Poaching is a very delicate cooking method that bathes poultry in a gently bubbling liquid just below a boil. The result is moist, succulent meat with a light, clean flavor that is ideal for salads, sandwiches, and soups. Poached poultry also, as shown in the recipe for Poached Chicken with Star Anise & Ginger, is superb on its own with a light sauce. It is low in fat because no oil is needed, but high in flavor because the poaching liquid draws goodness from the meat and bones.
The key to perfectly poached poultry is to keep the heat at a constant temperature throughout cooking. For the most delicious result, select a pot made of a material that will heat evenly and maintain temperature and is large enough to allow the hot liquid to move freely around the chicken pieces.
It is best to let just-cooked poached chicken sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. This resting period allows the chicken to cool so you can handle it comfortably and also recirculates the juices so they donít pour out when the meat is cut. If desired, return the bones to the pot after removing the meat and simmer for chicken broth (see our technique for making chicken broth).
In addition to poaching, we demonstrate how to skin, bone, cube, and shred precooked chicken, whether poached, microwaved, or roasted (see our recipe for Basic Roast Chicken), to make it ready for the delicious dishes that youíll find on this site.
Place meaty chicken pieces or a whole chicken in a large Dutch oven. Add water to cover (about 6 cups) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover with the lid, and simmer until tender and cooked through.
Removing the Skin and Meat
Set the cooled poached chicken on a cutting board. Pull off the skin and discard. The meat should be tender enough that it will release from the bone with a light tug. If not, cut away with a knife.
Cutting Up Cooked Chicken
Once the skin is removed and the meat taken off the bone, the cooked chicken can be cut up to suit any recipe. Use a sharp knife and cut it into slices, or cut it into cubes by cutting the slices crosswise.
Shredding Cooked Chicken
Some recipes for soups and salads require shredded chicken meat. To shred, steady a piece of cooked boned, skinned chicken with a fork and pull the fibers apart with a second fork.