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I had two chicken halves that were frozen. I thawed them out most of the way. I put olive oil and rosemary and sage on them, placed them into a dutch oven with the lid off and a bit of chicken stock in the bottom, and put the dutch oven into the oven at 375 degrees until the inside of the breast was done (according to meat thermometer).

The chicken came out chewy and rubbery. It was still moist, but just almost inedible. Can I blame the chicken?

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It sounds like your chicken was simply overcooked. If you used a built in pop-up timer, these almost always are set to a temperature which will overcook your poultry.

Some authorities recommend cooking white meat to 170 F (77 C), but this will leave your chicken dry and overcooked.

My personal preference is to cook white meat to about 158 F (70 C) in the oven, and then let carry over cooking bring it up a couple more degrees while it rests. This should leave your white meat much more succulent.

Similarly, dark meat should be cooked to a temperature (to my preference) of at least 165 F (74 C) although it is much more tolerant of being overcooked. This can be tricky when roasting a whole chicken.

Some things you can do help cook a chicken more evenly:

  • Cut it into parts, and roast the parts (obviously, this is ideal as each can be removed when done)
  • Use a high quality probe or instant read thermometer, in the thickest part of the breast or thigh, to get an accurate internal reading. To ensure accuracy, check a couple of spots, and apply the lowest temperature.
  • If you don't want to fully cut it up, butterfly or "spatchcock" the chicken
  • Brine the chicken (although I personally prefer simply to not overcook in the first place)
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Most meat thermometers with "done" indicators error on the 'really-over-cooked' side (they don't want legal trouble with undercooked food issues). Your best bet is to use a real accurate digital thermometer like a Polder and follow SAJ14SAJ's temperature recommendations (or establish your own).

Notice that he's indicated breast and legs are done at two different temperatures with breast being ~10°F lower. A couple of degrees make a big difference in doneness.

Also, organic chickens tend to be tougher since they stand a chance of actually using some of their muscles. Cook them at a lower temperature for longer time so the tissue has time to breakdown.

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