Ever wondered if you can cook a chicken solely from the heat generated by slapping it? So did YouTuber Louis Weisz, and the verdict is… yes. Yes, you can.
As you can see from the video embedded below, the endeavor took plenty of work – two months' worth in total – from testing out the theory to constructing a super-speedy (and customizable) chicken slapper to actually getting the bird cooked.
But in the end, Weisz did indeed come out with a cooked chicken at the end of it: a triumph of persistence if not really a practical option for your next camping trip.
Two key considerations along the way were keeping the slaps fast and hard enough to heat the meat without causing it to disintegrate and managing to restrict heat loss – and as the video shows, they were both overcome.
The cooking physics behind the idea is actually sound. It's possible that a 2019 Reddit post was the inspiration for the video, as it originally posed the question of whether converted kinetic energy (movement) into thermal energy (heat) could cook a chicken.
Among those who weighed in on that original question was a physics student who suggested that one slap would do it – if that slap had a velocity of 1,666 meters per second or 3,726 miles per hour.
Possible then, but not exactly viable – and other solutions reached the same conclusion. It was only with a lot of mechanical help and a specially configured rig that Louis Weisz was able to get his chicken cooked.
Using a tip from Modernist Cuisine, Weisz figured out that keeping the chicken at around 55-60 degrees Celsius (131-140 degrees Fahrenheit), for at least an hour, would be enough to cook it through – or at least kill off the same amount of bacteria as cooking it at a higher temperature over a shorter period would.
After several failed attempts – mostly on the mechanical side – Weisz hit the jackpot. In the final calculations, it needs a minimum of 135,000 slaps across as many as 8 hours to slap-cook a chicken, using up around 7,500 Watt Hours of energy (two or three times as much as your oven would need for the same job), according to Weisz.
Weisz even had time to cook a steak using the same method, which reminds us of another question about cooking and physics: can you cook something by dropping it from space? The answer to that is almost definitely not.