This article will cover why it is that your chicken is tough, rubbery, or hard to chew. There are some things to know about chicken that you may not know that could be affecting why your chicken keeps coming out tough and rubbery after it has been prepped and cooked. We will list the reasons why your chicken ends up this way after cooking it, starting with the most common reasons why first, to the least common reasons.
Chicken is known as being a very low fat meat for many of its parts. This makes chicken a great source of protein, but it also makes the meat less tender than other meats, like beef for example. This is one of the most important things to remember about cooking chicken in general, no matter what part of the chicken is being cooked.
Reason #1: You are cooking the chicken for too long or at too high of a temperature.
When chicken is cooked, it needs to be cooked correctly if you don’t want it to end up tough. The most common reason why chicken ends up tough after it is cooked, is because it has been overcooked. Care has to be taken when cooking the chicken, to ensure that it isn’t cooked to the point that it becomes really tough.
Before chicken is cooked, the meat is already well intact and the proteins are binded very well while the meat is whole. This can easily be seen through observing a raw whole piece of chicken tender or a raw chicken breast. So starting off, you are already dealing with tougher meat.
Take your time when cooking the chicken, even if it is boiled in water. The best way to fix this problem, is to cook the chicken and use a food thermometer to check its internal temperature. The safe internal temperature for cooked chicken is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the chicken has reached this safe internal temperature, finish the cooking process. No matter how you are cooking the chicken (roasting, boiling, frying, or any other way), you should cook the chicken to this point.
Cooking the chicken past this point is just going to make it possibly tougher, more chewy, and possibly rubbery. Since chicken usually has less fat, then cook the chicken only to this point and then take it out. The more that chicken cooks, the more it will lose the little fat that it does have, which will inevitably make the chicken more tough and chewy.
It is really valuable to use a food thermometer for cooking chicken, as it can be really difficult to tell if the meat is cooked, since it doesn’t change drastically in color when it is cooked correctly. However, if the chicken meat has turned from pink (raw) to a noticeable darker color, then you could have possibly overcooked it, which means you may have tough chicken. Of course we aren’t talking about the skin of the chicken when we say this, but the actually meat itself.
When chicken cooks, it usually will start pinkish and then turn white as it fully cooks. From there, the meat will turn white to tan, and then brown to black. When the meat is no longer pink and it begins to look white, is the best time to check its internal temperature with the thermometer to see if the meat is nearly done. Even a tan color after cooking the chicken is a bit too much majority of the time. It has been cooking for too long at this point. However, the best bet is to look at the food thermometer’s readings to determine if the chicken is done altogether as a reference to keep the chicken as tender as possible.
This can even happen while the chicken is cooking in water. Even though the water is filling the chicken while it is cooking it in, it is still possibly for the chicken to become tough. It is the fats that make the meat tender, not the water. To counter the chicken becoming too rough and chewy while it is cooking, it is often deep fried. This is why fried chicken is so popular. The cooking oil that the chicken is frying in while it is deep frying adds extra fats to the meat, which keeps it moist and tender.
Buying a deep fryer to cook the chicken in can fix the problem altogether of chewy and tough chicken after it is cooked.
Reason #2: The chicken has been left out for too long.
If the chicken is left out for too long after it is cooked, then it will eventually lose its moisture, dry up, and become very tough depending on how long it has been sitting. This can happen if the chicken is cold after it is cooked, or even while it is being kept in a warmer to keep it warm after it is cooked.
To fix this, cook the chicken right before it is time to eat. If this can’t be done, then place the chicken in a warmer that keeps the chicken warm in an enclosed space. This will help to prevent the chicken from becoming cold and losing its moisture as fast, which inevitably leads to tough chicken.
Reason #3 You are eating the tougher parts of the chicken.
Certain parts of the chicken are naturally less tender than other parts, which can lead to rubbery and extremely chewy pieces while eating the chicken. The same rules also apply for these pieces when it comes to the information explaining earlier about how certain conditions effect the chicken.
The toughest edible parts of the chicken that are very chewy, tough, and rubbery, are the tendons and gizzard. They are considered edible, but they are more tough than most other parts of the chicken. Gizzards are made from strong stomach muscles in the chicken that help grind the food that chickens eat, so they are naturally tougher. The tendons are always going to be the tougher part, no matter how they are cooked. The legs of a chicken are also considered to be tough by some individuals.
Though the tendons are edible, in certain circumstances, they are best removed or avoided during consumption. Usually, the tendons are left on and the rest of the chicken is eaten around it.