Chicken Poach


There are times when it’s easy to purchase a rotisserie chicken, cut up the meat, and use it in soup, a salad, or in enchiladas. Sure, it saves time, but I’ve never purchased one that wasn’t overcooked. Delis have different temperature guidelines than I do.

Roasting your own chicken is simple, and I don’t think there’s anything much more wonderful than serving a just-roasted chicken.


However, there are two benefits to poaching a chicken. One is the lovely tender meat, and the second is the wonderful poaching liquid. And there are so many different ways to create a flavorful broth besides the basic onion, carrot, and celery. So I take my chicken poaching quite seriously!

Poaching a chicken takes a few hours from start to finish, but it’s not all active work. I recommend that you have a plan for the poached chicken. You can use the meat in a bastilla, pictured at the top, in soups, stews, crêpes and enchiladas, a byriana, a curry – the possibilities are endless.

Then I would also recommend that you have a plan for the remaining chicken broth. It can be used for cooking legumes and grains, as a base for soups and stews, or reduced and even frozen for future use.


Chicken Poach

1 whole chicken
3-4 carrots, cleaned, halved
3-4 stalks celery, cleaned, chopped coarsely
A few ripe tomatoes, halved (optional)
Bunch of parsley*
1 large onion, quartered
Garlic cloves, halved
Whole peppercorns
Bay leaves

Remove the plastic bag of innards from the chicken. Then rinse the chicken and place the chicken in a large and deep pot. I prefer a pasta cooker because you can remove the chicken and vegetables without further straining the broth.

If your husband isn’t watching, add the innards to the pot. If he’s eyeing you, save the innards for the dogs.

Add the remaining ingredients, adjusting for your tastes.


If you are not using a pasta cooker, you can use a muslin bag for your seasonings.


Add water to cover the chicken. Place the pot on the stove, bring the water to a boil, cover the pot and reduce the heat to simmer. I like to poach a chicken for about 1 1/2 hours; you can’t overcook the chicken but you want to maintain the volume of water.


For additional ingredients, consider fresh herbs like sprigs of rosemary, sage, and thyme. Or use whole cumin and coriander seeds. It all depends what you want the remaining broth to taste like. These additions have little effect on the chicken’s flavor, but significantly flavor the broth.

Once the chicken is poached, remove the lid and let the pot rest until the chicken can be handled safely. If you’re using a pasta cooker, gently remove the insert and let the broth drain. Save the broth! Never discard it.

Carefully place the chicken on a cutting board to further cool.


If everything was cooked in one pot, remove the muslin bag and let the broth cool. Taste the broth and reduce it if the flavor needs to concentrate. It can also be salted at this point if desired.


Remove the meat from the bones. It will be delicate light and dark meat.


From this small-sized chicken, I ended up with 1 pound 4 ounces of meat.
If you want to enhance your broth, place the chicken bones in the broth and simmer for a while. Another thing that I’ve done is to blend the cooled broth along with the carrots, celery, tomatoes, onion, and garlic. The parsley is optional. That way, the broth is already more soupy, and the vegetables don’t go to waste.

Enjoy your poached chicken and home-made chicken broth!

* If you will be using the chicken broth for a Southwestern or Mexican dish, I suggest substituting cilantro for parsley.

59 thoughts on “Chicken Poach

  1. I don’t know why I’ve never thought to use my pasta maker! This post is getting me in the soups and stews mood even though there’s so many ways to use chicken like this. I agree that the store birds are sawdust dry!

    • I once had just gotten back into town and ran to the store to stock up. I needed a rotisserie chicken so as to have something to eat and asked the deli for one. She said they were still cooking , and I told her I didn’t care. She poked a few with a thermometer and said that they were only to 150 degrees and I begged her to let me have one. She hesitated, but I got it, and it was wonderful! Probably in a big city it would have been illegal!!!

  2. I agree it is much easier to use a pasta pot. Secondly, the ladies that hold the rotisserie chickens hostage are sticklers to the rule. At least you were able to pry one from their grips. That would never happen at my store. :) I love that little spice pouch-must get one.

  3. Thanks for this post, it’s a very handy one to have around. The place I buy my rotisserie chickens from always cooks them to perfection, but as I’m getting ready to move that may be something that I won’t have in my new home. Now at least I can make my own ;-)

  4. Dear Mimi I can no longer comment on your website because I don’t have a word press account and therefore cannot log in. Could you possibly take off the restrictions please. I like your blog. Thank you Gerlinde de Broekert @ Sunnycovechef

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. I like your choice of chicken and your broth looks just right!
    Plus, I’ve been wanting toll Marie B’stilla forever,but with squabs instead of chicken.
    Very nice post!

  6. We lov ea Chinese boiled chicken Mimi. It’s simply cooked in water and ginger. 10 minutes boiling, 20 minutes simmering and then allowed to cool overnight. It’s a Chinese traditional cooking method called ‘cooking on a reducing heat’ (not surprisingly). Lovely post (as usual).

  7. Poached chicken is wonderful, and you’re not alone with overcooked precooked rotisseried chickens. Like Conor I use the Chinese method. Make the stock, you can use the same aromatics as you have here or use ginger, star anise, cinnamon, orange rind, and let it simmer for 30 – 60 minutes for the flavour to infuse. Turn up the heat, add the chicken being sure that the cavity fills with stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat so a low simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, turn off the heat, let the pot cool for about an hour then chill the pot with the stock and chicken overnight in the fridge. I think this is THE best way to poach a chicken. Give it a try, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

    • They are really handy. Plus, there are larger muslin bags that you can put your whole chicken and goodies in, and when the chicken is done, you can pull out the bag. Much finer than using the pasta cooker, and disposable!

  8. Posts like this really make sense – we all forget how easy it is to make something like this ourselves and all-too-easily rely on the rotisserie chicken at the market. Thanks for the reminder, Mimi!

  9. There’s nothing like a poached chicken. By funny coincidence, I had one just the other day, to make soup to nurse the cold I seem to have caught on vacation… Use the meat for a tetrazzini casserole (now that’ll take you back!) but as you say there are so many, many uses for it. I particularly love the poached chicken just as it is, steaming from the pot, with Italian salsa verde. Yum!

  10. I poach my chicken about the same way you do but not in a pasta pot! What a great idea! I have made chicken soup longer than I can remember and always dreaded trying to get all of the bones, etc. out of the broth. I have a huge pasta pot too so you can bet I will bring it out the next time I make soup or poach chicken :)

  11. I definitely agree with you on both counts…the deli chickens are always overcooked and pouching a chicken gives you tender moist chicken as well as a flavorful broth.

  12. I’ve been studying that first photograph as though my life depends upon it. It’s so beautiful Mimi. Is it a pie? A chicken pot pie? Whatever it is – you should enter that photograph into a photography exhibition. Is the recipe somewhere on your blog. I’m a bit obsessed with this….

  13. Looking at your photos of the chicken in the pot with the vegetables provided me with a flashback to my youth, watching Mom make her Sunday brodo. The poached meat was often served for that day’s lunch. It was good then and I’m sure yours is at least as good today. :)

  14. Hi Mimi! Firstly thanks for following my little food blog – and delighted to follow your fab blog back! I remember my mum often poaching chicken, and loving the results. I’ve never actually done it myself, but this has prompted me to do it. I love the frugality of it too: not wasting the broth afterwards that can be used so many ways. Thanks for the post!! xxx

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