from one generation to the next
Cold cooked chicken is so versatile when it comes to making summer meals . Hot roast chicken is delicious, but a significant amount of the weight is lost from the bird into the roasting pan, and unless the roasting is timed to perfection, the breast meat can be a little dry when chilled.
When the weather forecast is for a succession of hot days, I sometimes poach a whole large organic chicken, and make chicken and mango salad with curried yoghurt dressing or Vietnamese chicken coleslaw. Cold chicken salads are always well received in summer and after the cool change has swept through the fragrant stock makes a light Asian style noodle soup.
When cooking chicken by this method the meat juices accumulate under the skin and set into an unctuous jelly. Be careful when removing the skin from the cooked bird to collect the jelly and add it to the stock. Skim the fat and strain the aromatics from the stock. You can now freeze the stock to reuse as poaching liquor for another chicken at a later date or serve it as a delicious chicken soup.
1 X 1.7kg organic chicken
For the master stock
6 spring onions, washed
3 cloves garlic, smashed
5cm piece root ginger thickly sliced
2 X 10cm sticks cassia bark
4 whole star anise
1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns
2 tablespoons Shao Xing cooking wine
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
Remove the chicken from the fridge.
Choose a lidded pot that will snugly contain the chicken. Put all the ingredients for the stock into the pan, half fill with water, then bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cover and simmer for 1/2 hour so that the aromatics are infused into the water.
Gently add the chicken to the stock breast side down, being sure that the cavity fills with hot stock. The chicken must be completely submerged so add a little more water if necessary.
Return the stock to the boil, then reduce the heat, place a simmer pad under the pot, and cover tightly with the lid. Low simmer for 40 minutes without lifting the lid, then turn off the heat and allow to rest for 1 hour. Transfer the pot to the refrigerator and allow the chicken to cool in the stock overnight.
Remove the chicken from the stock and drain the stock from the cavity back into pan.
Strain the stock and either chill or freeze.
You now have a deliciously moist poached chicken.