One tough old bird!
Dinner ruined. I picked up a frozen chicken at my farmers market a few weeks back. The farmer who I buy my eggs and bacon from told me that it was a slow cooker bird and would be best done in my crockpot. So last night I thawed it out then popped it into the crockpot this morning with a slosh of EVOO and a sprinkle of seasoning. It was in the crockpot for at least 9 hours, and whenever I've cooked chicken like this before it literally falls off the bone. Not this old bird though. It's skin was so tough I could barely get the carving knife through it, an separating the joints was near on impossible. I tried to eat a bit of leg with the skin peeled off but it was so tough and sinewy I couldn't even get my teeth through it ( I gave up trying to use a knife and fork).
We ended up eating vege for tea, which thankfully the kids were happy enough with. I've put the chook back into the crockpot with a litre of water this time and set it on low, hoping to at least get some broth from it.
So I'm wondering if I just got sold a dud bird, or did I do something wrong with my cooking method? Any suggestions?
That stinks--I wonder if a little vinegar in the cooking liquid might help? That must have been one old stewing hen to still be tough after all that time in the pot! Did you have liquid in there with it? I've had success with recovering overcooked chicken by leaving the meat on the bone while making broth, and then picking the chicken out afterward. It's mostly just good for shredding at this point, but not lost. Not sure if that would work on a bird that was tough to start with though.
I've had this happen, but it was even worse--they were selling vacuum packed chicken thighs and drumsticks, and after months of great chicken all of a sudden I got a pack that were so tough they were inedible. I understand that older free-range birds can be tough and need to be stewed, but there was no warning on this one.
Stewing hens should still cook up in the crockpot like you mentioned - with meat falling off the bones. Sounds like you got a really old bird. My husband once shot a turkey like that - was a really old gobbler. I tried boiling it for three days and you still couldn't cut through it.
When you buy a bird - look for one with lots of yellow fat. If it has no fat - its a very old one that was probably heading into a molt. Not only is it tough, but most of the nutrition was used up in egg production.