Poached chicken prepared in advance and awaiting me and my tribe in the fridge during the week is often my mid week saviour. It is what stops me from having to make that emergency dash to the charcoal chicken store if I have just slid in the door from work and was planning a chicken salad or rice paper rolls for dinner. Although I must admit that I am quite partial to a barbecue Chook, this is just a whole world better for you and so very versatile.
You need to banish all thoughts of stringy, tough, sad chicken from your mind. For our chicken salads, sandwiches / wraps and quick weeknight meals, we want nothing but the best. And for that, this recipe here for poached chicken is definitely the way to go.
Good poached chicken is essential for:
- A great chicken salad – Asian or Western inspired flavours.
- Nourishing chicken soup (a firm family favourite).
- Added to fried rice (left over chicken & left over steamed rice. Add an egg and some shredded wombok and other greens and you have dinner in five)
- Sliced, beautifully poached chicken is also a great add-in to any leafy green lunch salad and or sandwich or wrap which is way better for you & tastier than any deli meat.
- This chicken shreds beautifully, so it is great to make a quick weeknight tacos or tossed through pasta with a Napoli sauce and served with reggiano parmesan and fresh basil.
- Poached chicken can also be sliced and enjoyed in rice paper rolls (a quick and super healthy mid week dinner and as pictured above).
Poaching chicken is easy. It involves covering a whole chicken or chicken pieces with liquid and allowing it to simmer until cooked through. The low temperature and moist-heat cooking method cooks the chicken gently and prevents it from overcooking too quickly. This cooked chicken is moist and tender.
You can serve your chicken immediately or refrigerate for later as poached chicken can be served hot, room temperature, or cool. It can also be served whole, or it can be sliced or shredded for your particular recipe.
How to poach chicken:
1 litre water or chicken stock (you can even add a splash of wine if you have some on hand)
1 garlic clove, peeled, halved
1 fresh bay leaf or 2 sprigs fresh thyme
5 black peppercorns
4 or 5 x 250g chicken breast fillets (for a whole chicken, see method below) **
Place the chicken and aromatics in a pot: Arrange the chicken in a single layer on the bottom of the pot. It’s fine if they overlap a little, but they cook more evenly if they are in a single layer. Add the garlic, herbs and peppercorns.
Cover the chicken with water or stock. If using wine, pour this over the chicken first. Pour in enough cool water to cover the chicken.
Place the pot of chicken on the stovetop over medium-high heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Once boiling, turn heat down to reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid. Let cook for 12-15 minutes. The chicken is cooked when opaque through the middle and an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the meat registers 75°C.
Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid and place it on a cutting board to rest for a few minutes.
** Poaching a whole chicken (as pictured) is just as easy. Place the whole chicken in the pot and cover with water or stock as well as the aromatics. You could also add some chopped carrot as well as a stick of chopped celery if you have some in the fridge. Bring to the boil, cover and then simmer for 1 hour and 20 minutes. The poaching liquid can be put through a strainer and bagged up for your own nicely portioned stock for whenever the need arises (often in my case!) which is thrifty for my kitchen both at home and at Relish Mama cooking school. Perfect for risotto or an instant soup too that you could add some lovely wontons to or add some asian greens, a little fresh chilli, cooked noodles, baby corn, peas and this is a winner but add some of your shredded poached chicken as well and you guessed it……“winner, winner, chicken dinner”!