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What is your preferred method for poaching whole chicken?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
At the moment I've just dropped a small (2.6 lb) whole chicken into some previously made chicken stock to poach.

I've chosen poaching to give me meat to use in a pie, or salad - whatever comes to mind.

I've seen recipes for poaching whole chicken that vary from 40mins to 1.5hrs without necessarily mentioning the weight of the bird.

I'm looking for temp & clear juices as indicators of finally done rather than time, but I'm interested in knowing if there is a general guideline to expected times assuming liquid within poaching range.

I'm also seeing recipes for poaching that begin with bringing the bird to the boil, and then talk about simmering rather than poaching. As I was going to remove the meat from the cooked bird, then return the remaining carcass to the liquid for a couple of hours and save as stock again - that initial boiling doesn't seem like something I want to be doing unless I want to add cloudiness to the finished stock.

So any observations, preferences, concerns etc. would be welcome.
post #2 of 25
Interesting you asked, I just poached a chicken last night.

I stick a whole chicken and a pack of chicken wings in a pot, cover with water, and then skim until there's nothing to skim anymore all the while never bringing it to a boil. I then add aromatics (onion, carrots, celery, garlic, potato, leeks, bay leaf, peppercorns, salt, tomatoes - all in any combination depending on what's available). Ccover and drop the temperature as low as it will go but still cook. I don't like any simmering bubbles at all and prefer to let it coast to being done or as BDL expertly says "brew it or steep it like tea."

After about 45-60 minutes I gently pull on one of the legs to see if it's done. If the bone easily turns in the socket it's ready by my measure. I remove all the meat from the breast, legs and thighs and return the carcass and skin to the pot to continue brewing my stock. The chicken wings never get removed, they stay in there until they've got nothing left to give then get tossed.

So basically yea, what you're doing more or less.

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post #3 of 25
Andy over the years I have found poaching a whole bird not so good. To me the outer part cooks much faster then inside therefor when finished tends to be drier at least to my taste.
I prefer poaching by pieces, either with or without bone. I believe that this is why almost all the old recipes for stock called for old birds and fowls as they required longer cooking and more flavor could be extracted. Again this is my opinion .:chef:
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post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 
Hi Koukouvagia :)

Thanks for that, and yes - I also do like to check that the leg joint has free movement.

Hi Ed,

I only have a small pot (6L) so only room for a little bird and it cooks quite quickly. Maybe that works for me a little?

I cannot remember the source, but I seem to remember reading recently that the Chinese would sometimes place 3 silver spoons in the cavity of a bird when cooking and I think that related to poaching (uncertain). I suppose they acted as internal radiators to even out the cooking process and avoid that pitfall.

I should learn to joint a bird though and give myself more options.
post #5 of 25
FWIW, Andy, I often salvage "poached" chicken as a by-product of stock making.

I always break down the chicken first, however, both for reasons Ed says, and because they're easier to work with. Once the heat is at the simmer point I let the chicken pieces cook for 20 minutes. Then I remove them, let them cool enough to handle, and strip off the meat, returning the bones to the stockpot. The chicken meat is always cooked through following that procedure.

Most of the time I start with three large chickens (I've got a big enough stockpot to do that). Depending on my needs, I sometimes first remove either the legs or breasts, saving them for another purpose. But even when I do that, there's a big pile of poached chicken remaining, which gets divided into portion sizes and frozen until needed.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #6 of 25
I got this from the Joyce Chen cookbook back in the 60s-70s
You put the chicken in the liquid, bring it to a boil, then cover and shut it off. Leave it half hour. Turn on again, bring just to boil, then shut off again.
Do it till it tests done, clear juices in the thick parts, etc.
She says, and it does remain juicy. Poached chicken in itself is pretty depressing but this way it is quite juicy and not the dry, unhappy thing it otherwise might be.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
Hi KYH,

I'll do some comparative tests next time I buy chicken and see if I can discern the difference. The breast fillet is for tomorrow and looks to be reasonably moist (the rest is pulled and going into a chicken pie) , but I can't really argue against cooking times - nor your or ED's experience for that matter.:chef:

Hello siduri.

That's an interesting method. I use a variation to poach chicken breasts by bringing up to temperature and poaching for 10mins, then resting in the warmed water for approx another 10.
post #8 of 25
Take the cooked breast,sprinkle with cold stock or water wrap tight in plastic wrap and put in fridge. This will keep them nice and moist Reason refrigerators tend to dehydrate and it makes food dry out fast.:chef:
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post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
Cheers ED.
post #10 of 25
I'm no chef, but why would you want to poach a chicken? To put flavor in the liquid, or drain taste from the meat? Why not brine, marinade or inject to add flavor? I honestly don't know, sorry for such a stupid question.:confused:
post #11 of 25
I can't speak for the OP but I LOVE poached chicken. I don't know why but I like the smooth silky texture of the meat. It's also very good for you, no added fats. Tastes great in a chicken sandwich.

I poach chickens because I love poached chicken meat but also because I make stock simultaneously.

I've never in my life understood this "injecting" the meat with flavor. Does this make sense to anyone?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #12 of 25
Andydude, do a google for Kylie Kwong's White Chicken recipe. I do birds sometimes that way, dead easy, walk away and leave it. Don't have to worry about checking all the time whether its simmering or poaching, I think you might enjoy that one.

Chicken turns out great, very moist and tender. Saves on your power bill too :)
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 
Hi BigAl,

Poaching chicken very quickly gives me a moist product with a lot of choices (salads, sandwiches, pies, enchiladas, spring rolls etc.), while adding to the stock it cooks in for use again later.

While I normally expect to add various flavours to the chicken after poaching depending on how I use it, I'm also led to believe the poaching process can add a wide variety of interesting values of it's own. For instance, I haven't personally gone these routes yet, but I understand that poaching in other liquids such as the many flavoured teas, or with something like soy with white wine & ginger, etc. can offer a lot of flavour. As far as I know, there's always the option to brown afterwards if desired.

Being new to lots of these options, I don't see a dull piece of chicken product - just choices and opportunities to learn something new..

I know Ed has spoken of using an injection process to compliment the external process.

http://www.cheftalk.com/forums/274393-post5.html

Thanks for that DC, it's an interesting option. Apart from the quality of the finished chicken, I'd also be interested to see how the temperature of the poaching liquid changes over that period.

Here's a link to the recipe for anybody that might be interested:-

White-Cooked Chicken : Kylie Kwong Recipe *|* LifeStyle FOOD
post #14 of 25
Heh Kylie Kwong.

Im making the assumption that Kyle's method may or may not involve "Master Stock" in the poaching of the chicken/, just hazarding a guess.
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post #15 of 25
Thanks for the help KouKou and Andy.
post #16 of 25
In classic French Cuisine there are many great recipes using poached chicken(Chicken Jeanettes etc) Also for fricasse pot pies , al a kings, crepes. Roasting is a dry heat where if done correctly poaching is not :chef:
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post #17 of 25
Ok, Ed, let me see if i understand.

Correct poaching:
water
chicken
heat

Incorrect poaching:
chicken
heat

Have i got that right?
:)
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #18 of 25
could be stock,or water heat,chicken

Chicken and heat could be grilling , roasting , sauteing, frying, braising, broiling, steaming.
All different types of heat.
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post #19 of 25
yeah, but that would be "incorrect poaching", right?
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #20 of 25
Spot on Nick,Shu :) She explains how to start a master stock, and after cooking you can keep and develop it next time.
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #21 of 25
Thread Starter 
siduri - hi, wouldn't the absence of liquid that's held in the poaching temperature range, mean that it wouldn't be incorrect poaching, so much as non-existent poaching?

I don't really understand why established chefs give recipes for poaching things like chicken that comprise of instructions like bring to the boil and then simmer. I can see there's a health and safety issue for people who have no idea about the progressive temperatures of their food, but then why call the dish a 'poached chicken' if the last thing you want the home cook to do is poach it?
post #22 of 25
I was just trying to be funny :)
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #23 of 25
Thread Starter 
I did wonder :D
post #24 of 25
That's an interesting method.
post #25 of 25
Poaching chicken is a time honored, classic technique. Keep in mind a bit of history. The chickens you get at the market in these modern times are quite young [1] and not really developed. Back in the old days when a much larger percentage of the population lived on farms, chickens were something that you kept around as long as they were reliable sources of eggs. Scraggly old hens eventually made it into the poaching pot. They were tough, stringy old birds and long, slow, wet cooking was the way to make them more palatable. Very flavorful from what I understand, they actually tasted like chicken!

So some recipes and techniques handed down through the years reflect a different sort of animal, be it chicken, pig, lamb, etc. Modern mass produced factory animals are different, sad to say.

mjb.

[1] Most chickens on the mass market are so young their bones have not
fully hardened, and you can bite into a leg or thigh that is fully cooked but find red on the bone. Don't gag, it isn't raw, it is marrow seeping through porous bones.
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