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butcher/eat chicken the same day or hang?

 
Cyndie Montoya
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I've heard you should let the chicken rest in the frig for a few days before eating it. We just butchered our first chickens this morning. All but one went into the freezer and that one seems to have rigamortis in the legs. Is it ok to eat?
 
John Polk
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The rule of thumb I have always heard is, if you can't start cooking within the first hour, it's best to wait a couple days.

 
Jay Green
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Yep...no need to rush things if you can help it.
 
David Hartley
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How old are they? Were they free-ranged or captive-raised?

The older they are, the longer you want to give them a "resting" period before freezing and/or eating...

If they were free-ranged AND are more than six months old, the legs/thighs will take longer to cook than the breasts...

I have used a roaster, set to 170degF, and after 12+ hours have melt-in-your-mouth chicken... Go a few more hours and I recon I could make chicken pudding, lolz.

On older, free ranged birds, the most valuable parts are the organs, fat and bones! Sooooo nutritious! Add a bit of balsamic vinegar to the stock pot to aid in the leaching of the bones
 
Leila Rich
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I have always let a bird 'set' for at least 24 hours.
Since I've never tried to cook meat (except fish) before rigor mortis, I can't say what difference it actually makes.
Aside from anything, if I've been up to my elbows in a chicken, I'm unlikely to want to eat it within 24 hours anyway!
 
pal lane
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Location: Macal River, Cayo, Belize
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I read on a university web site that poultry was better after freezing, as it helps to break the cellular structure and tenderize it... very different from other meats. I've been doing that with better results ever since. My free-range roosters were very chewy!
 
S Carreg
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I havent eaten any of our own chickens yet or any very very old tough ones, but I reckon the ways I cook them should work:

yogurt or buttermilk marinade - soak the whole bird in yogurt or buttermilk for up to 24 hours in the fridge, with some salt and garlic - this really helps tenderize the meat, can roast as normal or on a lower heat for longer

in a dutch oven/ cast iron roaster, put some quartered onions in the bottom, place bird on top, rub bird in and out with olive oil, salt and herbs, stick a quartered lemon inside the bird, then half-fill the pan with white wine or hard cider, make sure the lid is very tight-fitting (I seal it up with tin foil), and bake in a low temp oven (130 C or so) for at least 4 hours - I usually put in on in the morning to eat in the evening. if you want some crispy skin you can remove the top and pour off some of the liquid (save it!) and turn the oven up and put the bird back in for 10-15 minutes at the end.
this yeilds really tender chicken and a decent amount of yummy stock that you can save for other things, and I think it would work well with a tougher bird too
 
Cyndie Montoya
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Thanks for all the advice! I've let it rest for 24 hours so I think today is the day to enjoy our labors. For the most part they have been cooped; but of course with plenty of sunshine and fresh air. We let them out to free range about once a week just so they can take part in normal chicken behavior like dust baths etc... However, with most of them being Roosters that becomes quite an ordeal as all they want to do is chase the girls and fight each other. Our egg chickens free range every day.
 
David Hartley
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Regarding the cooking of poultry...

Keep in mind that the USDA recommendation for internal temperature is for one minute. Yes; ONE minute at that temperature and all pathogens are dead.... The same is true at 140 degrees, if held at 140 for 35 minutes...

Proteins (in general) denature at 135 degrees. Meaning; they unravel, die and begin to "toughen"... Try comparing a fast and hard boiled egg to one that was cooked at 140 for an hour. The first will be tough and rubbery; the second will be soft and creamy
 
Valerie Acquard
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Location: North Woods MN
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I never thought of this when slaughtering our rabbits. We had more then one the same day we slaughtered it, because we only did them one at a time. But now that I have seen this, and thought about it for a while. I think it would be best to let it rest for a day or two. Even before freezing. Simply to let the muscles relax from rigor.

In fact if you believe wikipedia, chilling the meat causes cold shortening, some type of strong muscle contraction that makes the meat too terrible for even the meat industry. So, when I slaughter my own chickens I will let it rest at room temperature for a few hours to let it develop rigor naturally. Then chill it in a frig for at least 48 hours or until the rigor is gone before freezing them. Then when I'm ready for chicken I will perhaps brine them while they thaw and then slow roast them. That perhaps would be the ultimate idea anyway.

If it was a very young chicken, and I was only killing them one at a time I might just cook it within the first few hours before any kind of rigor could set in. I'm sure this is why some of my young rabbits tasted so good cooked and consumed within hours, but some where quite tough, the ones that we cooked after letting the meat rest for only a few hours, or after chilling immediately in the freezer.
 
amber marcum
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Location: ne arizona
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Would it matter if I was going to boil them off the bones and pressure can them anyway? not eat them fresh or freeze them. They will get soft and edible anyway in the canning process.
 
Vicky Barton
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Location: Chattaroy, north of Spokane, WA
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I'm here looking for answers to pretty much the same question. I recently harvested a 7 1/2 month old, Rhode Island red laying hen. I made broth with all the goodies, including the feet, which I peeled first. And saved the beautiful chicken fat. I let the chicken rest in the fridge for 4 days. It was slightly more flexible. I put it in the oven and roasted it the way I would a turkey. Breast was good, legs and thighs were tough. The broth from the roasted carcass and bones was EXCELLENT in flavor! Next time, I'm going to try the slow cooker or a nice Coq Au Vin, with Burgundy. My fave.
But, I'm thinking that a beef steer must hang to cure for some time before butchering begins.
So, should a cleaned, feathered chicken also hang in cool but not cold temperature for the meat to relax? I'm about to harvest a dozen hens.
Forgive me if this has been answered on a separate thread that I've yet to find.
Peace to all.
 
Walt Holton
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When I butcher I usually freeze the meat portions (leg thigh breast, wings), but I immedealty put all of the carcacess (and the heart and cleaned gizzard diced...the livers I save to catch catfish with) into a big pot to stew and cook off the rest of the meat, fat and marrow to make a fine meaty broth (with seasoning of course), and then can the meaty broth (30% meat). So it certainly does not hurt to cook them right away, but hanging them might allow bacteria to grow.
 
Ian Petrie
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Location: Tuffnell, SK. Zone 3B
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I've never been in a spot where I'd be able to clean my kitchen in under an hour and get a chicken cooked after a butchering session, so I don't know about that. What I do is let them cool at room temp until I'm done butchering. When they feel cold inside I put them in the fridge for 24 hours or so, and then into the freezer after that. I learned this the hard way my first year. I put them all in the freezer within a few hours of butchering and they were all SO tough and chewy. Let 'em rest a bit. The organs are for eating that first day.
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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