Letting Meat Rest

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by V-NH, Jul 22, 2013.

  1. V-NH

    V-NH Chirping

    146
    6
    83
    Mar 24, 2013
    New Hampshire
    So, I am about to process Cornish X on Thursday for the first time. I started with 25 and I will be processing 22. I lost a few because I forgot to close the pen one night and they invited themselves out and into the woods. Several never came back. I have read that you need to let them rest in the fridge for three days before they are edible in order to let rigor mortis run its course. I don't have the fridge space for that, so I am looking for ideas/alternative options. I recently bought a 25 cubic foot chest freezer for the sole purpose of storing chickens. Can I put them directly in there or do they absolutely have to sit, unfrozen, for three days first?
     
  2. chooks4life

    chooks4life Crowing

    4,905
    600
    296
    Apr 8, 2013
    Australia
    There's no actual NEED for them to rest before being eaten. It's like the opinion on letting wine breathe before drinking it, or just drinking it right after opening. Some will call you mad if you don't, they believe it's the only way, but others like it fresher than that.

    We don't like the idea of meat that's been sitting around for as long as a month after being culled, so we eat them immediately. Literally, as soon as it's processed, we're cooking it; culled and eaten the same day. They're only tough if it is their genetic predisposition to be so. A truly good meat bird or dual purpose bird will have juicy tender flesh. Other birds, like old layer breed roosters, are going to be insanely tough. But it's how you cook them that matters in those cases. With tender birds, it doesn't matter how you cook them, basically, they stay tender. We like open fire methods like spit roasts, also pressure cooker-done birds, and also like frying or baking, and found no real difference in texture other than the genetic muscle tissue differences.

    People sell birds as 'dual purpose' when really the breed (or their particular strain of the breed) has not been maintained to that standard, so you get halfway decent layers with tough flesh, because some people don't eat their own birds. If you do not eat your dual purpose birds but do breed them, you aren't maintaining the breed standard, because you don't know whether or not you're breeding tougher and drier fleshed birds down the generations. Dual purpose (DP) birds are meant to be of equal value in terms of laying and eating. I breed for DP characteristics, but I breed mongrels, however it all works. Overall now the majority of our birds are tender, juicy, no matter the age, and also the hens are good layers. If you eat layer only breeds, expect tough dry flesh no matter how you cook them, an resting them probably won't make a big difference either but might help a little.
     
  3. V-NH

    V-NH Chirping

    146
    6
    83
    Mar 24, 2013
    New Hampshire
    Interesting! I had no idea. So, I guess putting them directly into the freezer won't hurt them any? That is a relief.
     
  4. chooks4life

    chooks4life Crowing

    4,905
    600
    296
    Apr 8, 2013
    Australia
    We have put birds directly in the freezer after culling & processing on a few occasions due to not being able to cook it at that moment, and haven't had any issues. I believe it all comes down to a few things: the breed of the chook, how it was reared, and the person's preferences. Some people can't stand any meat that isn't falling off the bones. Some like it chewy. Many people won't eat an animal that wasn't hung or sat for days, weeks, even a month or more, but some are the opposite.

    I thought of something else that would have an impact: culling methods and the tameness or wildness of the bird.

    We believe the culled animal needs to be calm for reasons I will explain, and we won't cull one that's been distressed at any time in the day before culling.

    Stress releases several detrimental things into the system, from fear hormones to stored toxins in the organs, and this can wreak havoc on the flesh's quality and also its shelf life as it is basically digesting itself. These fear hormones begin digesting the yellow fat into immediately usable energy so it can fight or flee, among other biological reactions set off; many artificially/intensively reared chooks do not have yellow fat, they have hard white fat, which is not beneficial like soft yellow fats are.

    Also if the animal died badly enough its kidneys, liver etc can play a pretty big role in rendering it unfit to eat, hence the old beliefs that eating a strangled or drowned animal is bad enough to be forbidden. Having eaten some animals who died under less than calm circumstances, or were afflicted by injury or illness prior to being culled, I would not repeat it; the difference in flesh quality is very noticeable. You can also taste the diet in its flesh, its relative predominance of happiness or fear of its lifetime, etc, so we believe happy meat is healthy meat.

    This means that to achieve this, I work to breed calm, tame animals who can be handled without fear or fuss, so whether they need handling for treatment or culling, it is always a peaceful experience for all involved. It is near impossible to calmly cull an animal that has not learnt to trust humans, and the fear starts a chemical chain reaction that ruins the flesh. After eating home-grown, I find it very hard to stomach store-bought, which I used to love, because now I can strongly taste the death in them. Strange to say, but the rankness of store bought is just too hard to go back to. We're looking forward to being able to eat home grown chickens again, when we move to a larger property. We feed as naturally as possible too, which makes a big difference in flesh as opposed to a bird that was fed pellets and never free-ranged.

    But again, this will be like letting wine breathe; some won't notice or care. Some people around the world have always preferred their meat terribly distressed. In this case, the adrenaline and fear hormones would pre-digest the flesh and tissues so it's kinda like letting it sit, just accelerated and aggravated, I guess. Also you're using Cornish X's which are supposed to be great eating, but I've only ever eaten two, and after all the mix breeds I've eaten before and since, they don't stand out too much. Nice but not awesome. I prefer bantam mixes for eating, really. Whatever you choose, best wishes with it. ;)
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. ceeceeholt

    ceeceeholt Songster

    437
    19
    103
    Aug 17, 2011
    Alabama
    We prefer to let them rest about 24 to 36 hours in the frig, tried putting directly in the freezer and thought them to be tough, just our choice!
     
  6. chooks4life

    chooks4life Crowing

    4,905
    600
    296
    Apr 8, 2013
    Australia
    There's another thread that has a lot of posts, many pro-resting, that should be able to be found. That'll have a lot more info regarding resting meat. This thread's possibly not getting more answers because everybody recently addressed the same question. But most are pro-resting, despite my family's lack of caring about it. Best wishes.
     
  7. pfoster

    pfoster In the Brooder

    14
    0
    22
    Feb 15, 2013
    We process 50 birds at a time and cannot rest them in the fridge for 3 days. We are 100% solar so putting another fridge on the sytem isn't an option. We cool them completey after process in an ice bath. We then bag them and they go immediately into the chest freezer. We've seen no problems. I'm sure the slow freezing and thawing gives them the needed rest period.
     
  8. rswojo

    rswojo In the Brooder

    16
    1
    23
    Mar 10, 2013
    We chop their heads off, gut them and freeze them as quick as possible. By the time ours would get rigor mortis they are frozen. We raise ours to 17-19 weeks and they get exercise so they are roasting chickens and can't be cooked like the ones you buy in the store which never get any exercise. If you need chicken you can cook quickly and still wind up tender go to the store for chicken. That is the trade off with homegrown chicken, they need to be cooked slower because they use their muscles.

    Beef needs aging to dry and help tenderize the meat but the aging process is basically letting the meat rot just little bit at a cold temperature..
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2013
  9. BCMaraniac

    BCMaraniac Songster

    1,860
    229
    176
    Mar 27, 2013
    I agree that the freezing/slow thawing allows for the proper resting. After thawing.....if you move the leg, and the whole bird doesn't move......it is rested.
     
  10. jdywntr

    jdywntr Songster

    3,215
    150
    243
    Oct 31, 2009
    Somerville, AL
    I rest mine for a day or so before the freezer. It depends on what I've got going on.

    Why not try eating a fresh one, resting a few and right to the freezer with others? You have enough and if you mark it on the packaging, you can see if there is a difference.

    I have always read that you MUST rest the bird. I also watch a lot of cooking shows and many that are filmed in other countries. I always find it interesting that in other countries, a bird is butchered and goes right in the pot. Makes you wonder.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: