Friday, December 17, 2010

Staple Recipe: Poached Whole Chicken

For some reason, it took me until this year to poach my first whole chicken. I had used the technique with breasts but never the whole bird, as well as saved up my bones in the freezer for making broth which is much the same technique. After I realized what a great way to cook poultry it was and how incredibly far I could make one chicken go this way, I felt like a total dumbass for not getting with the poaching program earlier! Not only do I get enough chicken meat for 4 or 5 family meals, but I also usually get around 20 cups of delicious homemade broth. I usually freeze all the broth in two cup portions, except for what I will use in the next couple days, in either containers or baggies put in a large freezer bag. The chicken you can use in literally hundreds of ways. I like to cut off at least one chicken breast and slice over a salad and toss the whole deal with dressing for when I'm in a big rush. The rest of the chicken I usually shred with my hands and freeze in one cup portions to use in any recipe where cooked chicken is called for. you can even save the chicken fat if you'd like, its good to make Matzo balls and it also tastes good in savory breads. 

Some easy uses I like for the chicken include: quesadillas, White Chili (this is an excellent one), chicken pot pie, chicken curry, etc etc etc. I hope that if you aren't already in the habit of poaching whole chickens that you will love this technique as much as I do! You will need your biggest stock pot with a lid to make cook this in.

Whole Poached Chicken

- 1 whole chicken, 5-6 pounds
- 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 carrots, cut into big chunks
- 2 stalks celery, cut into big chunks
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 lemon
- big handful of fresh parsley, stems and all
- small palmful of peppercorns
- any other scrubbed vegetable scraps you have hanging around, I usually keep them frozen in a bag to add to this, such as leek, fennel, parsnip, etc. If I have some on hand, I also throw in a couple sprigs of fresh thyme.

Place everything into your stockpot. Fill with water until the chicken is covered by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to medium and simmer for 25 minutes. During this time, skim off any of the gross grey stuff that comes to the top. 

Turn off the heat and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Let the chicken poach in the hot liquid for 1 1/2 hours. 

Remove the chicken from the stockpot, letting the juices drain, making sure that they run clear (which tells you that it's done, if juices are pinkish it isn't cooked, heat to a simmer and turn off and let sit 1/2 hour more). Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it cool. Strain out the vegetables from the broth and discard. Let the broth cool. Once it is cool, transfer it to the fridge. 

Once the chicken is cool, remove the meat from the bones, shredding with your finger, discarding the skin and bones. Either keep the breasts whole or shred it all. Pack up the chicken to store in the fridge or freezer. 

Once the broth is cold, you can skim off the fat and either discard it or save it for another use (it also freezes well--I freeze it in Baby Cubes). Divide the broth how you'd like, and store it in the fridge or freezer. 


  1. Never heard of that technique to cook poultry before! My grandmother showed me to make broth from the bones but really, this is news to me. Michelle, you're becoming my Julia Child.

  2. Thanks so much! I hope you find this method useful, let me know if you get to try it!


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