Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Poached Chicken



Now I love a roasted chicken as much as the next guy, assuming the next guy is Simon Hopkinson. In other words, I really love roast chicken. But if you're not going to eat the whole thing as soon as it comes out of the oven, with your bare hands, hunched over the skillet, dredging it in its own fat, roasting may not be the wisest use of a bird.

If you're cooking a chicken to eat all week, poaching provides a much moister option. Cold roasted chicken, by which I mean a roasted chicken that has been refrigerated and not some feat of molecular gastronomy, is quite delicious but seems so much tougher and drier than when you ate it hot. Yet poached chicken can stay downright silky when cool, even a few days after refrigeration.

In the past I've always boiled, but Fuchsia Dunlop has turned me on to the magical texture of the gentle poach. See the awesome Land of Plenty for the full technique, but the basic idea is that you boil water, add the chicken, bring back to a boil, simmer, then "plunge" the chicken into cold water to stop the cooking process. Here's mine in it's cooling bath/watery grave.



You think any chicken cooked in liquid is moist and tender, but you've never had it this good. Another bonus is that you're then left with the poaching liquid, which in my case also contained about a thumb's worth of a crushed ginger, a few pathetic old carrots that looked like a very tan witch's fingers, and a dried chili from Common Ground a few years back.

I drank the liquid in a bowl of noodles with a few paper thin (assuming the paper was cardstock) slices of raw kohlrabi. Doesn't that seem like something you can do?

Apart from the brutal murder of the chicken, it was a remarkably tranquil dish.

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