Poached chicken has to be one of my family’s favorite meals, especially when in need of total comfort. Although this is the perfect accompaniment to my light and perfectly tender matzo balls, I also often keep poached chicken in the fridge and eat it cold for lunch, with an easy mustard sauce, made by mixing equal amounts of mayo and Dijon mustard. So delish…
Please, if this is the first time you’re poaching chicken and wanting to know how to turn this into an amazing “soup meal,” I highly suggest checking out the videos for both, Chicken Stock and Chicken Soup (since there’s a big difference…). These videos will show you exactly how to be able to, at whim, serve all the players (de-fatted stock, succulent chicken and perfectly cooked vegetables).
For poaching the chicken
- 1 or 2 whole chickens (3 to 3 1/2 pounds each), halved down the back with the necks and gizzards (no liver)
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 large yellow onion, unpeeled, scrubbed, root end removed, and quartered
- 2 stalks celery, cleaned and sliced with leaves
- 2 carrots, scrubbed and sliced
- 1 parsnip, scrubbed and sliced
- 3 sprigs parsley
- Cold water to cover
To poach the chicken
Rinse and dry the chicken pieces and gizzards (reserve livers for another use). Place the chicken and all of the remaining poaching ingredients in an 8-quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot and cover the solids with cold water. Cover pot and bring mixture just up to a boil, over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to very low and simmer chickens, covered, until tender but not dry, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the stove and allow the chickens to become just warm in the broth, uncovered.
If planning to eat the chicken hot, reheat in the broth, over low heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove chicken(s) from the broth and place on a platter. Alternatively, serve the poached chicken just warm or chilled.
If using the chicken in soup
After allowing the poached chicken(s) to sit in the broth until just warm, lift out the chicken and then remove the meat (reserving the skin and bones, separately) and cut or tear it into chunks. Set aside for the soup.
To replenish your stock supply
Return the chicken carcasses, including skin and all bony parts, to the pot of poaching ingredients and bring back up to a boil. (If you have any stray chicken backs, wing tips, necks, etc. in the freezer, add them to the pot.) Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until the stock is rich with a golden color, 1 to 2 hours. As stock simmers, occasionally press hard on the solids to extract all of their goodness. See Chicken Stock to follow straining, chilling and de-fatting steps.