Poached chicken has a reputation for being dry, bland, and boring, but it doesn't have to be that way. Some recipes circumvent this problem by bringing the poaching liquid to a boil, turning off the heat, and leaving the chicken in the poaching liquid until it has completely cooled off (the residual heat cooks it gently and completely). Personally, I prefer a more hands-off method: using a slow cooker. Not only do you not need to watch the pot, but it's even gentler and thus harder to mess up, as the water never hits a boiling point.
The results speak for themselves: the chicken is tender, moist, and juicy. Plus, the poaching liquid can be repurposed as a delicate chicken stock. (Just strain off the aromatics.) Two things for the effort of one!
- 4 smallish carrots, rinsed and roughly chopped
3 celery stalks, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 leek, thoroughly rinsed and roughly chopped
1 smallish onion, peeled or unpeeled, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds)
8 cups water
- Add all of the aromatics to a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker — a smaller slow cooker will be too small — place the chicken on top, breast up. Then add the water, adding more if the chicken isn't covered (or almost covered). Cook on high for 2 to 3 hours (or on low for 4 or more hours), or until the chicken reaches 165°F.
- When the chicken is cooked, lift it out of the slow-cooker. Let it rest for at least 20 minutes, and carve it into portions. Discard the aromatics, then pour the stock through a fine-mesh strainer. (For the clearest stock, line the fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth before straining.)
- Main Dishes, Game
- North American
- 1 poached chicken plus 8 cups chicken stock