How do I cook chicken to make bones soft?

A quick question… does anyone know how to cook chicken pieces, like wings and thighs, so that the bones turn into soft mush?  These types of bones are found in foods like Merrick’s “Wingaling”, and Evangers canned chicken thighs.  The bones look normal, but they’re so soft you can just squeeze them between your fingers and they crumble.  I’m 100% sure the chicken has to be cooked in a pressure cooker, but I can’t find anything online which tells me a specific time to cook them, or whether they should be cooked at high pressure or low pressure.  I found someone’s Flickr photo of homemade dog food, and they said they pressure cook the bones in vinegar to soften them, but I wasn’t sure if this was accurate.  Even if it is, that’s just cooking the bones seperately, whereas Merrick and Evangers are able to keep the entire piece of chicken intact, and the meat soft and tender, while also softening the bone.

If anyone has specifics, please let me know.  Otherwise, I’ll just buy a bunch of wings and thighs and start experimenting.

Posted by Leigh-Ann on 04/28 at 04:59 PM

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  1. I pressure cook rabbit for my dog and cook for about an hour, only the small bones turn to mush though. I could cook longer, but supplement for calcium. The bones just pull away from the meat.

    I would try for an hour and then 1.5 if that doesn’t soften them up.

    Posted by Cheryl  on  04/28  at  06:40 PM
  2. I thot the chick-hens are just borned wif soft bones. You know, like the boneless chick-hens. :-)

    Posted by Victor Tabbycat  on  04/28  at  10:39 PM
  3. Victor Tabbycat is funny!!! Probably why we have buffalo wings and other genetic mutants! :)

    Pressure cooking is that does it on commercial food. Makes short work of it. But long simmering can do it too. I have simmered turkey and chicken bones (together) on a normal range top for a day or two. A slosh of vinegar helps with making bone broth by encouraging the bone to go to solution.

    Softer bones turned to mush (Turkey leg bones got ‘bendable’ but I discarded. I made great stock for my dogs and the humans. You do have to watch out regarding too much fat since this will be very rich sometimes. Only a smidgen will be all needed for a kitty, I imagine.

    Probably not for Carlos tho. Liver function and fat metabolism.. might be problematic. I don’t know…

    Posted by SemaviLady  on  04/29  at  03:41 AM
  4. My pressure cooker experiment wasn’t entirely successful.  It’s the first pressure cooker I’ve owned, and the assembly instructions were a bit vague and confusing, so I’m not exactly sure if I had the unit assembled properly.  It did show that the pot was “pressurized” and it locked itself for safety, but I was never able to get the pressure gauge to get above “low”.  Also, the pot hissed/whined the entire time I used it—was it just releasing pressure?  I may have to call the manufacturer (Presto) for information.

    I tried to cook the thighs for 90 minutes, but I was never able to get the pot above the “low” setting, so the temperature may not have been hot enough.  The cartilage pieces on the ends of the bones turned to jelly, and the bones themselves were soft when they were hot, but they were really hard after they’d cooled.  I might have been right on the cusp of getting them cooked properly and stopped cooking too soon, but I was afraid I was going to boil all the liquid off because so much steam seemed to be escaping.  I won’t worry about that next time.

    The dogs are still thrilled to have chicken meat and broth in their food, so even without the bones, they think the experiment was a success.  They’re pretty easy to please.

    Regarding vinegar, the more I think about it, isn’t there some practical joke for making a “rubber chicken bone” that involves using vinegar?

    Posted by Leigh-Ann  on  04/30  at  04:54 AM
  5. Cheryl, are you buying rabbit in Vegas?  I’m still trying to find a supplier who will order meat for me, even just chicken backs, because the grocery stores I’ve asked won’t do it.  I’m personally kind of squeamish about buying fresh rabbit, but I know that’s just a silly personal issue, and I’d do it for the dogs if someone in town was selling it for raw diets.

    Posted by Leigh-Ann  on  04/30  at  04:57 AM
  6. Leigh-Ann, yep sounds like your cooker was leaking. Like the fizz going out of a soda if the cap isn’t tight. I’m no help there, don’t own one.

    Vinegar (being an acid) does leach calcium out of bone (slowly) and is always part of any traditional bone broth recipe. The bonus is a natural whole food with a source of glucosamine and chondroitin sulphates with the benefit of nutritional elements that boost bioavailability and uptake of calcium etc. A natural joint compound which also nourishes cellular membranes too (our lungs, nails, skin etc) and helps with the protective qualities of semi-permeability. It gels up when cool - gelatin. Fish head & bone w/ shrimp head-shell broth are among other sources of good broth material for your pressure cooker.

    People tend not to make this wonderful homemade stuff any more these days. They take their joint compound in pill form which means they may not get enough other provitamins to help absorption. The broth may be a powder in a bottle. And the studies give mixed results on such ‘natural supplements’. The problem is that on an individual basis, people taking these supplements may also be missing the micro-nutrients that make them more bioavailable. So some benefit more than others. Elderly people tend to rely on supplements so they do tend to have bone loss even if they are taking calcium. I really think bone broths need to return!

    Agree - not to give cooked bones to the dogs. Bones get dry and brittle. The composition of all food changes during cooking actually. Unless bones are cooked to the mush stage (hours on MY stovetop) I’d avoid feeding cooked bones.

    My dogs do get raw pig feet from the Mexican market when we get a cheap deal. Good for their joints too as it is packed with cartilage, soft bone, tendons and a little meat… they eat the entire thing hoof and all. Nothing left. (hopefully no Melamine in it!)

    Actually the vinegar and chicken bone thing is not a joke. Didn’t it used to be part of science classes in the USA? (I didn’t grow up here) I don’t know about Canada either!

    I didn’t read any of these links but here’s a google of it - enter if you dare, lol

    Posted by SemaviLady  on  04/30  at  06:53 AM
  7. Yup, Mom’s done that - soak a chik-hen bone in vinegar fur so many days, an it comes out bendy.

    Posted by Victor Tabbycat  on  04/30  at  09:36 PM
  8. I’ll definitely add a splash of vinegar the next time I experiment.  The dogs are enjoying the boneless meat this time, and also love the gelatinous broth I saved to dump over their dry food.  It’s like a gourmet meal for them!  It’s my first baby-step towards a homemade diet.

    Posted by Leigh-Ann  on  05/01  at  07:21 AM
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