A leg up for the chicken industry

Linda Benedict, Farr, A. James  |  10/8/2009 2:03:25 AM

Dipping and washing mince from broiler dark meat

Henri K. Salman, Kenneth W. McMillin and A. James Farr

Although a valuable source of protein and other nutrients, chicken leg meat is underused in the U.S. market. It is less desirable to consumers and more difficult to remove from the bone than breast meat.

Mechanical deboners can efficiently separate the meat from bone as a mince. This mince can then be used in the food industry for products such as chicken nuggets and frankfurters. But mechanical deboners incorporate air during the process that may initiate the oxidation of lipid and pigment components more so in dark chicken muscle than in breast meat. This can accelerate rancidity and discoloration.

This research was conducted to examine the process of dipping the leg quarters in two different antioxidants to determine if this resulted in a more satisfactory product. This research also evaluated the effect of washing the recovered mince on the quality of chicken patties.

Twenty-pound batches of leg quarters were soaked in either a solution of 1 percent citric acid or 1 percent mixed phosphate for 20 minutes. One batch was left unsoaked to serve as the control. The soaked leg quarters were ground through a 1-inch plate before being mechanically separated. The unsoaked leg quarters were hand deboned and then the meat was ground. Half of the mechanically separated or hand-deboned mince was washed in three successive solutions that included tap water and sodium bicarbonate. Following each wash, the mince was centrifuged to remove excess water. The lipid components that separated from the mince during centrifugation were removed by pumping the fat layer from the surface of the mince.

The washed and unwashed mince was cooled to 34 degrees F and formed into round quarter-pound patties. Patties were wrapped in plastic bags and stored at 40 degrees F for zero, three or seven days. Raw patties and cooked patties were evaluated for oxidative stability and color.

Raw patties from unwashed, recovered mince had 21 percent less moisture and 9 percent to 16 percent more fat than washed mince from each treatment. Soaking in citric acid or phosphates decreased the moisture and protein and increased the fat content compared with hand-deboned leg meat.

The color of the recovered mince was darker, redder and yellower than that of hand-deboned meat. Washing the mince or meat removed some of the pigment, lightening the color to a less red and more yellow hue compared with unwashed mince or meat.

Cooking of patties caused the color to be darker, less red and more yellow than raw patties. Removal of the pigment by washing reduced the lipid oxidation. Cooking loss was less in washed mince than unwashed mince and in the hand-deboned meat compared with mechanically recovered mince.

The results indicated that washing provides a mince with more desirable color and oxidative properties while not greatly altering the texture of cooked patties compared with unwashed mince. The pre-deboning antioxidant soaking treatments were not effective in stabilizing the mince during storage, so alternative ingredients or processing will need to be studied to prevent lipid oxidation in mechanically separated mince.

Value-added and deboned meat products are primarily responsible for the increased per capita consumption and the availability of more convenient poultry products. Mechanical recovery of dark broiler meat from chicken hindquarters is more efficient than hand deboning, but more testing needs to be done on products to determine the amount of mince that can be added to whole muscle patties or nuggets for a desirable product. More research will help ensure that meat products for consumers are acceptable, high quality and nutritious.

Henri K. Salman, former Research Associate, Department of Poultry Science, and now Special Projects Supervisor, Oscar Mayer Foods Division, Kraft Foods, Newberry, S.C.; Kenneth W. McMillin Professor, Department of Animal Science, and A. James Farr, Associate Professor, Department of Poultry Science, LSU Agricultural Center, Baton Rouge, La.

(This article was published in the winter 1999 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)

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