Thursday, 2 July 2009

What Should I Have for Dinner Tonight?...Not Chicken Again, Surely?

What do you like most about chicken? I have no doubt that many people - even some who love chicken very much - may have to think about their answer to this question. For me, there is no need to do so: I love chicken most of all for its quite incredible versatility. There are so many ways in which we can cook and prepare chicken that entire cookbooks have been produced on this one foodstuff.

In this post, I am going to begin the process of exploring just how much value we can get out of one chicken, in terms of the number of meals or dishes it can provide for us, even over the course of two days or more. I hope to look at some original ideas over the course of the next few posts to this blog for ways of serving the chicken.

In this instance, I am poaching the chicken but it could of course be such as roasted (as elsewhere on this blog.) I know that many people think poaching a chicken either makes the meat very dry or does not create the best flavour but if it is poached correctly, it can be quite delicious.

I always buy free range and if possible, organic chicken. Yes, it is more expensive, but I truly believe that the difference in quality justifies the additional expense. When buying a chicken for poaching, also ensure that you do not buy one which will not fit in to your biggest pot!

I begin by placing the chicken in to the pot and then adding one chopped onion, one chopped carrot and three or four cloves of roughly chopped garlic. I then add boiling water up to about an inch below the rim of the pot, ensuring that the whole chicken is covered. I then bring the water back to the boil and let it simmer gently for an hour to an hour and a quarter, depending on the size of the chicken. As always, ensure that the chicken is fully cooked by checking that the juices run clear when you remove it from the pot.

I usually cover the chicken and allow it to cool for half an hour to an hour before attempting to carve it and chop it up. This makes the process much easier! I then cut off the legs and thighs and the wings, before very carefully slicing the two entire breast fillets off. These six portions, I use in different ways. Don't forget also to pull the remaining bits of flesh off the chicken, which can also be incorporated very effectively in many dishes. Remember to refrigerate the chicken not used on day one and use it the following day.

The chicken stock should be sieved to remove the pieces of vegetable and then allowed to cool before being refrigerated for use the next day, or even put in the deep freeze for later use.

In my next posts, I will begin looking at the manys ways in which we can go on to use the chicken pieces we now have prepared.

Below are details of two fantastic Chicken Cookbooks, available to buy as always at the best prices on and

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