Chicken Tender?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by elliemaeg, Jul 14, 2005.

  1. elliemaeg

    elliemaeg Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My DH and I have raised chickens for many years. Mainly for the enjoyment plus eggs. A few years ago we decided to raise chickens for meat. We raised some and they were so tough no matter how we prepared them that we couldn't eat them.

    Anyone know if there is a type of chicken or perhaps a certain type of feed to make them tender enough to eat. I know this is a ignorant question but we honestly don't know. Please help. Thanks
     
  2. LittleJohn

    LittleJohn Well-Known Member

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    Did you chill them overnight before eating or freezing them? If not that is your answer!
     

  3. Paula

    Paula Well-Known Member

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    We chill them in the fridge for 3-4 days before cooking or freezing them.
     
  4. blufford

    blufford Well-Known Member Supporter

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    There are some growers who have theorized that chilling them too fast after slaughter causes the muscles to contract and therefore makes a tough chicken. Some disagree. Here is a link to the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, Small Scale Poultry Processing in Arkansas. I have seen other sites like these and recall one from KY that was really good.

    http://www.attra.org/attra-pub/poultryprocess.html
     
  5. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    What variety of chickens did you have and how old when you had them butchered?
     
  6. akmyilee

    akmyilee Well-Known Member

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    :baby04:

    curious bout this too...........will keep watching
     
  7. sylvar

    sylvar Well-Known Member

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    My birds are (now) always super tender and juicy. Here is a bit of a checklist for how I get tender birds:
    1) I raise cornish cross broilers. The dual purpose birds are going be a little tougher.

    2)Process them at around 7 weeks of age. This can only be done with the Cornish cross and a couple of other meat crosses. The earlier you can process the more tender they will be

    3)I make every effort to keep them calm during processing. A spooked bird has a lot of adrenalin in its system which makes the meat a little tougher. I chop the heads and when I first started raising meat birds I got a lot of advice about holding the birds upside down and letting them flap until they calmed down. I got much more tender birds when I started picking the bird up, stroking its head to calm it, then calmly placing the head under a bent nail on the stump while taking the legs in the other hand. I can usually chop with out so much as a flap this way. until after the chop of course....then the usual scene happens, but the adrenal glands are no longer attached to the body.

    4) Chill in the fridge for 48 hours after processing. The reason you chill is to let the rigor mortis process complete. The higher the temperature the quicker it happens. You are doing the same with wild meat (deer, rabbit)when you hang it before cutting it up.

    Hope this is helpful

    Shane
     
  8. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

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    I am not a chicken biologist by any means, but I know with humans, the adrenal glands are rignt next to the kidneys. Unless you gut the bird while it is still flopping, the kidneys are still very much attached when the head comes off. Maybe with chickens, the adrenal glands are up by the head, I dunno.......
     
  9. Michael W. Smith

    Michael W. Smith Well-Known Member

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    Range free birds tend to be tougher than those penned up. But what I have found to be the easiest way to get tender, juicy chicken is to cook 'em in a crockpot. We bought a 6 quart crockpot (and some of those chickens almost don't fit in, so buy the biggest you can!). Cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 8 - 10 hours, and the meat falls off the bone. It's also a very easy way of cooking, as you aren't heating up the whole entire kitchen by turning on the stove! Give that a try and let us know what you think.
     
  10. sylvar

    sylvar Well-Known Member

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    Wandering Oak,
    You are absolutely correct. Hmmmm...I admit that I was giving my (now proven incorrect) assumtions about why that method has produced much better results for me. I stand by the method though. Before I switched I had never gotten consistently tender birds. I came to notice that the birds who struggled more were much tougher This was a chance observation...I can't usually tell one bird from another in the freezer, but I had several at the end of one batch who struggled more than the rest and I just happened to change color of the bag ties. A poultry inspector I know suggested that it was an excess of adrenaline in their systems. Perhaps it is that the brain can no longer trigger the release of adrenaline?

    Shane
     
  11. elliemaeg

    elliemaeg Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks for all the good information. I will try this method next time.
     
  12. LittleJohn

    LittleJohn Well-Known Member

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    If your not familiar wiht Joel Salatin and his pastured poultry book/videoes you should at least get his book before raiseing chickens for meat.
     
  13. VALENT

    VALENT Well-Known Member

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    I dont doubt that all the "adrenaline" and such have some impact but the largest contributor to the tenderness of the chicken is going to be the breed (whether it is a meat bird) and the age at harvest(chickens bred to grow fast get old very fast.) This is not to say that egg breeds can not be tender but if you are raising chickens to eat, it is well worth it to start with the correct genetics and grow them out as fast as they are supposed to be. If you are looking to use other breeds, just accept the meat for the best you can do.