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Why so tough?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

So one of my Australorp cockerels broke it's leg (presumably by running through a narrow wire mesh) and I had to take it out of it's misery. It really was too early as he was only about 10 weeks old and there wasn't that much meat, but it would have been a shame to discard, so my wife cooked chicken soup.

 

But the meat is not very tender, in fact it's a bit tough. Not very tough but much more than what I'm used to from the stores. My sweet 2½yo son said he liked it, but he kept chewing on the same piece and my wife is not very satisfied either.

 

I did let the bird rest in the fridge for 3 days, although our fridge is not very cold at about 8c or 45f (we're postponing replacement until we get our new kitchen). Could that be the reason, or perhaps it's young age? Or something else?

Our chickens have access to feed for growing chicks, but they don't eat it very much, as they have access to tons of grass cuttings, worms, insects, food scraps etc.

 

You gotta help me out, guys. It's my wife's permission to raise chickens for meat that's on the line here, and it took a lot of convincing to get! :( 

post #2 of 7

Heritage fowl like Australorps are not the same as the crossbred commercial table fowl.  They have less fat for one thing, and their muscle tissue is firmer.  They are also more flavorful, but not more tender.  Cooking birds slowly over low heat helps considerably.

 

Here is and article from Mother Earth News that may be helpful - http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/cooking-heritage-breed-chickens.aspx

 

And another from the Livestock Conservancy - http://www.albc-usa.org/documents/cookingwheritagechicken.pdf

Home of the world's cutest dachshund, one crazy blue heeler, two cats,
              one fat pony, and many (but not too many!) chickens

              Can anyone tell me, how many are too many chickens?

 

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Home of the world's cutest dachshund, one crazy blue heeler, two cats,
              one fat pony, and many (but not too many!) chickens

              Can anyone tell me, how many are too many chickens?

 

Reply
post #3 of 7

10 weeks is a nice tender age regardless of breed or meat hybrid. Not to put blame on the chef but my guess is the water for soup was let to boil. That will toughen meat. Simmer at best to cook, take out and let cool to get meat off then boil the carcass to finish broth. Add vegetables and what not then the meat at end of soup preparation. 

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your replies. It does seem like my wife cooked it either too quickly and/or at too high temperature.

The next chicken I'll do my way (2-3 hours rotisserie on the grill). Then we'll know it if was the cook who is to blame :-)

post #5 of 7

Cooking methods are by age of birds. A young bird can be cooked however you like but as they age options start to be eliminated. Broiling or grilling can be done up to 14 weeks. That means frying, roasting and any method for young birds. After that age you should no longer grill/broil but frying can still be done to 18-20 weeks maybe? I don't fry so can't confirm the 20 week mark. Fromm there on it's roasting or stew and at 12 month mark roasting shouldn't be used anymore so your left with stew, crock pot birds. Most stop roasting 9 months and usually cull for roasting 6-8 months. I'll still roast 12-13 month old cock birds but do brine them first. Salt aids in water retention during the slow cooking. Otherwise you need moist low heat which is a stew bird. 

 

We've a year old cock that's been refrigerated three days needing to be cooked. Was going to make a spring chicken soup but changed my mind and decided on gumbo. Need to get to the store to find file powder and anjou sausage. There are so many options even with "stew" birds it can be hard to decide. I haven't made gumbo in two years and awoke with it on my mind. Mmmm...Gumbo.


Edited by Egghead_Jr - 5/2/16 at 4:00am

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

Is over 14 weeks really too old for grilling? On a Danish chicken forum they said 16 weeks is about the optimal age for any type of cooking before they start getting tough. And you'd think slow rotisserie grilling would make even older chicken tender.

I wonder how large my, still pretty small, chicks will be in 4 weeks, when they hit the 14-week mark.

post #7 of 7

It's up to you to try. Rotissiore cooking is low and slow so older would work. For me 14 weeks on grilling is pushing the mark. Especially when I'm talking about cockerels. Hormones are kicking in at that age and adult plumage is starting all effecting the texture of meat above and beyond the normal muscle tone development each week the bird ages. Cooking ages are general guidelines and how you actually cook it temperature wise, amount of basting, if brined and any number of things also effects the outcome as much as the age of bird. It's all relative and in the end each persons preference to texture and flavor is subjective. The only true way to know is to try it. Though the general guides to age and cooking methods should be referenced there is nothing saying a person can't successfully push the boundaries. Obviously there are limits. A retired two or three year old layer will only be tender if slow cooked with a lot of moisture/submerged or use of cooking wine and setting to break down the muscle. Coq au Vin if using the two day method is the French dish for old birds- Cock of wine. But again, that has to be the old recipe and not a prepare in few hours recipe often found online. You've got to search for the ones designed for older birds as the cook books have all turned to meat birds being used and those purchased at the grocery store are only 6-10 weeks of age when butchered. Why so tender and rather bland in flavor.

 

Edit to add:

Rotissiore is slow roasting. By the guidelines you could successfully do that to 12 months of age. 6 months would be no problem. I'll add my brine recipe as it's taken a few years to get it right and what you find online is all over the place or using a ton of salt to brine only few hours. I've got it to where I brine the bird for 18-24 hours and use less salt. That way once butchered it can go in brine then taken out to finish aging or having many birds can change out birds in brine over three day period. By weight not volume 6 to 8 ounces of salt (any type from table to rock salt) per gallon of water used. 8 ounces I find a bit salty but not bad at all and 6 ounces is very lightly salted yet still functions as a brine making the bird retain moisture. In that range depending on your taste and that length of time works wonderful. You'll see 10 ounces per gallon and more if you look it up. Ugh, far too salty unless brined for few hours which is simply a waste of salt and doesn't permeate into all the meat.


Edited by Egghead_Jr - 5/2/16 at 6:28am

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

Reply

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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