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.
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
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.
What a great idea for using a pasta pot. I am always juggling with a colander and getting in a mess!
Oh yeah! It works wonders! And saves a few pots and colander so.
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!!!
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.
They are, but they probably have to be. It was pure luck for me, but she was really nervous about the whole thing! I can’t remember if I got the little muslin bags from Penzey’s or Williams-Sonoma. Of course you can use cheesecloth, but these are so handy!
They’re so cute bull look for them.
Very clever using your pasta pot. Many meals can be made from one chicken alone – very economical and extremely flavourful.
That’s so true. It’s so worth the time!
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 ;-)
Oh that’s nice – you’ve been very lucky. Good luck in your new destination!
If your husband isn’t watching, add the innards to the pot. I
BEST LINE EVER!!!!! ;-)
He honestly thinks I stick liver in everything.
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
Gerlinde, I would love to do that. Can you please tell me how?!!!
I actually think i did it!!!
You did Mimi, thank you .
This is a really good post, thank you Mimi
Thanks so much!
Mimi I love the tip about combining the vegetables and not discarding them for a more heartier of broth!! Thank you my friend! ♥
When I do that I definitely put the little goodies in a muslin bag so I don’t have to pick it all out!
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!
Thank you. I figured out what you meant! My problem is just not proofreading!!!
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).
Very interesting. I have some very old Chinese cookbooks but have never seen as recipe like this! Good to know!
Instead of toll marie it should read to make…this autocorrect feature really gets on my nerves:-)
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.
I will try it! I love to change up the poaching seasoning, but have never use the ones you suggested. It almost sounds like Christmas!!!! thaks!
That roasted chicken , top photo, looks absolutely perfection and | can almost taste the crispy skin! Yum, yum! I have never added bay leaves to my stock and will definitely be trying that. Wonderful post Mimi :)
I use a lot of bay leaves. Even though I get mine through Penzey’s, and they’re from Turkey, they’re just never strong enough for me!!!
What a brilliant way to get tender cooked chicken and chicken stock all at once. I need to get some muslin bags for spices. Great tool.
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!
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!
You are so welcome! Hope you’re feeling better!
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!
Oh that sounds lovely!
Really love the sound of this. There’s nothing quite as comforting as poached chicken – this looks so tasty.
Isn’t that the truth? Such tender and mild meat.
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 :)
There are also these mesh bags that are available, that you put the chicken and everything in. They’re like a muslin tube sock. When the chicken is done, you just pull out the bag and voila! Can’t remember where I got them but I love that they’re disposable.
I think I know so much and then along comes a new tip (for me anyways) :)
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.
It’s just a win-win!
We always use the pasta pot to make stock, too. Works great.
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….
Oh, it’s a Moroccan bastila.
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. :)
That’s such a lovely memory! I also love the frugality of poaching a chicken, something that remains fairly inexpensive to begin with, fortunately.
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
You are so welcome! The poached chicken is so tender and can be used in so many ways, so to me it’s worth the time and effort.
You make a good case for taking the time to do it right. GREG
Love chicken food. Great post