Recipe: Chicken in a Pot

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
Optional add-ins:
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.

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One Response to Recipe: Chicken in a Pot

  1. Burnt My Fingers says:

    Reply to Steve, who wanted to know over in the “helpful bread” post if it wouldn’t be a good idea to simmer the chicken a bit: if it makes you feel better from a food safety standpoint, go ahead. You’ll have to watch it and skim the detritus which rises to the surface, which goes against the no-brainer nature of this recipe. Instead, how about go ahead and follow the recipe, using plenty of water in a good size pot, then dissect the chicken. I guarantee the breast will be perfectly cooked. If you find dark meat lurking at the joints of the thighs, go ahead and simmer those pieces a bit.

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