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Thread: Tough local free range chicken?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Southeastern TN

    Tough local free range chicken?

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    I've been buying free range chicken (usually thighs, legs, or wings) from a local farm for about a year now, but in the past couple of months the chicken has been tough. Our last order of drumsticks were tough and full of ligaments, like a turkey leg. And even though I just had bone-in thighs from them about a month ago which were excellent, the batch tonight was tough as well. I'm pretty sure I'm not overcooking them--I use a thermometer and stopped at 160. I understand that free range birds are more active, but I am surprised at the difference from the same farm.

    Does anyone have any tips on how to cook tougher free range chicken? I was really looking forward to having a mess of chicken drumsticks for lunches and snacks, but they were barely edible the day I cooked them, and certainly not as leftovers. Would brining help?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Knoxville, TN
    I like to eat roosters because they're mostly wing & drumstick, and very little breast meat. Roosters also tend to be a little on the tough side if they get too old. When that happens I just cook them low and slow in the crockpot. Generally that's a good way to keep any meat from getting tough.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Upstate of SC
    maybe they're older tend to have to cook them longer b/c they get tough.
    Heather and the hounds - Make a Fast Friend, Adopt a Greyhound!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    On a goat farm in central Indiana
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    Another recommendation for low and slow. We raised a bunch of Cornish Cross roosters (the traditional meat chicken), and they ended up a little tougher than we'd have liked. Cooking them in the crockpot or stewpot works wonders.

    One way I like to fix them is to put them in a huge pot with some garlic, green onions, and ginger slices. Simmer until the meat is falling off the bone. Strain the broth off, pick the meat from the bones & return to broth. Add sliced veggies (like carrots on bias, more green onion, green beans, whatever). It's like an Asian-flaired chicken soup, and it's wonderful!

    In the crockpot, I'll season well and add a splash of white wine or even just water (maybe 1/2 to 1 cup?) and cook all day. It still has the consistency of crockpot meat, but it's not bad. Definitely better than eating tough roasted chicken!

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