Are you doing the picnic thing? We have been and we've been craving classic Kiwi picnic flavours - comfort food, picnic style. A poached whole chicken is a super simple and classic technique that yields the most succulent, delicately flavoured bird that's perfect for salads, wraps and sandwiches (especially picnic clubs). Here's how we cook our poached chook:
1 x 1.5kg chicken (free range is good)
1 onion - peeled and quartered
1 large carrot - peeled and quartered
2 stalks of celery - chopped
A few stalks of parsley
A dozen black peppercorns.
Remove the chicken from its packaging, rinse it and place it on a board breast side up. I like to flex and open the thigh joints and wings a little to ensure your hot liquid gets to every part of the bird for even cooking.
Place the chicken into a roomy pot or stockpot (deep enough to cover the bird with room to spare). Toss in your aromatics (the other stuff above*), cover with cold water and a lid and place on your stove. Turn your heat to medium-high and slowly bring the water to the boil. Once it's boiling, turn the heat down until it's barely simmering, place lid back on loosely (so it doesn't boil over) and cook for 20 mins. Then, and here's the trick to perfectly poached chicken, set lid back on firmly and turn the heat off. Leave the chicken to cool completely in the stock. Once cold remove the chicken from the stock (which you can cook down further to use in soups, risottos, etc) and strip all the meat from the bones.
Store your shredded chicken in the fridge immediately and use within three days. We used ours for Coronation chicken.
*Aromatics – you should feel free to change out the ‘flavours’ of your aromatics depending on your finished dish. Often I will swap out the classics of onion, celery, carrot etc for Asian inspired flavours like fresh ginger, soy, star anise, cinnamon quills and Chinese cooking wine and then use the meat for noodle and grain salads with an Asian inspired dressing.