On Poaching a Chicken & Hungry Teenagers

My almost 14-year-old is always hungry and wants meat! We have traditionally not eaten much meat but after my extensive chemo therapy a few years ago I started eating more to rebuild my blood, which I was reminded of yesterday when my son said: “the only good thing that came out of your cancer was that we now eat more meat!”

 

There are of course other studies that show limiting or eliminating animal products potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer reoccurrence. So, the kid wants meat, I probably should limit it, AND we’re lucky to have access to plenty of delicious and nutritious food so it’s a luxury problem for sure.

 

Also, raising and eating meat is complicated. Industrial meat production wreaks havoc on people, planet and the animals themselves. And regenerative agriculture can build soil, sequester carbon and produce excellent meat. Who has access to that meat is another tricky question. Much work is to be done to move away from industrial and make regenerative more feasible and the products more accessible. . . .

Meantime, if you get your hands on a whole chicken, poach it, because:

  • ~3 quarts of rich broth
  • Tender meat that comes off the bone easily
  • Less messy than roasting

If you paid $20+ for that farm-raised chicken you can easily get 4 meals out of it, and far more if you count all the ways you’ll use the broth.  . . That is if you use the chicken like in the salad pictured above and other dishes where the meat is a component or accent but not the bulk of the meal.

 

So far with this about 3.5 lb poached chicken I’ve made:

  • Thai curry with some of the broth and meat, coconut milk, red peppers, potatoes and basil over rice
  • Tacos with the meat seasoned with chili powder and briefly satueed
  • Quesadillas with lots of cilantro
  • Cabbage, vermicelli, salad with soy/fish sauce/lime vinaigrette and toasted peanuts
  • I still have enough meat left for a couple of tacos or a burrito which my kid will put away as a snack any time of day
  • I have 2 quarts of broth left for risotto, soup, pipian, . . . .

 

Poaching a Chicken

One 3.5 – 4lb chicken fully thawed if previously frozen.

 

1. Rinse the chicken and giblets/neck (if there were any) under cold running water and shake off any water.

 

2. Put the chicken in a large pot with ½ an onion, chopped up a bit, 1-2 carrots, quartered, 3 stalks celery and any attached celery leaves, chopped up a bit. You can skip the celery in a pinch as I had to above.

 

3. Add 2 teaspoons whole peppercorns; a clove of garlic (peeled and crushed); 2 bay leaves and a couple sprigs of thyme and parsley if you have them.

 

4. Cover the chicken with water, add 2 teaspoons sea or Kosher salt and bring to a boil. Then lower to a simmer, cover and cook 45 minutes.

 

5. Turn off the heat and let chicken sit in the broth to cool for 30 minutes (or longer). Remove the chicken and transfer it to pan or a rimmed baking sheet to cool further. Check to see if the chicken is fully cooked and the meat comes off the bones easily and the juices run clear. Strain and use broth immediately or strain into quart or pint jars and refrigerate or freeze for future use. Use it for soup, risotto, sauces like Pipian Verde, etc. The chicken will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up about 6 days.

 

6. When the chicken is cool enough to handle pull off all the meat.

 

The juicy poached chicken meat is wonderful in chicken noodle soup, chicken salad, enchiladas, moles, tacos, curries, chicken pot pie, pasta dishes, etc. Alternately, you could let the poached chicken cool for about five minutes and then just pull it apart into the main eight pieces (two each of breast, thigh, drumstick and wing) and serve with the broth and some potatoes and a green salad.