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Poached Chicken

Poached-chicken
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!

Poached Chicken

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Ingredients 

  • 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

Optional: 

  • 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

Method

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. 

Nutritional Estimate: 1 Serving (1/2 cup chicken meat only). Per serving: 133 Calories; 0 g Total Carbs; 0 g Dietary Fiber; 0 g Sugars; 4 g Fat; 62 mg Cholesterol; 60 mg Sodium; 20 g Protein. Weight Watchers: 3 points.

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Comments

This way of poaching is so easy and so good! My Burmese friends taught me to do it slightly differently, to plunge the chicken into a large pot of boiling water, which prevents the scum, and then bring it back to a hard boil, cover, and turn it off. Let it cool, then submerge it for an hour in soy sauce flavored with any combination of seasonings you like. I usually include star anise, coriander, cinnamon, pepper, and lemon grass, but it can vary. I also keep this marinade refrigerated and use it over and over. This chicken is so tender and flavorful. The cooking water gets boiled down for broth. I'm going to try your way. And PS: the day will come for you when you find the taste of that rotisserie chicken too disgusting to eat. I love your site.

Sounds so simple. I have never tried this recipe for poaching, but I can't help but wonder how one knows for certain that the chicken is thoroughly cooked? The exposure to heat seems limited for the center of the 4-5 pound chicken. I usually keep the chicken and water over heat longer.

Hi Jane...


Thank you so much for visiting (again) and taking the time to leave such a nice message...and thanks for giving your method for what sounds like a very flavorful poached chicken!
By the way, I think Ive had my last Rotisserie Chicken already...

Hi Lea...


Thanks for your comment. Id suggest using an instant read thermometer to satisfy yourself that the chicken is cooked through. The USDA publishes temperatures for cooked meats at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Is_It_Done_Yet/Brochure_Text/index.asp .... Overcooked chicken suffers flavor loss and texture degradation (in other words, tastes like cardboard) so I try to avoid overcooking. Some consider the USDA temperatures to be a bit conservative... with roast chicken I routinely take it out of the oven at 157º and let it rest for 15-20 minutes, during which time the temperature rises within a degree or two of the USDA recommendation of 165º. I find this to be perfect in terms of taste and texture.

Rant on Stephen. We can’t do enough to raise awareness of the pity of industrially raised chicken (and beef and pork, etc). It’s akin to sausagemaking -- you don’t want to see the sausage made; UNLESS you know your farmer. Ask your farmer if you can visit the farm and see how he raises his chickens. If he says no, find another farmer. Yes, that takes effort. Yes, his chickens are more expensive, but c’mon, you’re putting that food in your body, have some respect for yourself and your family. Thanks for stepping outside the recipe-of-the-day box.
 

Hi Marcus...thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave your thoughtful comment...I couldnt agree with you more.

I can't beleive that you would actually admit on this blog that you went to a supermarket and bought anthing cooked there to eat!Sorry, I am type 2 and would never, ever do that.

Hi Charles...thanks for coming by and leaving your comment.


I think each of us is on our own in the type 2 battle...for me, after two years of careful monitoring and recording of exercise, blood glucose levels, weight, calories, carbs, protein and fiber intake Ive found that I can eat anything I like as long as I make my target numbers -- and in that time Ive moved my A1c level from 8.8% at diagnosis to 5.9% (my doctor also increased my metformin dose by 50% over what I had been taking pre-diagnosis). The key, as you probably know, is balance and portion control. If I eat this, then I wont eat that today, because if I ate the two of them Id be out of balance.


This works for me, and I think it reduces some of the stress thats inherent in living with type 2.All the the emphasis on discipline and control suggests that diabetics are responsible for the consequences of the disease, and for many that translates into feeling guilty a lot of the time when in fact were just human and not perfect little health machines.This is most acute when were with others who know what we should be doing (like you and me). Im working hard on ignoring other peoples rules and just following the regimen that I know works for me, since stress is as bad for diabetics as poor food choices or lack of exercise.


Ive worked hard over the last two years to find and refine the diabetes diet rules so I could write about them for my readers who need that information, and Ive concluded that there are no rules that fit everyone....which is another reason that diabetes is so tough to deal with for so many people. If there were a rule(like dont eat potatoes or dont buy prepared food in a supermarket)which if we followed would keep the disease under control,that would be great. But there isnt such a rule, or even a set of rules, other than to be mindful of what you eat, how much exercise you get, your weight, and the relationship of all these things to your blood glucose levels.


There are lots of paths to reducing the complications of diabetes and we each have to find our own.


Two notes...

I'm grinning as I type this... Just yesterday I finally succumbed to a rotisserie chicken purchase & was disappointed at the meal (and my decision).

So glad that you've given me a quick-meal option.

Thanks. No more rotisserie chicken for me!!!

Hi! Found you as a link from a Yahoo article about poaching chicken breasts. We are extremely guilty of the Rotisserie Chicken habit, but your way sounds infinitely better, since my husband hates chicken skin, and we both try to look the other way at the overall greasiness of them...I'm actively trying to lose weight, and your recipe provides a perfect way to cook chicken without turning it into dry, stringy hunks, or greasy things. I bet it would work well with cornish hens, too! Thank you SO much for sharing this!
~M

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