heritage meat bird question

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
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SW Michigan
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I’ve never tried the resting method. What if you want to freeze them? Should you rest in the fridge before freezing?
14 weeks for my layer breed cockerels.......rest the cleaned carcass in fridge for at least 2-3 days before cooking or freezing to avoid to tough to eat. Older birds rest longer.
Resting the carcass is pretty important, until rigor mortis passes out of the muscle.
 

NanaKat

Crossing the Road
Premium member
11 Years
Feb 28, 2009
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Meeker, Ok 20+chicken years
I raise Heritage dual purpose Columbian Wyandotte.
The culling process produces diverse ages of birds.
Pullets and cockerels, and old hens or cocks are used the same.

Friers are harvested at 10 to 16 weeks depending on size and cooking process. For the frying pan or the grill, birds are plucked and rested for two days in the refrigerator.

Young roasters are harvested between 16 weeks and 24 weeks
These are plucked and then rested 2 to 3 days.

Older roasters are harvested at 8 to 10 months.
Again, these are plucked and then rested 2 to three days and then marinated or brined.

Anything over that age are skinned and then processed for canning. Breast and thigh meat are copiously trimmed in large chunks. Pieces are packed into pint jars with a 1/2 tsp of canning salt. A pressure cooker is used at 11 pounds of pressure for 90 minutes. The meat produces its own juices.

The bones and remaining pieces are covered with water and slowly boiled until the meat falls off the bones. I like to add an onion large chop, 2 celery ribs and a peeled carrot to the 4 gallon stewing pot. I strain the broth, skim off and save most of the fat. The broth is jarred in quart jars with a teaspoon of canning salt and canned at 11 pounds of pressure for 45 minutes.
I separate the meat from the bones and make chicken and noodle for my family. This meat can be fed to my dogs or back to the chickens. I dispose of the bones.
The reserved fat is boiled in distilled water, cooled and then separated. It is then chilled in the refrigerator in a quart measuring cup. Some can be labeled and frozen for later use.
Great for frying potatoes and seasoning soup.
 

jermoatc

Songster
9 Years
Feb 5, 2011
238
78
171
Lake Crystal, MN
I raise Heritage dual purpose Columbian Wyandotte.
The culling process produces diverse ages of birds.
Pullets and cockerels, and old hens or cocks are used the same.

Friers are harvested at 10 to 16 weeks depending on size and cooking process. For the frying pan or the grill, birds are plucked and rested for two days in the refrigerator.

Young roasters are harvested between 16 weeks and 24 weeks
These are plucked and then rested 2 to 3 days.

Older roasters are harvested at 8 to 10 months.
Again, these are plucked and then rested 2 to three days and then marinated or brined.

Anything over that age are skinned and then processed for canning. Breast and thigh meat are copiously trimmed in large chunks. Pieces are packed into pint jars with a 1/2 tsp of canning salt. A pressure cooker is used at 11 pounds of pressure for 90 minutes. The meat produces its own juices.

The bones and remaining pieces are covered with water and slowly boiled until the meat falls off the bones. I like to add an onion large chop, 2 celery ribs and a peeled carrot to the 4 gallon stewing pot. I strain the broth, skim off and save most of the fat. The broth is jarred in quart jars with a teaspoon of canning salt and canned at 11 pounds of pressure for 45 minutes.
I separate the meat from the bones and make chicken and noodle for my family. This meat can be fed to my dogs or back to the chickens. I dispose of the bones.
The reserved fat is boiled in distilled water, cooled and then separated. It is then chilled in the refrigerator in a quart measuring cup. Some can be labeled and frozen for later use.
Great for frying potatoes and seasoning soup.
Wow! That is very helpful. Thanks.
 

Ridgerunner

Free Ranging
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
24,324
12,635
707
Southeast Louisiana
I don't roast, grill, or fry mine so I can't help you with that. There are three different possible "treatments" for the meat.

Aging is where you let rigor mortis pass. If you cook them fast enough after butchering rigor mortis doesn't set up. How long that takes sort of depends on the temperature but it doesn't take real long. How long it can take to pass can vary too so I'm not going to give you a time. But if you try to wiggle a leg and it feels at all stiff, wait some more. You need to keep the meat below 50 degrees Fahrenheit to keep bacteria from growing. That could be in your refrigerator or maybe a chest of ice water. Butcher and clean it before aging. It's easier and it cools off faster.

Brining is where you soak it in a salty mixture. The meat you buy at the grocery store is probably brined. The salt adds some flavor, though you can do that when you are cooking it if you wish. The main thing brining does is that it causes the meat to hold moisture. If you are going to cook it with a wet method, like a crock pot, pressure cooker, or soup, it's not very important. But if you are going to grill, fry, or roast it can help a lot.

Marinading is where the meat is soaked in an acidic solution, often wine or vinegar. Like all the other steps this can add flavor, depending in what you put in the marinade, but the main purpose is to tenderize the meat. The acid breaks down the fiber to make it more tender. The stronger the marinade and the longer it is marinaded the more the fiber breaks down. If you marinade a young bird too long it can turn mushy. But a proper marinade in wine is a key part of how the French turn a tough old rooster into a tender tasty Coq au Vin. With the French you know it has to involve wine.

When Mom made chicken and dumplings with an old hen she did not do any of this. She'd tell me to get one. I'd pluck and gut one and give it to her. She did not age, brine or marinade it, she cooked it immediately. That was real comfort food.

For your methods, I'd suggest aging it until rigor has passed in a fairly weak brining solution. If you marinade it, say with barbecue sauce, don't overdo it as far as timing goes. It may take you a bit of trial and error to get it where you want it, but you can do that.
 

jermoatc

Songster
9 Years
Feb 5, 2011
238
78
171
Lake Crystal, MN
I don't roast, grill, or fry mine so I can't help you with that. There are three different possible "treatments" for the meat.

Aging is where you let rigor mortis pass. If you cook them fast enough after butchering rigor mortis doesn't set up. How long that takes sort of depends on the temperature but it doesn't take real long. How long it can take to pass can vary too so I'm not going to give you a time. But if you try to wiggle a leg and it feels at all stiff, wait some more. You need to keep the meat below 50 degrees Fahrenheit to keep bacteria from growing. That could be in your refrigerator or maybe a chest of ice water. Butcher and clean it before aging. It's easier and it cools off faster.

Brining is where you soak it in a salty mixture. The meat you buy at the grocery store is probably brined. The salt adds some flavor, though you can do that when you are cooking it if you wish. The main thing brining does is that it causes the meat to hold moisture. If you are going to cook it with a wet method, like a crock pot, pressure cooker, or soup, it's not very important. But if you are going to grill, fry, or roast it can help a lot.

Marinading is where the meat is soaked in an acidic solution, often wine or vinegar. Like all the other steps this can add flavor, depending in what you put in the marinade, but the main purpose is to tenderize the meat. The acid breaks down the fiber to make it more tender. The stronger the marinade and the longer it is marinaded the more the fiber breaks down. If you marinade a young bird too long it can turn mushy. But a proper marinade in wine is a key part of how the French turn a tough old rooster into a tender tasty Coq au Vin. With the French you know it has to involve wine.

When Mom made chicken and dumplings with an old hen she did not do any of this. She'd tell me to get one. I'd pluck and gut one and give it to her. She did not age, brine or marinade it, she cooked it immediately. That was real comfort food.

For your methods, I'd suggest aging it until rigor has passed in a fairly weak brining solution. If you marinade it, say with barbecue sauce, don't overdo it as far as timing goes. It may take you a bit of trial and error to get it where you want it, but you can do that.
Question: if you freeze a bird right away can you thaw it out and then age it? or is it too late?
 

Kabootar

Songster
Aug 15, 2017
305
760
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Bihar India
Those of you who raise heritage breeds (not crosses or broiler type) at what age do you harvest the cockerels? All the ones I've ever tried end up being very tough unless i crock pot them for many many hours. What breeds do you prefer and why?
Oh I keep many heritage breeds for meat, even though I grow Cornish cross chickens. I keep the heritage breeds both for eggs and for capons as they fetch atleast three times the price of a broiler cross kilogram to kilogram. I caponize most of the dual purpose breeds like RIR, Rocks, Wyandottes, Dorking, Brahma, barnyard mutts, landrace and my favourite Jersey giants. I caponize them at the age of 5 to 9 weeks and sell them at the age of 21 to 30 weeks.

People in my country don't eat frozen meat, that's not a concept. They either buy fresh meat from the local butcher or directly buy from a farmer like me and then they process the bird at home before they cook. Before the arrival of Cornish cross only poor people ate intact roosters and they are often called "a sad meal" or "famine meal". I myself have not eaten an intact heritage rooster in a longtime.
 
Last edited:

jolenesdad

Free Ranging
Premium member
Apr 12, 2015
2,282
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Montgomery, TX
What temp do you recommend roasting?
Heritage birds? 300 or even lower. I would also experiment with roasting breast down in like a dutch oven, especially if you don't care about skin. The legs and thighs of a heritage bird will take a little longer than the breast to cook, and if you cook it upside down, the breast will stay WAY more moist.

In addition since you say you want to roast, I would really, really suggest brining the bird. The thing that brining does for me is allows more wiggle room. you can roast the bird for longer without drying it out, because the meat has more moisture in it.

A meat thermometer is your friend for sure. The goal with an older bird is to have the connective tissue of the leg dissolve and the leg bone be able to separate from the bird in the oven by the time the leg and thigh meat reaches about 160 degrees. Then you can pull the bird, let it rest to reach final temp, and, it should be tender and delicious.

Also, there's a chart somewhere I will try and look for it about how long fresh meat is good at various temperatures before spoilage. I think 34-36 degrees in a fridge and the meat is good for 14+ days or something like that. I rested my last heritage birds for 3-4 days at least before freezing.
 
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