Potential Problem in Processing


10 Years
Sep 1, 2010
Long Island, NY
Hello all, earlier this summer (roughly 7 weeks ago) I purchased broiler chicks for the first time, and just processed the first half of them yesterday. I put them in ice water afterwards as all the guides recommend - but I am afraid i removed and froze them too quickly. I misunderstood and thought they old had to be in the ice/fridge for a few hours not until rigor mortis had completely passed. My question is should I thaw them now until rigor mortis passes? Just put them in the fridge now? Or what?
I always "rest" my chickens in the refridgerator for three days after butchering them. Since you skipped this stage, you can thaw them several days before you use them. For example, if you plan to roast a chicken for dinner on Wednesday, I'd take it out of the freezer Sunday night, let it thaw on the counter overnight and then put it in the refridgerator Monday morning and let it rest till you cook it Wednesday. It should be fine that way.
I never rest my chickens in the fridge or ice water for days before I freeze them. They go in the freezer the same day I butcher. I don’t raise the broilers that are processed at a few weeks, I raise dual purpose and process them anywhere from 4 months to 3 years of age. Normally I take one out on a Sunday and leave it in the fridge until Thursday when I cook it, it’s well thawed by then. But there have been times I forgot to take it out on Sunday and it still had some ice crystals in with it when I put it in the oven. They still came out fine.

Since I use older dual purpose birds I don’t grill or fry mine. They’d be way too tough no matter how long I aged them before freezing. I use different methods of cooking them slowly with moisture. Even a three year old rooster is not tough when I cook it. There are many different ways to cook these older chickens, stews, baking, crock pot, pressure cooker, they all work. Other than the pressure cooker which is very different, it involves cooking them slowly and with moisture. For a three year old rooster I normally put it in a covered baking dish with a little (a couple of tablespoons of water since the dish is tightly covered) and cook it at 250 degrees for about 4 hours. You’ll wind up with more liquid than you started with, liquid that is a great broth. If you stew it don’t let the water come to a full rolling boil, just simmer it slowly for several hours. Cooking them slowly is a key with older birds.

I understand your situation is different from mine. You have those very tender babies, not the more mature tougher meat I deal with. But I see no reason at all for you to panic or do anything silly that might endanger your family. You do not want to thaw and refreeze meat. I don’t know how you plan to cook it, probably grill or fry, but I suggest you try one and see how it comes out. You may find that they are fine, you may not. If you don’t like the way the first one comes out, change your cooking method to something slower and moister for the second one. If I can cook mine to where the meat is so tender it falls off the bone you can manage to cook yours. It just may take a bit of experimentation to find what works best for you. We all have different standards and tastes.

I would never leave a frozen chicken on the counter overnight to start thawing, all the health experts will advise against that. Take it out early enough and put it directly in your fridge so it is thawed when you want to use it. If you want to age it a couple of days after it is thawed, fine, just don’t overdo it. You can only keep thawed meat so long in a fridge.
I sort of have a similar question as the OPoster. My husband culled a 3 year old hen today that I want to use to make stock with.
This is our first time making stock from scratch and I am wondering if I need to ice brine or refrigerate 'rest' the bird for a few days 1st or just put her in the stock pot?
ALSO, am wondering if I can use a crock pot instead of the stock pot?
Sorry to piggy back your post, but thinking we're both kind of new you might have the same question down the road.
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I don’t brine them and I don’t rest them. I have chicken in the crock pot right now making broth. I’ll can it tomorrow. I put in a dozen peppercorns, a bay leaf, a rough chopped carrot, a rough chopped celery stalk, onion, garlic, basil, and oregano then cover with water and cook that overnight (12 to 14 hours, sometimes more) on low. If you notice I do not use salt here either.

I do not use the whole bird for broth. When I butcher a chicken I cut it into drumsticks, thighs, wishbone, and breasts. That’s the meat I cook for the table. I save the bones from that plus use the back, neck, wings, gizzard, heart and feet. That’s the chicken I put in the broth. Older chickens make the best broth but I use cockerels and pullets too.

Yes, I know where the feet have been. If you scald them without over-scalding the toenails twist off pretty easily and you can skin them. That’s gets them clean enough for me. Practically everyone will over-scald them though. Then the skin tears really easily and they are a pain to skin. I bring a pot of water to boil and drop the feet in for 15 to 18 seconds. That’s long enough. Cool them down to stop the cooking. It helps to have thumbnails when skinning the feet. I know most people are not going to use the feet. Can’t say as I blame them, I do know where those feet have been. The broth will still be good.

After the broth is done I pick through the residue, the bones, herbs, and veggies and pick out the meat. That cooked meat is great on tacos, in casseroles, or in chicken salad. I use it to make sandwiches for my lunch. Since you are cooking the entire hen you should wind up with a lot of cooked well-flavored meat. Be careful though, it’s easy to miss small bones. There are a lot of small bones in there.
I wish I would have seen the replies before I started this morning. I wanted to hurry up and get her started early and checkEd out the Martha Stewart and Weston videos and a recipe on All Recipes. They're all kind of different so I ended up sort of combining them.
The cooking and simmering times are all over the place and everything seems to show store bought chicken. They all talk about a surface scum and fat that's supposed to rise to the top. I got the fat but there's no scum. ??? Does that come later or is that a difference between a) breeds - she was a partridge rock b) store bought cross vs not or c) I did something wrong?
Here's what I've done so far - {side note, I couldn't bring myself to use the feet, head, or any of the motors. I'm still in the process of un-city-fying myself, so hopefully next time, or like the other person said I will give them to dogs. Thanks so much for explaining how to do it!}.

I put the chicken in a stock pot whole and covered her with filtered water. Hobo sacked 1 onion and 2 each of carrots & celery in cheese cloth, then added a bay leaf and another onion. Started to bring it all to a boil, but Martha Stewart said wait for the scum, so I removed all the veggies and brought to a boil. Waited 5 minutes, still no scum, just fat which I strained as much as I could out. Then aded the veggies back into the pot and simmered for 2 hours. Pulled the carcass out, took all the meat off, and returned the bones and skin back to the pot. It's been simmering now for about an hour, and still no scum.
Am I making stock or just a mess and wasted a chicken?
I don’t know why people go out of their way to make things complicated, especially the experts. Scum? What stinking scum? Why is scum important? Sorry to be frustrated but it isn’t this hard. I guess the experts have to justify how smart they are, at least in their own minds.

When you boil about anything a foam will often form on top. That’s how I can tell jelly is getting ready to boil, a foam starts to form on top. Same thing is true on practically anything I boil. That’s just the air bubbles coming up and picking up something in the way up to form a bubble. People will say that’s the impurities. There is nothing impure about it, it’s just stuff in there and perfectly safe to eat. I don’t get scum when I make broth but I may get foam on top.

I don’t know how tender that meat is. Simmering two hours it should be cooked but it might be a bit tough, I don’t know. Try it and see.

With the veggies, bones, and skin simmering together you are making broth. Let it simmer, covered so the liquid does not evaporate, for several hours. How long? I don’t know and I don’t think it matters that much. The longer it cooks without the liquid evaporating the better. More of the flavor will cook out of the bones and other stuff. I like a minimum of eight hours, others may go a lot less. I practically always cook mine overnight in a crock pot, 12 to 14 hours. The batch I just finished canning before I sat down here cooked for about 20 hours. I started it yesterday a little after lunch.

After I cook it I strain it through a wire mesh colander or strainer to get the big chunks out. Then I put it through a fat separator, something like this.


Then I strain it through a few layers of cheesecloth to get more of the bits out. You don’t have to strain it through cheese cloth, some people like those bits in the broth. You can always get into an argument if it is a broth or stock if you leave the bits in. I don’t care what you call it, I take those bits out. Some people leave them in.

That’s it. You can now use it, freeze it, or can it for later.
You're an awesome teacher and I am so appreciative! I was never taught to cook and used to just go out to eat before I got married, and my husband does the cooking. Now, we're trying the homestead way with a garden and our own chickens - I have even learned to caponize my cockerels.

I can totally understand why it might be frustrating - especially with the experts as I am too - but please know your help and explanations have been invaluable to me... like the old adage, teach a man to fish goes, that's what you've done today. :) And, next time I will do it in the crock pot.
P.s. hubby said the meat wasn't that tough. Bonus! Again, thanks so much for all your help. :)
Edited the next morning: It never went to gel after being in the fridge all night and there's only, what appears to be a thin line of fat stuck on the side of the stainless steel bowl. Maybe I will have better luck next time.
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