Barred rock processed

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by alexk1980, May 16, 2011.

  1. alexk1980

    alexk1980 New Egg

    Nov 27, 2009
    I processed my 8 month old barred rock yesterday and have to say that the meat was not as tender as I thought it would be. The killing was done humanely with an insicion to the left jugular as she was hung by her legs. After a few minutes and when I knew she peacefully passed, the butchering process began with removing the legs and head. I followed by dunking the carcass in about 155 degree water for about 20 seconds and began to de-feather her. All of the butchering was done with a kitchen knife, removing all of the inners and then letting the end product sit in a vat of ice water. I baked the bird for 2 hrs in the oven at 350 degrees. I have to say I only go about 1.5 lb of meat from the bird and it is very chewy, tough and gamey.

    My question is why is the meat so tough, is it because she was a "free range" and not a caged bird? How can I raise more tender birds? Should I process cornish meat birds? What type of feed should I use?
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    The answer is yes and no.
    In short, the meat is tough for several reasons and if you only want very tender meat rais cornish X.
    First of all it doesn't sound like you let the meat rest. The first time I raised meat birds in my adult life I was so anxious to taste the good meat I threw ond of the first birds right in the rotisserie. Big mistake.
    Now I let my birds rest bone in, refrigerated at least 3 days before freezing or cooking. This lets the rigor mortis dissipate.
    Anything other than cornish X need to be cooked low and slow. Forget a 375 oven for an hour.
    I bake covered, breast down at 180 for 4 or 5 hours depending on the size. Then when I see the meat pulling from the legs I broil uncovered 15 more minutes. An alternative is 3 to 4 hour bake and 30 minutes on the rotisserie.
    They really do get tender this way. You can also fry (slowly) or crock pot.

    The other part of the answer is that it is because they are free range. They actually use their muscles rather than sit next to the feeder till they die. It's necessary to chew the meat. On the plus side, they actually taste like chicken without unnecessary seasoning. A little sea salt, pepper and maybe rosemary and you're good to go.

    If you want something that melts in your mouth and tastes like whatever you season it to taste like, raise cornish.
    Since the advent of cornish cross, people have forgotten how to cook chicken.
  3. aShMaNv

    aShMaNv Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2010
    Choctaw, OK
    I know that it doesn't take long for the meat to become tough. Most anything that is 8 months old, i would think would be a little tougher. Really just good for stew. For meat birds like cornish and others they usually butcher those within 6-8 weeks. Then dual purpose breeds like the Barred Rocks and RIRs take longer to put some size on. I usually butcher my RIR cockerels by 16-20 weeks. Sometimes i do it a little earlier. They wont be near as large, but the younger you butcher a bird, the more tender the meat. The older the bird is, the tougher the meat will be. Regardless of feed or free range I would think. I do think feed could possibly make a difference. I couldn't tell you, but i think the age is the biggest factor here. However, i do butcher some old hens every once and a while who have slowed down on the laying. But like i said, all they are really good for is stew because the meat is tougher because the hens are older. Hope this helps.
  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    "Dual purpose" birds aren't so much dual, if you know what I mean. As a culture, we've grown accustomed to plastic wrapped meat birds from the store. It is what our senses say is chicken. CornishX sets a mental standard that dual purpose are almost impossible to meet. They tend to be darker, tougher, and far smaller portions of muscle for meat on the breast and elsewhere.

    About the only thing even close is a "fryer". That means you butcher young dual purpose birds at 16-18 weeks, before the bird matures and the muscles get tough. They portions will be tiny, but at least they'll be tender. At 8 months, your hen was likely a tough old bird, by meat standards and about you can do is slow cook or pressure cook.
    Last edited: May 16, 2011
  5. Dogfish

    Dogfish Rube Goldberg incarnate

    Mar 17, 2010
    Western Washington
    +1 on the resting. Also agree on a low and slow cooking method, or pressure cooker.
  6. KatyTheChickenLady

    KatyTheChickenLady Bird of A Different Feather

    Dec 20, 2008
    Boise, Idaho
    the biggest reason for you problem here is that you did not "rest" the bird long enough to let the rigor leave the body before cooking. This results in VERY chewy meat that is well attached to the bone. A mistake that most of us have made with our first butcher day. Personally I have found that the older they are the longer they seem to need to "rest".
  7. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 5, 2010
    Hi ALexK1980,

    did you rest the meat before using it for cooking?

    When a bird is dispatched, after about 20 minutes (sometimes less) rigor mortis sets in — the muscles start to firm up in one position.

    This stiffness can take 24-48 hours to completely go away. Usually people rest the carcass in the fridge or freeze it, then rest it once thawed.

    Supermarket chickens don't have rigor mortis because they were chilled so quickly after death (before rigor set in).

    Your bird was also much older than supermarket chickens — but at 8 months with appropriate resting it should be reasonably tender if cooked the right way. At that age I would probably slow cook just to be sure.

    Lastly I find that a stressed bird (just before death) will be a tough bird. Keeping the bird calm until that last second makes a big difference.

    In the old days, especially in England, people would pen roosters in tiny shed-cages with just their heads poking out, and a trough would sit below that. This was done for 10 days and the birds were fed a slurry of milk and oats (no water to drink). That seems cruel to me, personally.

    If I suspect a table bird is going to be tough, I might put him in a small cage or pen on grass, where he can still feel part of the wandering flock but not be able to tread hens or wander too far. I once had to do this with a spare rooster as I didn't have a spare pen, then I realised I couldn't keep him so sent him to the table instead. He was a working bird and it was incredible how much that week-and-an-half of confinement softened the meat.

  8. naakte

    naakte Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2011
    Branson, missouri
    Gee this all sounds so good, I bought my birds for meant and eggs....... the problem is i got day old chicks to start with and it turns my stomach to cook chicken from even the freezer now. Chicken has always been my favorite meat, God gave us the right to eat meant after the flood, I would like to get over whatever is wrong with me and get back to eating chicken.

    Donna in Branson
  9. DenverBird

    DenverBird Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 8, 2010
    West Denver Burbs
    Quote:Oh gosh, now you've got me wondering what a career behind a desk will do.....

    [​IMG] --DB
  10. ShadyHoller

    ShadyHoller Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 12, 2010
    Willamette Valley
    Like everyone who posted before, resting an older bird is essential. Four days in the fridge. I've had good results doing it after the bird thawed, also. To explain: we were in a hurry to get some turkeys in the freezer shortly after slaughter, and we didn't give them any time to rest. But a couple months later, we took them out, let them thaw, and then gave them three days in the fridge, and the meat quality was just as good as if we had rested them before they went in the freezer.

    On the topic of age: everyone has a different opinion about when a bird is too old to do anything with aside from stewing. I have no problem with older birds, and will even bbq them, hot and fast. One person's idea of tough is another person's idea of "tastes like chicken."

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