Tough rooster : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I am new to Countryside Magazine and to this forum and have enjoyed both this past year. My wife and I are making headway in becoming more self sufficent and we had our first attempt at butchering a rooster this past weekend. It was messy but we thought it would be worth it for the fresh meat, however it was so tough we could hardly eat it. My kids tried it and eventually just ate the potatoes and carrots. I think the rooster was about 10 mos old and I've had it in a separate pen for most of that time eating feed - not free ranged. My wife cooked it a little longer than the usual store bought chicken. Any suggestions? Gary

-- Gary Noland (, May 14, 2001


We had a tough rooster once, that thing even tasted nasty! We blamed it on its personality. ;-) The next roosters after that we boiled.

Good luck! And welcome to the forum!!


-- Cindy in Ok (, May 14, 2001.

My guess is that the expression "tough old bird" originated with just such an animal. We butchered 4 roosters yesterday afternoon and they were hard to take apart. The connective tissue that normally gives easily to remove the gullet and wind pipe had to be cut and the joints all needed even more pressure to yield. Younger birds--under 3 months--are much easier and quicker to do. Right now, I'm pressure canning the breast meat and cooking the rest with carrot, celery, onion, salt and pepper until it comes off the bones. I'll can that separately. Don't give up yet. It is possible to get a good tasting tender meal out of a tough critter. Long slow cooking or pressure cooking is the way to go though.

-- marilyn (, May 14, 2001.

You have to pressure cook fully grown roosters or you just cant chew them. We used to raise hens for eggs to hatch and we had these huge roosters to make the eggs fertile. When we would change out the hens and roosters we would dress the roosters and there was a big demand for them from resturants, They made their chicken salad out of them. And the pressure cooked them. If you try to just cook them they will never get tender. Me and my first wife boiled one for 24 hours and then fed it to the dog.

-- David (, May 14, 2001.

Gary -- Besides pressure cooking, there's another way to tenderize a tough old bird. Just about any tough meat can be tenderized by canning. Takes a little more time, but is worth the effort. Also, you don't need freezer space for storage. Just a thought....LB

-- Lynn in SD (, May 14, 2001.

Hi Gary. When I was a youngster my mom would buy old roosters for something like .25 cents. We would keep them in a small 3'X 3' pen for about one to two weeks and feed them nothing but a corn diet. When it would come time to butcher them, mom would withold food from them for 24 hrs. Letting them have nothing but water to drink. She claimed that they were easier to clean after fasting them. After butchering them, mom would make chicken n' dumplins. They were the best. Sometimes I wished I was still a little kid so I could relive some of those meals. This is the only way mom would cook an older rooster.(anything older than 3 months)

-- Russell Hays (, May 14, 2001.

Our first roosters were tough because I didn't know that you need to refrigerate them for 24 hours before you either freeze them or cook them. This puts the meat through "rigor" and makes it much better. I put soy sauce on mine and then bake it in a covered dish. The soy sauce is also tenderizing. I agree with the last post that it is best to fast them before you butcher if possible, mainly because it makes the job neater. The whole process also becomes much easier after you have done it a few times. Since we don't fry, and don't care for the skin, we skin instead of plucking, saving ourselves a fair amount of aggravation;)

-- mary, texas (, May 14, 2001.

Hi Gary, welcome to the forum! We have eaten many year old roosters and have found them to be quite palatable if fixed properly, ie., make sure they are kept for at least 24 hours in the refrigerator before either cooking or freezing for future use, this seems to be the key item necessary to ensuring tenderness, aging the meat, if you will. Also, baking with moist heat ( sealed up roasting pan with a bit of water in the bottom) at 325 degrees until meat is done well at the leg joint, usually no more than 2 1/2 hours, is enough cooking. Probably yours was overcooked, and with not being "aged" in the frig., made for one tough bird!

Try the slow, moist heat, and the 24 hour aging next time, and you should get better results that even your children will like too.

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (, May 14, 2001.

This is from a gal who eats everything she raises ~ chooks, ducks, geese, emu, pigeons, etc.

== If you use a pressure cooker, than you are just making stock. We save bones and pressure cook THOSE for stock! We pressure cook them on low for several hours, then remove the then practically powdered bones and feed them back to the chooks. The remaining rich bone stock is used for soup or to cook rice. (we almost never cook rice in plain water.)

As for cooking wild birds (or older roosters) usually involves a dutch oven or a covered cast iron pan, and lots of veggies, slow cooked in the oven. Tenderizes them. That is why so many WILD bird recipes involve fruit! Tends to tenderize tough birds.

A crock pot is also good with a 24 hour cook time. I often just make a good stock/soup, then shred the meat for tacos and salads. ==

-- ~Rogo (, May 15, 2001.

We tenderize wild turkeys by steaming in beer as a parboil. With the other seasonings, the beer taste isn't noticable at all.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL. (, May 15, 2001.

Thanks everyone, for all the helpful suggestions. I can "taste" success next time already! BTW, we are in Louisiana. Gary

-- Gary (, May 15, 2001.

Gary: I had the same experience last year, and asked the question, too. There are some responses in the archives from old timers about placing the birds in cold water, ice water, etc. that they swear works. You might check them out. Good luck, and don't give up! Sure tastes better than store bought! Jan

-- Jan in CO (, May 16, 2001.

Been their done that .Cant help but laugh!!!! If you want to eat chicken 6 mos is the longest you want them to live . After that makes great dog and cat food. Which also save money because the animal food is expensive and the cats and dogs love it!!

-- paul miller (, June 16, 2001.

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