Foolproof way to make perfect poached chicken as a base ingredient for other recipes. Actual prep and paying-attention time totals under 10 minutes.
One whole chicken
Water, about 5 quarts or to cover the chicken
1 T Kosher salt
2 ribs celery with their leaves
2 whole carrots, washed but not peeled
1 onion, sliced into quarters, peeling not needed
½ t peppercorns
1 t salt
3 whole star anise
1 knob of ginger the size of your thumb
Wash and drain the chicken in a large pot and cover with COLD water. Add mix-ins if desired: anise and ginger if making for an Asian dish, everything else for a western dish. Or, don’t add anything; the chicken will still be great.
Cover the pot. Bring the water to the boil, turn off and let the chicken sit in the pot for 3 hours minimum. DO NOT lift the lid at any time; the chicken is not going anywhere so there’s nothing to see in any case. After 3 hours you may remove it for use in your recipes; I like to leave it for about 5 hours till the water cools enough that I can handle the chicken but it’s still well above the temperature where bacteria will grow.
Remove the chicken and dissect for whatever use you have in mind. Return the bones to the pot and reheat the stock. Simmer it, uncovered, until the stock has reduced by half. This will probably take an hour. Drain the stock and, if desired, chill then skim off the fat that hardens on the top.
You now have one perfect chicken and couple of quarts of great chicken stock. Enjoy!
P.S. If you find dark meat undercooked at the center of the chicken as you break it down after cooking, that means you peeked! Or more likely you didn’t use enough water or the pot wasn’t big enough. At this point you can either turn the heat back on/off and give it another hour of cooking, or finish off the rare pieces with a few minutes in the microwave.