Today, a confession and a little rant. The confession: until recently when we've been busy we've given in to the "Rotisserie Chicken" option from the supermarket. We knew it was industrially-raised, high-fat, high-sodium, moisture-injected, past its prime, potentially bacteria-ridden, hormone- and pesticide-laced garbage but we held our noses and ate it anyway, for convenience.
The rant: what's wrong with us (and all the other people who fuel the Rotisserie Chicken industry)? What's so hard about recognizing that days will be busy and dealing with it ahead of time? Go to the farmers' market, find the chicken guy (in our case, Maine-ly Poultry, from Warren, Maine, who sell free-range organic birds that have never been frozen) and buy a healthy chicken. Poach it with this easy-peasy method – with flavorings or not, as you wish – and so have on hand a supply of moist, healthy, low-fat, no-carbohydrate, flavorful meat for quick meals. And bonus: you get a quart or so of excellent-quality chicken broth out of the deal, so you can say goodbye to those sodium-laden boxes of industrial broth.
What do I use the poached chicken for? Chicken salad, chicken sandwiches, chicken quesadillas, chicken fried rice, chicken soup, chicken pasta dishes...you get the idea: once you have a storage container full of good chicken meat in the refrigerator those hurry-up meals aren't a problem any more. And you don't find yourself eating garbage and telling yourself it's food.
Regarding the additions to the broth in the recipe: they flavor the chicken very mildly. I usually use the Asian approach (star anise, Szechuan pepper, lemongrass, ginger, etc.) but it's just as good with only the basic broth-making group: celery, onion, carrot, parsley stems, bay leaf. Thyme or oregano are other additions to consider but in my view these should be an alternative to the Asian flavoring group. The lemon I think is always an enhancement but it's not necessary. The key thing is: don't get hung up on the accoutrements. Get a chicken, fill a pot with water and get it cooked. Even with no additions to the broth you'll be in a much better place than you were when you were eating supermarket garbage.
Please excuse the rant....I usually try to be more civil!
- 1 chicken, 4-5 pounds
- 1 carrot, peeled and quartered
- 2 celery ribs, cut in 2" pieces
- 1 onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 10 parsley stems
- 2 bay leaves
- Water to cover
- 10 star anise
- 10 cloves
- 10 coriander seeds, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon Szechuan pepper, ground
- 4 split lemongrass stalks
- 3" piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
- 6 stems fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 lemon, quartered
1. Place the chicken, carrot, celery, onion, peppercorns, parsley stems, bay leaves and optional ingredients as desired in a large pot. Fill with water to cover.
2. Bring the water to a boil and allow to boil for 2 minutes. Skim off any foam that develops.
3. Remove the pot from heat. Cover tightly and allow the chicken to steep for 4 hours.
4. Remove the chicken to a side plate. When cool, remove chicken skin and discard. Refrigerate chicken for later use.
5. Bring the cooking liquid to a boil and reduce by half.
6. Strain the broth and refrigerate overnight. Remove and discard congealed fat.