White Poached Chicken

by Veronica on April 10, 2010

A Very Long Time Ago I was reading a Chinese cookbook and it spoke about white poached chicken. I was 12 or 13 at the time and so didn’t make it, but it must have made enough of an impression on me that I kept the recipe in my head.

I bought a whole chicken the other day and planned on roasting it. However, when dinner time came around, I didn’t feel like roast chicken and so, I poached it.

The meat ends up very moist and delicately flavoured and unlike with roast chicken, there is no grease or oilyness to speak of, making it fantastic for feeding to short messy children.

Plus, the prep is amazingly simple, meaning I could do it while simultaneously playing with the children.

Take a whole chicken and rinse it inside and out. Trim off any excess fat from the neck and around the cavity. Rinse again and then salt the cavity generously. If you’re organised, and have kitchen string on hand, truss your chicken. I am decidedly NOT organised and I never remember to buy kitchen string. My chicken remained untrussed (side note: spell check wants me to change untrussed to undressed. my chicken also remained undressed, so that’s probably correct as well).

Take a pot of cold water and add a generous measure of salt. Also add some fresh herbs – I used parsley and chives, tied together with garlic tops – lemon slices snd garlic.

The acidity from the lemon is important I think I remember reading. Never mind, the lemon makes it taste good anyway.

Bring the water to a rolling boil. When it’s almost boiling, scoop out the fresh herbs, they’ll taste a little stewed if you leave them in there and it will pass to your chicken.

Add your chicken to the boiling water and bring back to the boil. Boil, with a lid on, for 5 minutes and then take it off the heat immediately. Using foil, seal the lid on the pot tightly to prevent steam loss. Cover with a couple of tea towels to help hold in heat and then leave it for an hour.

I saved the fat that I’d trimmed from the chicken and rendered it down, along with some lard from the roast pork that I’d saved. I used this to shallow fry some potatoes.

After an hour, scoop out some of the chicken water and thicken it to make gravy. I use a mix of flour and butter blended together, and whisked into hot liquid to make gravy – obviously with Amy’s coeliacs, I use a gluten free flour blend from Orgran and the flavour and effect are identical to wheat flour.

Remove the chicken from the hot water – it should be cooked through. This would be a good time to point out that the water and the chicken and still very hot and if you’re using tongs, there is a likelihood that the water from inside the chicken will run down the tongs when you lift them and burn you. You’re welcome. I do these things so you don’t have to.  If you’re using an extra large chicken, larger than an 18, I would suggest leaving the chicken for 90 minutes to sit.

I am a terrible food blogger and didn’t take photos of the chicken as it emerged. I was too busy nursing a burned hand, swearing, and pushing children away from the hot things. Sorry.

Serve with whatever vegetables you like and gravy made from the chicken stock. If you’re being authentic, you’d probably use steamed pak choy or similar. I served mine with crispy potatoes, peas, silverbeet, chard and gravy.



Michelle April 10, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Beautiful photos! And a great idea to serve with roast vegetables. I love poached chicken, but always burn myself as the hot liquid runs down the tongs on onto my arms too…

sharon April 11, 2010 at 11:58 am

I do that with skinless chicken breasts sometimes. Generally avoids the whole hot water running up your arm scenario, plus I hate the look and texture of the skin unless it is crispy. However it did occur to me that if you manage to get one of those deep narrower stockpots you could possibly poach the chicken standing on its end and the liquid would drain out straight back into the pot as you lift it…?

Barbara April 13, 2010 at 7:26 am

sounds great. I’ve never tried poaching chicken before – I should but will buy some waterproof tongs first.

Cri April 28, 2010 at 5:40 pm

SOUNDS AWESOME. Will try. Good tip about the tongs, I do stuff like that all the time.

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