Chicken is a very versatile meat that almost everyone can make. However, it is very common to have a rubbery, chewy chicken, especially if you are a beginner just dipping your toes in cooking. So, stop wondering, ‘why is my chicken chewy’ and read our article.
There are a few reasons why chicken becomes chewy; however, you can avoid the chewy texture with a few simple techniques.
To know why your chicken is chewy and how to avoid the spongy texture, keep on reading and unravel the mystery of chewy, spongy chicken.
What Makes the Chicken Chewy?
Chewy chicken is something no one wants to eat. A few cooking techniques and breeding techniques are the reason behind chicken turning chewy and rubbery. Keep on reading to find out more!
One of the prime reasons for chewy chicken is overcooking the chicken. Chicken, generally, is required to cook in high heat. The ideal temperature to cook chicken is 165 degrees.
Chicken is an excellent source of protein. However, this very protein can be the reason why your chicken has a rubbery texture. Meat is made up of protein fiber which is sensitive to heat. Hence, the amount of time you take to cook your meat is significant.
If you cook for a lesser time than needed, you run the risk of leaving the chicken raw, while overcooking it can denature the proteins that the texture of the chicken becomes elastic and chewy.
Since the thickness of a boneless piece of meat is not equal, cooking becomes a problem. To avoid overcooking, the chicken should have an even thickness.
How do you get a consistent thickness, you ask? It can quickly be done by wrapping the chicken breast and hitting it with a meat mallet. Additionally, when you are cooking the meat, be sure to check the temperature of the meat using the meat thermometer.
Lack of Moisture
Besides cooking, another thing that affects the quality of chicken is ‘dryness.’ You heard it right! A lack of moisture can cause your chicken to have a rubbery texture. While one of the side-effects of overcooking is dry chicken, other factors can make your chicken dry- even before cooking!
The moisture trapped in a chicken can easily escape if it is kept in the open air. Now the best way to ensure that the chicken retains the moisture is to keep the meat wrapped in plastic until you are ready to cook it.
We would also advise you to cover the opening of a container with plastic wrap when you let the chicken marinate. A favorite among culinary experts is to soak the meat in pickle juice before cooking. The chicken gets a nice ting and a flavor.
Soaking helps to retain the moisture of the food and breaks down some of the muscle fibers of the meat, which makes the meat more tender, too, apart from eliminating the dryness of the food.
Quality of the Meat
Chefs, don’t be disheartened! Overcooking or ill-prepared chicken is not the only reason that makes your chicken chewy. Various other reasons like farming technique, dietary routine, and commercial-scale production of poultry affect the quality of meat produced.
When a chicken is affected by a woody chicken breast condition, the muscle fiber of the chicken becomes tight and knotted. Many retailers sell chicken with this condition as this disease affects 5-10% of chicken in the United States.
Another disease that causes rubbery results is called white stripping. White stripes look similar to wood grain seen across chicken breasts running parallel to the muscle.
This white stripping degrades the quality, taste, and nutritional value of the chicken. As a result of white stripping in meat, the meat becomes less tender, and does not absorb marinade easily, and has a higher concentration of fat.
These are the reasons why your meat can appear to be chewy and rubbery.
How to Avoid Rubbery Chicken?
There is little you can do to make a chicken tender with woody chicken breast or white striping. However, you can take some steps to ensure that you do not overcook or dry out your chicken. Some of these methods are mentioned below.
A century-old traditional culinary method that guarantees perfectly cooked and tender meat is to simmer the meat. You can simmer meat by boiling it for a more extended period over a very low temperature.
An electronic slow cooker is perfect for this task. You can set a timer and set a temperature. After that, you can just let the machine do its magic. However, a disadvantage of this technique is that it requires a lot of time and energy.
It will be challenging for you if you do not own an electronic slow cooker as you have to keep an eye on the food you are cooking. If you do not check the chicken often, then chances are you will overcook the chicken, and it will, in turn, become rubbery, so it is somewhat counterproductive.
Dry chicken is one of the reasons behind your chicken being spongy. A brine solution is the ultimate prophylactic against the problem as it is a heavily salted solution that keeps your chicken juicy.
When you soak the meat in the brine solution, it helps to keep the meat tender. As a result, the meat does not tighten during cooking. Moreover, it helps to keep the retain the moisture of the flesh.
Hence, it will keep chickens hydrated and eliminate any risk of having a dry one. Brine solution is a simple salt solution, but you must be careful with the number of ingredients you use as too much or too little can disturb the balance of the salt solution.
If you want to ensure that you are adding the right amount of ingredients to the meat, it is best to follow a good recipe.
The disadvantage of soaking chicken in brine solution is that you cannot wing the recipe. Instead, you need to have allotted ingredients and a recipe. Moreover, it takes time and effort to prepare the solution.
The Gravy Technique
If you do not have all the ingredients needed in the brine solution, you can opt for the gravy technique.
Gravy is a thick and saucy liquid. When chicken is cooked with gravy, it retains moisture. It is effortless to make a gravy chicken. As long as the chicken is soaked and has enough water, it will not turn dry and rubbery.
Everyone loves to eat and cook chicken as it is readily available and, well, delicious. No one wants to take away the nutrition and taste of the chicken by making it chewy and spongy.
Overcooked, dry meat, and animal breeding problems are the primary reason for having a chewy textured chicken. There are a few ways you can also avoid the chewy texture of chicken, as discussed in the article.
Now that you are aware of the answer to the question, why is my chicken chewy, do not be afraid to try and prepare a chicken meal.