Yesterday, I grilled some chicken breasts for dinner, and upon biting into it, it had this chewy texture, and the only question in the back of my head was, ‘’why is my chicken rubbery?’’. I have tried out different chicken recipes that turned out well, followed my recipes guide, and so ending up with the rubbery mess caught me by surprise.
I have also used the grill countless times, grilled chicken on it severally marinated the chicken, in the same manner, I always did. So, where did I go wrong this time? Either way, something went haywire in between the cooking, or I was just unlucky in purchasing the chicken breasts this time around.
So to help you avoid getting frustrated for ruining dinner, I came up with this article to understand why chicken gets rubbery and how you can fix such a mishap.
What does it mean when chicken is rubbery?
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Rubbery chicken has a rigid and flexible texture that is not pleasant when chewed. Eating rubbery chicken can hurt your jaws badly. The most common cause of rubbery texture in chicken is overcooking. Chicken should be cooked under high heat and quick enough.
You will find that most boneless skinless breasts do not have the same thickness, which makes them cook unevenly. There are, however, other causes that may not be your fault, like the chicken having a woody breast condition.
This condition results from the hardened muscle of chickens that have been bred to grow big fast and in shortened periods. The condition affects up to 10% of chickens in the market today. Woody breast condition is not a threat to human health but, as mentioned earlier, might hurt your jaws.
Most consumers have learned to check for this condition by feeling knots on the chicken breast. Some chose to discard them while others will grind them. You will find such chicken on large-scale farms, but you can increase the chances of getting the best soft chicken by purchasing from smaller farms.
Why does chicken get rubbery?
Your chicken gets rubbery for several reasons, some of which can be controlled, and others are just out of your control. Here is the cause of rubbery texture in your chicken.
Recipes call for cooking chicken at relatively high heat. A slight mistake of overdoing it, and you end up with stiff and chewy chicken meat. Excessive cooking by either frying or baking makes protein fibers lose their elasticity. This is usually accompanied by moisture loss due to exposure to heat for extended periods.
Chicken pieces have varying thickness, which might lead to some parts cooking faster than the others. So it’s best to ensure you work with even pieces. Placing chicken in plastic wrap then hitting it with a mallet will help get the same thickness in your chicken.
Woody chicken breast condition
This is one unavoidable condition beyond your means that makes your chicken rubbery. The condition is primarily due to the genetics of the poultry. Some people have also argued it could be caused by breeding organic chickens.
Meat from a chicken with woody chicken breast condition has tough and tight fiber muscles with a chewy texture. To ensure that you do not end up with such meat, always feel your chicken breast area for hardness during purchase. You will feel an unusual hardness that can be noticed even in frozen meat and is a little lumpy.
Lack of moisture is usually an aftermath of overcooking. Such a mistake is irreversible because you can’t start pumping moisture back into the meat. Chicken is lean meat, and the low-fat content can make it lose moisture quickly. Although that might not be your fault, you can prevent the chicken from drying out by: –
- Soaking the chicken in salted water. This will help in breaking down the muscle fibers, resulting in a tender chicken. Once the salt is absorbed, the meat stays moist.
- Ensuring that you cover the chicken with aluminum foil before cooking.
- Fill your pot with some water or broth, add some butter, then add in your chicken. You should then cook the chicken at medium heat until the chicken is well heated; you should, however, not exceed 10 minutes.
A white stripe appears at the surface of the chicken breast and usually in the same direction with the grain of muscles. This condition affects the meat quality because it reduces the nutrients and taste of the chicken meat.
White stripping also makes the meat have higher fat content and to be tough. Its cause is not established, but like the woody breast condition, most people believe it could result from growing more enormous chicken faster. Inspecting the meat before buying is a great way to ensure you do not end up with such meat.
Why is my chicken rubbery at times?
The most common reason as to why your chicken gets rubbery at times is due to overcooking. Maybe you missed a step and added some extra cooking time. Fried or baked chicken can overcook easily and make the protein muscles lose moisture due to exposure to high heat levels for an extended time.
Cooking at 150 degrees’ temperature will give you that tender and succulent chicken. Any figure above 150 degrees might stiffen your meat because the moisture in the meat will have already started drying out.
How to fix rubbery chicken
Everyone loves to bite into tender chicken, but they sometimes get rubbery even after taking all the necessary care. The good thing is that that dry piece of chicken can be turned into something eatable and tender. Here is how to fix that rubbery chicken.
Brining is one excellent way to maintain the chickens’ juices and flavor. The brine solution contains salt that tenderizes the meat and prevents it from getting tough upon cooking. Once the chicken is soaked in the brine, it absorbs water and retains it. Spices and herbs can be added to the brine to enrich the chickens’ flavor. Here is how to make the brine.
- 8 cups water
- ½ cup kosher salt
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 3 sprigs thyme
- ¼ cup honey
- Chili powder
- 4 garlic cloves(crushed)
- 4lbs whole chicken
- 2 sliced lemons
- Take a pot and add water, salt, honey, thyme, lemon, bay leaves, rosemary, and chili powder.
- Place the pot on a heat source and simmer at medium-low temperatures.
- Leave the mixture to cook till all the salt dissolves.
- Allow the mixture to cool.
- Add your chicken into the brine.
- Cover the pot and refrigerate the contents for up to 24 hours.
- After that, you can remove your chicken and rinse it in cold water, then dry it.
- Go ahead and cook your now brined chicken.
This method might take up some time, but it’s a perfect and relatively easy way of tenderizing your meat. You will just add some water into your crockpot, enough to cover your chicken, then season the meat with some sea salt. You can set the cooking to high and cook for 4 to 6 hours while keeping a check to not overcook the chicken. After the time elapses, get the chicken pieces from the pot piece by piece because the seasoning and water mix might be left clinging onto the cooked chicken.
Make a gravy sauce
Gravy is a sauce made with juices from meat and bones. The broth itself is made with milk and starch with additional spices to boost flavor. It brings out the best when cooked in an oven or on the stove. You should, however, keep checking the gravy to ensure that it does not dry out.
How to avoid rubbery chicken
If you have ever chewed on to a rubbery piece of chicken, you understand how awful it feels. The rubber texture might be fixable, but no one would want to waste more time fixing it, especially if hosting dinner with friends. Avoiding the rubber texture is the best thing to do. But how do you accomplish that?
- Marinating the chicken before cooking moistens the chicken. Just let the meat soak in the brine or marinade to prevent the rubbery texture and increase flavor.
- Purchasing slow-growing chickens that haven’t been organically raised to grow fast and in short periods.
- Cook the meat at high temperatures, ensuring that it has cooked well. Do not leave it sitting around after cooking, so it doesn’t dry.
- Prepare the chicken properly by removing the tenderloins and pounding them, so you end up with pieces of the same thickness.
- Use the correct cooking method like steaming, simmering, braising, or slow cooking.
- If you are cooking on the pan, ensure that the pan is hot enough and preheat the oven before tossing in your chicken.
- Avoid using skinless breasts as they act as a sound moisture barrier; that way, your chicken doesn’t dry out.
Chicken is white but rubbery.
Well done chicken usually takes a white color. But in some instances, you might bite into it and notice a chewy texture, which could be caused by overcooking. Another reason why your chicken turned out rubbery could be you placed cold chicken onto a cold pan. So as the pan started to absorb heat, so did the meat juices start to seep out. So ideally, it will be like you are searing the chicken. Instead of having a crisp and browned exterior, you end up with white overcooked chicken.
Is rubbery chicken ok to eat?
Rubbery chicken can also result from undercooking it. Overcooked chicken is safe to eat, but undercooked chicken isn’t. What happens when one consumes overcooked meat is that you could hurt your jaws pretty bad.
It isn’t safe to consume undercooked meat because there could be a potential risk to your health. There could be some salmonella bacteria thriving in the meat, which, upon eating, get to your intestines and cause infection. One way to recognize undercooked chicken is by observing its color. If there is a pinkish color, then you should leave the chicken to cook longer.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQS)
Does organic chicken get rubbery upon cooking?
Due to their nature of raising, organic chicken tends to walk around a lot, which toughens their muscles and makes the meat tough. To prevent that, you can slow cook it on a crockpot so that the tissues break down.
How can I tell my chicken is fully cooked without using a thermometer?
Cut the meat with a knife and access the meat color. If it has even the slightest hue of pink color, then it needs some more cooking. Fully cooked meat should be white in color. You will also notice that fully cooked chicken tends to shrink because the muscle fibers and fats have diminished.
What temperatures should a fully cooked chicken be?
Fully cooked chicken should be 1650F on a thermometer.
Now that you understand why your chicken turned out rubbery, there is no need to feel embarrassed because sometimes mistakes happen. If you still end up with rubbery chicken even after following all the tips to get the most tender chicken, you need to be keen when purchasing your meat. Your family will enjoy biting into that tender chicken incorporated in any dish.