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Fresh killed bird - delicious but tough.

Fresh killed bird - delicious but tough.
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  • Fresh killed bird - delicious but tough.

    Post #1 - May 22nd, 2010, 11:56 am
    Post #1 - May 22nd, 2010, 11:56 am Post #1 - May 22nd, 2010, 11:56 am
    Last night I made doro wat, which turned out great, but had some problems with the chicken. I picked up a chicken from Chicago Live Poultry at 6421 N Western Ave, a place I frequent every now and then. They guy asked me in Arabic whether I wanted a large or small chicken. I answered large.

    They expertly skinned and chopped the chicken for me, giving me all the innards. I proceeded to make my doro wat by browning the chicken, then stewing for about an hour and a half. By that point most of the dark meat had started to fall off the bones, but the white meat was still in tact. Everything tasted great - the bird had great chicken flavor and was perfectly fresh, but the breast meat was tough. Really tough.

    So two possible places I f'd up:

    1) I didn't cook the chicken right. I was messing with the size of the flame, don't know if I browned it right, etc, didn't cook it long enough (even though the dark meat basically fell apart).

    2) I bought an old bird. The word for large or big in Arabic is sometimes the same as for old. Maybe the Somali guy I was talking to just didn't get that I wanted a bigger, not older bird. And older birds are tougher, right?

    Any thoughts? I love fresh killed chickens, I just need to work on preparing them properly. This has never happened to me with crap chicken I buy from wherever. And if I do end up with an older, tougher bird, what do I have to do to prepare it so that its tender and succulent?
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #2 - May 22nd, 2010, 12:05 pm
    Post #2 - May 22nd, 2010, 12:05 pm Post #2 - May 22nd, 2010, 12:05 pm
    How long after they killed the chicken did you take it off the bone (assuming you did)? I'm thinking rigor mortis...
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #3 - May 22nd, 2010, 12:14 pm
    Post #3 - May 22nd, 2010, 12:14 pm Post #3 - May 22nd, 2010, 12:14 pm
    I didn't take the meat off the bones, but I cooked with the chicken 45 minutes after it was killed.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #4 - May 22nd, 2010, 12:48 pm
    Post #4 - May 22nd, 2010, 12:48 pm Post #4 - May 22nd, 2010, 12:48 pm
    Don't take my word for this, but I'd try letting the chicken rest 4-6 hours (at least, maybe 12 hours+) after being killed before you start cooking it.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #5 - May 22nd, 2010, 1:19 pm
    Post #5 - May 22nd, 2010, 1:19 pm Post #5 - May 22nd, 2010, 1:19 pm
    I remembered reading something about this in The Joy of Cooking, and went to look it up:

    "That poultry served immediately after slaughtering is not a delicacy was brought home to me early when my father and I would go ... [ snip ... relating of unpleasant childhood memory ... snip]. The less said about that lunch the better. So we learned that quick cooling and hanging in a cool place from 8 to 24 hours will avoid stringiness and develop flavor."
    "I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today."
  • Post #6 - May 22nd, 2010, 8:06 pm
    Post #6 - May 22nd, 2010, 8:06 pm Post #6 - May 22nd, 2010, 8:06 pm
    I spent summers on my grandparemts' farm in OH. Often Sunday dinner was chicken, which had been killed in the morning (quite a sight, too). I don't recall it was anything other than tasty and tender, although that is viewed through a 50-year prism.
  • Post #7 - May 23rd, 2010, 6:26 pm
    Post #7 - May 23rd, 2010, 6:26 pm Post #7 - May 23rd, 2010, 6:26 pm
    The only thing I can think of is that white meat cooks faster than dark meat, so maybe if the dark meat was falling off the bone tender, then the breast meat was well over-cooked at that point.
  • Post #8 - May 23rd, 2010, 7:40 pm
    Post #8 - May 23rd, 2010, 7:40 pm Post #8 - May 23rd, 2010, 7:40 pm
    gleam wrote:Don't take my word for this, but I'd try letting the chicken rest 4-6 hours (at least, maybe 12 hours+) after being killed before you start cooking it.


    I've been told the same thing. Certain muscles in fowl can experience a reaction similar to rigor mortis immediately after the slaughter. I've been told to let a bird rest at least 12 hours.

    Best,
    Michael

    Edited to fix my dumb spelling mistake. I was drunk. I'm a good speller. Really.
    Last edited by eatchicago on May 24th, 2010, 7:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #9 - May 23rd, 2010, 8:19 pm
    Post #9 - May 23rd, 2010, 8:19 pm Post #9 - May 23rd, 2010, 8:19 pm
    I've also heard of (and experienced) freshly killed chickens being tough. Another thing to note is that if the bird is very freshly killed ,be careful not to overcook it since the flesh is starting at 100° F rather than 40.
    Not a glutton, a patron of the culinary arts.
  • Post #10 - May 23rd, 2010, 9:52 pm
    Post #10 - May 23rd, 2010, 9:52 pm Post #10 - May 23rd, 2010, 9:52 pm
    Thanks for the replies everyone. Based on your responses and some internet research the solution seems to be to let the bird rest for 8 or more hours. The bird tasted damn fine though. Damn fine.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #11 - May 24th, 2010, 4:00 pm
    Post #11 - May 24th, 2010, 4:00 pm Post #11 - May 24th, 2010, 4:00 pm
    Your typical Purdue or grocery store 'fryer' size is raised in a cage where it cannot move very much and if I remember correct is about 6 weeks old when slaughtered. Larger chickens are of course older and if raised where they can move, they will be tougher. Of course thier is some wisdom in wating until after rigor has passed. I get chcikens from Johns' and they are freshly killed for me, so I bring a cooler with ice which i pack in and around the bird to chill it.
    I use Johns' when I cannot find a local source for barn yard raised chickens.-Dick
  • Post #12 - May 24th, 2010, 4:31 pm
    Post #12 - May 24th, 2010, 4:31 pm Post #12 - May 24th, 2010, 4:31 pm
    What/where is Johns?
  • Post #13 - May 24th, 2010, 6:07 pm
    Post #13 - May 24th, 2010, 6:07 pm Post #13 - May 24th, 2010, 6:07 pm
    Fresh Farms Niles had a frozen something they called a "stewing chicken" - a whole bird, head, feet and all which reminded me distinctly of Miss Prissy in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons. I couldn't resist such a specimen, long and lean though it was, so I brought it home and tossed it in a pot for an hour or so.

    An hour wasn't near enough. Every bit of the meat was too tough to chew, in the way that silver skin on pork ribs is impossible to chew unless cooked to goo. It did, however, make the absolute best, silky, rich broth I ever had (although the sight of the head and its comb flopping about in the pot really grossed Sparky out.) I still can't believe how tough it was, though - I was mentally picturing this bird doing aerobics and zoomba before it met its demise.
  • Post #14 - May 24th, 2010, 6:40 pm
    Post #14 - May 24th, 2010, 6:40 pm Post #14 - May 24th, 2010, 6:40 pm
    Mhays,

    The broth will be even better with a completely cooked bird...more like 3+ hours and worth the wait.

    :twisted:
    "Use plenty of onions.They're very cheap!" ...Otto Svenson
  • Post #15 - May 24th, 2010, 6:50 pm
    Post #15 - May 24th, 2010, 6:50 pm Post #15 - May 24th, 2010, 6:50 pm
    HI,

    I believe your stewing chicken was once a laying hen. Those can be as old as six years and mighty tough, though very good once slowly cooked.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #16 - May 24th, 2010, 7:44 pm
    Post #16 - May 24th, 2010, 7:44 pm Post #16 - May 24th, 2010, 7:44 pm
    Evil Ronnie wrote:Mhays,

    The broth will be even better with a completely cooked bird...more like 3+ hours and worth the wait.

    :twisted:


    After unsuccessfully trying to saw the leg meat off the bones with our teeth, we returned Miss Prissy to the pot and I think got her going for 4 hours or so. She never did loosen up, but the broth was spectacular.
  • Post #17 - May 24th, 2010, 7:59 pm
    Post #17 - May 24th, 2010, 7:59 pm Post #17 - May 24th, 2010, 7:59 pm
    Mhays wrote:Fresh Farms Niles had a frozen something they called a "stewing chicken" - a whole bird, head, feet and all which reminded me distinctly of Miss Prissy in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons. I couldn't resist such a specimen, long and lean though it was, so I brought it home and tossed it in a pot for an hour or so.

    An hour wasn't near enough. Every bit of the meat was too tough to chew, in the way that silver skin on pork ribs is impossible to chew unless cooked to goo. It did, however, make the absolute best, silky, rich broth I ever had (although the sight of the head and its comb flopping about in the pot really grossed Sparky out.) I still can't believe how tough it was, though - I was mentally picturing this bird doing aerobics and zoomba before it met its demise.

    Thanks for checking this out and reporting because I've been wondering about those.... I have made some awfully good broth lately with a stewing hen plus chicken feet and gizzards from Fresh Farms in Niles. But I bought the regular stewing hen (not frozen and certainly already beheaded). I'll have to try Miss P one of these days--when it cools down again!
  • Post #18 - May 24th, 2010, 8:08 pm
    Post #18 - May 24th, 2010, 8:08 pm Post #18 - May 24th, 2010, 8:08 pm
    Darren72 wrote:What/where is Johns?

    Pick your bird, they'll butcher it for you immediately. Lots of squawking involved.

    John's Live Poultry
    5955 West Fullerton Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60639-2240
    (773) 622-2813
  • Post #19 - May 24th, 2010, 8:48 pm
    Post #19 - May 24th, 2010, 8:48 pm Post #19 - May 24th, 2010, 8:48 pm
    Wow - apparently John's is 10 min from my house and I never knew it was there.
  • Post #20 - May 24th, 2010, 9:31 pm
    Post #20 - May 24th, 2010, 9:31 pm Post #20 - May 24th, 2010, 9:31 pm
    On the tough chicken front - I consulted my moms, who frequents John's and the other live poultry places in Chicago almost every time she makes a chicken dish. She insisted that the reason my bird was tough was because it was older, not because I didn't let it rest. I am a bit skeptical because this contradicts a lot of what I've read online and of course what you all have told me, but she and my dad claim that they've cooked birds right after being killed and toughness wasn't a problem. Next time I go to Chicago Live Poultry or Aden Live Poultry (at 2731 W. Lawrence, the sign just says "pollo en vivo" and the equivalent in other languages, including Vietnamese I believe), I'll talk to the butchers and see what the story is according to them.

    John's, by the way, has some fantastic poultry. We always get our Turkey's from them during Thanksgiving and they've also got great ducks. Slightly pricey, but worth it. As for the level of squaking, its definitely no joke and combined with the smell it makes for a shopping trip that is not for the squeamish. I once dragged my girlfriend out to John's and made her wait in line for 30 minutes. She was mortified and won't go near any of the live poultry places. Me, I accompanied my grandmother to Aden Live Poultry a few times a month for about 12 years before it became hard for her to leave the house. I got over the smell and noise pretty quickly.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #21 - May 25th, 2010, 6:09 pm
    Post #21 - May 25th, 2010, 6:09 pm Post #21 - May 25th, 2010, 6:09 pm
    Mhays wrote:Fresh Farms Niles had a frozen something they called a "stewing chicken" - a whole bird, head, feet and all which reminded me distinctly of Miss Prissy in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons. I couldn't resist such a specimen, long and lean though it was, so I brought it home and tossed it in a pot for an hour or so.

    An hour wasn't near enough. Every bit of the meat was too tough to chew, in the way that silver skin on pork ribs is impossible to chew unless cooked to goo. It did, however, make the absolute best, silky, rich broth I ever had (although the sight of the head and its comb flopping about in the pot really grossed Sparky out.) I still can't believe how tough it was, though - I was mentally picturing this bird doing aerobics and zoomba before it met its demise.


    Your frozen bird was prepared for the Oriental market which actually prefers everything
    live because of the cultural history of lack of refrigreration.
    I avoid ANY frozen poultry.
    We have been obtaining our Thanksgiving bird for many years now from John's after our local supplier of fresh birds ended up in the 'clink'. Call and reserve your bird before hand and they give you a number. If you want it killed while you wait, let them know but bring a cooler and ice because you must cool the bird down ASAP and a turkey is a lot to cool. Certainly beats Butterball or any artificially enhanced bird on the market.-Dick
  • Post #22 - May 7th, 2011, 6:31 pm
    Post #22 - May 7th, 2011, 6:31 pm Post #22 - May 7th, 2011, 6:31 pm
    Picked up a whole fryer a few weeks ago from John's. "Polly"weighed about 6.5 lbs with head, feet, giblets.
    Image


    Butterflied on top of a stuffing of mild pork sausage, sage, sauteed onion, garlic, zest of two lemons, white wine.
    Image


    Out of oven
    Image


    Plated:
    Image

    Polly was a bit chewy as others have noted above.

    John's sells roosters in case you wanted to make Coq au Vin. Sadly no bunnies that day, which is why I went there in the first place.
    i used to milk cows
  • Post #23 - May 7th, 2011, 8:47 pm
    Post #23 - May 7th, 2011, 8:47 pm Post #23 - May 7th, 2011, 8:47 pm
    Good lord that looks good
    It is VERY important to be smart when you're doing something stupid

    - Chris

    http://stavewoodworking.com
  • Post #24 - May 8th, 2011, 6:55 am
    Post #24 - May 8th, 2011, 6:55 am Post #24 - May 8th, 2011, 6:55 am
    Update: since this thread was resurrected, my local supplier has been in business again and we are getting chickens, mallards and Pekin ducks from him. I couldn't get a turkey last year because he was sold out.
    The chickens are about 8#'s and just about as tender as a grocery store bird but the joints are much harder to get through, there is also no water that is released when cooking, a fine bird. John's chickens are just about as good. The local ducks are superlative.
    Find a live market or a local farmer and you will reduce your purchase of grocery store birds to when you can't get a farm raised one.-Dick
  • Post #25 - May 8th, 2011, 7:54 pm
    Post #25 - May 8th, 2011, 7:54 pm Post #25 - May 8th, 2011, 7:54 pm
    :)

    Good to know that John's does rabbits now and then...I've been jonesing to do a really good lapin au moutarde for a while.

    :)
  • Post #26 - May 8th, 2011, 8:07 pm
    Post #26 - May 8th, 2011, 8:07 pm Post #26 - May 8th, 2011, 8:07 pm
    teatpuller wrote:Picked up a whole fryer a few weeks ago from John's. "Polly"weighed about 6.5 lbs with head, feet, giblets.
    Image


    Butterflied on top of a stuffing of mild pork sausage, sage, sauteed onion, garlic, zest of two lemons, white wine.
    Image


    Out of oven
    Image


    Plated:
    Image

    Polly was a bit chewy as others have noted above.

    John's sells roosters in case you wanted to make Coq au Vin. Sadly no bunnies that day, which is why I went there in the first place.



    Tell me you didn't throw away those feet!
    :mrgreen:
  • Post #27 - May 8th, 2011, 8:54 pm
    Post #27 - May 8th, 2011, 8:54 pm Post #27 - May 8th, 2011, 8:54 pm
    No, they are frozen for stock I guess. Not sure what else to do with two chicken feet.
    i used to milk cows

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