meat mallet by wiping them down with pure vinegar or soaking them in a combination of 1 tbsp bleach in 1 gallon water and then washing with soap and water. Alternatively, you can put them in a dish washer that reaches 170 degrees.
  13. Emphasize that the last step to CHILL any leftovers is still important. Cooked meats and other perishable foods shouldn’t be left out of the fridge for more than 2 hours.
  14. Enjoy a delicious chicken cordon bleu that your children can be proud they helped make!

Not only is this activity fun and educational, it’s also functional since you’ll be getting your dinner made at the same time. For additional activities, videos, and resources, visit the website www.fightbac.org.