Why was my 4 month old Pullet Broiler Tough?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by IndianaHomestea, Feb 7, 2013.

  1. IndianaHomestea

    IndianaHomestea Out Of The Brooder

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    So I have a flock of 4 month old RIR's and Light Brahma's. I'm only going to keep 4-6 of them as layers, so the rest will be broilers. They are all from Strambergs, so of course they weren't really bread to be meat birds.

    I got impatient and curious, so I decided to go ahead and butcher one of the Light Brahma's today. It's only the second chicken I've ever butchered, so limited experience.

    The first one I did was an old hen and it turned out to be really tough, as expected. But this one I expected to be tender. It was the same!

    It wasn't very big ... not much meat on it's bones and my wife baked it for 45 minutes at 400 degrees. The meat isn't dry at all, but it's just really tough... doesn't fall off the bone like the baked birds you buy at the store.

    I remember hearing before that some people will hang their birds upside down for a while after slaughtering. Is that something that I should be doing? Is there anything else that I did or didn't do that might have made this bird so tough?
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2013
  2. zazouse

    zazouse Overrun With Chickens

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    How long did you let it rest before you cooked it? i usually wait a few days before i cook mine.
     
  3. IndianaHomestea

    IndianaHomestea Out Of The Brooder

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    I had a feeling that's what I did wrong. I didn't let it rest at all. It was in the oven an hour after slaughter. So you just hang them upside down in the basement for a few days?
     
  4. 4-H chicken mom

    4-H chicken mom Overrun With Chickens

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    That is why it was tough. Rigor mortis sets in after killing and it has to be given time to relax. I let mine set in the fridge for at least 3 days before freezing or cooking. :drool
     
  5. IndianaHomestea

    IndianaHomestea Out Of The Brooder

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    ok, thanks alot for the info! I remember someone saying she would let them hang in her basement for a few days. Do they need to stay in the fridge or would a 60 degree basement work? I'm just thinking of when I do them all within a few days... I'll have 20+ chickens, which wouldn't fit in the fridge.
     
  6. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    To hang a bird to age your temperature should not be 60F; clostridia and e. coli bacteria form very rapidly once you get to about 60°F. 50-55F is ideal and hang them for minimum of 3 days with feathers on then dry pluck. Hanging a bird without feathers renders the skin unusable as it dries out. Pheasants and older birds render excellent flavors with this method and taste panels prefered 9 days at 50F over 4 days at 55F or 18 days at 41F. If it's not practical for you maintain 55F in your basement then I suggest investing in a used refrigerator to store your plucked and bagged birds to rest after butchering.
     
  7. PotterWatch

    PotterWatch My Patronus is a Chicken

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    We let ours sit in an ice bath in a cooler for a couple days.
     
  8. zazouse

    zazouse Overrun With Chickens

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    You can freeze them after slaughter and they will be fine to cook after you thaw them out as it takes a couple days to do that unless you thaw them in the sink which is a bad idea unless your home is really cool
     
  9. Baybrio

    Baybrio Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Because I send mine away to be processed I get back frozen birds the next day. In my limited experience I've found the cornish cross birds are just fine when cooked immediately after thawing in the refrigerator. The freedom rangers and the other home grown cockerals are a bit better if I let them sit in the fridge a couple of days after they thaw. On the other hand the crock pot or soup pot makes any of them fall off the bone!
     
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    The difference in texture is due to age. Those broilers are 6 to 8 weeks old and are tender as can be. They are too young to have toughened up. To get any meat on them at all regular chickens have to be a lot older so they are a lot tougher.

    Different people have different ideals of what tough means. Someone used to the broilers from the store will think that practically any regular older chicken is tough, but they just have better texture to me. Point of this is that different ones of us have different expectations. I’m ok with frying a 16 week old chicken. To my wife that is so tough and chewy it’s inedible.

    The secret to cooking a chicken is to cook it according to its age. The older it is the slower it needs to be cooked and the more moisture it needs while cooking. 400 degrees! Wow! 325 is more like it and make sure it does not dry out.

    I never age my chickens before I freeze them. They go in the freezer the day I process them. They thaw in the refrigerator for a couple of days before I cook them so they may age a bit then, but often they have ice crystals in them and are not totally thawed when I cook them. Aging, especially in brine in the refrigerator, does tenderize it some. There are different ways to do it. You need to find one that suits you and your family.

    There are several ways to cook an older bird. Coq au vin is the traditional French way to cook an old rooster but be careful where you get your recipe. Way too many recipes on the internet and in modern cookbooks are set up for those babies you buy at the store, not the true old roosters.

    Next time you process a bird, try it this way regardless of age. Cut in into serving pieces. Put it in a crock pot with a bay leaf, about 10 peppercorns, a rough chopped onion, carrot, and celery, and somewhere between a teaspoon and a tablespoon of oregano and basil depending on your tastes. Cover with water and cook on low for 8 hours. A tender young bird may not need to go quite that long. For an old old bird you might want to go 10 hours. Experiment a little and find out what works for you.
     
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