How to poach a chicken and make it last the family a whole week

Feb 25, 2024 | 4 comments

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How to poach a whole chicken to use for multiple meals

Why poach a chicken? Two main reasons. Poaching means that your chicken meat will be beautifully moist, much more so than a roasted one, and with little effort on your behalf. And secondly, much less fuel is used to cook it, and little heat is generated, relevant if you are doing this in a kitchen in the summer.

I’d not done poaching of either a whole chicken or chicken pieces before trying this, and I was delighted with the result. Moist, flavourful meat; no need to heat up the oven and super easy to do.

a whole chicken and some vegetables covered with water in a large pot.

In a previous series of recipes, I wrote about how to feed your family on one medium chicken for an entire week. That was with a roasted chicken. This series is using a whole chicken that is poached rather than roasted and uses all new recipes to use throughout a week. Although of course, you can use any of the recipes for either week.

What do I need to poach a whole chicken

  • a whole chicken – don’t wash it. Washing tends to spread anything on the skin of the chicken around the sink, draining board and surrounds, into the air, and is not now recommended. Cooking will get rid of anything that might be there.
  • cold water
  • no salt – I’ve found it is not needed, and may well draw moisture out of the meat, making it drier
  • some aromatics eg
    • celery
    • peppercorns
    • carrots
    • parsley
    • bay leaves
    • these are all optional, you don’t need to use any at all if you don’t have them / don’t want to
  • a large pan to simmer the chicken in

 

Poaching a whole chicken

Prepare a few vegetables for the pot – typically a couple of sticks of celery, a carrot or two, a few peppercorns and some sprigs of parsley and a couple of bay leaves if you have any available. Don’t worry if you haven’t got any or don’t want to use them, it won’t make enough difference to worry about.

vegetables in a white dish to put in a pot to poach a chicken.

Take the chicken out of its wrapping. It is recommended that chicken is not washed as the washing process tends to spread any possible contamination around the kitchen via splashes and aerosol.

a whole, raw, chicken on a plate with a pattern of stripes on it.

Place the chicken in a large pot and the put the vegetables around it.

a whole chicken and some vegetables in a large pot.

Cover the chicken and vegetables with cold water. You just need to cover the chicken, no more than that.

a whole chicken and some vegetables covered with water in a large pot.

Bring the water to the boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes. DO NOT BOIL. Boiling will toughen the chicken meat and make it dry. Turn the chicken over and simmer gently for a further 12 minutes. Turn the heat off, put the lid on the pot and leave the chicken in the hot liquid to go cold. The chicken will finish cooking in this time. Remove the chicken and vegetables from the liquor.

Don’t want to wait for the cooking liquid to go cold? Continue simmering, very gently, for a total of about an hour. Test for doneness by poking a sharp knife in the thigh and check if the juices run clear. Or if you have a thermometer, the chicken will be done when the temperature in the breast or thigh reaches 175F / 80C.

a poached chicken in a white bowl.

Strip the meat from the bones of the chicken.

poached chicken in a white dish stripped from the bones.

Once you have picked off all the meat, put the carcass and any skin and bones back in the poaching liquid. Add a little splash of white vinegar. The acid of the vinegar helps the calcium to leach out of the bones giving you a bit more goodness in your broth. If you have any egg shells, give them a wash and pop the in too. Egg shells are made from calcium and will leach sone into the broth while it is simmering. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 2 or 3 hours. A slow cooker is great for this and will save fuel.

I know you have already poached the chicken, but you will still be able to get more flavour by simmering the bones on their own. Once the stock has finished simmering, pass through a sieve to remove the skin and bones and discard those, although dogs and cats may enjoy the skin.

In the suggested weekly plan, the chicken and rice salad uses some of the stock to cook the rice in, but there will be quite a bit left. I haven’t given any other specific recipes using the broth in this series, so use it for your next soup, to cook rice or pasta for extra flavour, or stash it in the freezer.

Poached chicken recipes

    1. Poached chicken – this recipe
    2. Spaghetti with olives, sultanas and lemon 140g chicken
    3. Oaty, nutty, seedy chicken and mushroom crumble 140g chicken
    4. Chicken and rice salad – red peppers from a jar, peas, gherkins, raisins 140g chicken and some of the stock
    5. Chicken and something Pizza, sweetcorn, onion, red pepper, mozzarella and cheddar – still to come 140g chicken
    6. Coronation Chicken Jacket Potato – still to come 140g chicken
    7. Red Cabbage Waldorf with apple, walnut and dressing – still to come 140g chicken
    8. Chicken Tart with Butternut Squash, Lemon Zest & Parmesan – still to come 140g chicken
  1. this comes out at a total of 28 portions, which is amazing!

 

Can you poach a whole chicken from frozen?

Not really, no. If you’ve got a whole bird in the freezer you’re planning to poach, make sure it’s thawed completely before poaching. Poached chicken from frozen only works when the chicken is thawed completely before cooking.

How long does it take to poach a whole chicken?

It takes 10 minutes, then a further 12 minutes and time to allow the cooking liquid to go cold, about 2 hours. So a total of 22 minutes cooking, and 2 hours cooling.

Or to cook the chicken in one go without waiting for cooling, simmer very gently for an hour. Do not boil, the chicken will go tough and dry.

Can poached chicken be frozen?

Once cooked and cooled, treat the chicken meat just as you would a roasted bird. Strip from the bones, or joint the bird if you prefer. Pack in boxes or bags, label and freeze for up to 3 months, or store in the fridge for 4-5 days.

 

a whole chicken and some vegetables covered with water in a large pot.

How to poach a chicken and make it last the family a whole week

5 from 3 votes
Why poach a chicken? Two main reasons. Poaching means that your chicken meat will be beautifully moist, much more so than a roasted one, and with little effort on your behalf. And secondly, much less fuel is used to cook it, and little heat is generated, relevant if you are doing this in a kitchen in the summer.
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
pus cooling time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 27 minutes
Course:
Dinner
Cuisine:
English
Diabetic
,
Gluten Free
,
Dairy Free
,
Low Salt
freeze by Hare Krishna from the Noun Project
Freezes Well
Cost per portion £4
Calories: 428kcal
Click on the check box to cross off Equipment, Ingredients or Recipe Steps completed.
If you click and buy anything, I may get a small commission on the purchase. It won't cost you anything extra. Some are just things that I like and/or use myself rather than necessarily best value 🙂
If you enjoyed this recipe, would you please consider leaving a review? It would really help

Ingredients

Base

  • 1.5 kg whole chicken smaller or larger works just as well
  • cold water

Aromatics - Optional

  • 3 sticks celery
  • 300 g carrots
  • 50 g parsley
  • 20 peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves

Instructions

  • Prepare a few vegetables for the pot - typically a couple of sticks of celery, a carrot or two, a few peppercorns and some sprigs of parsley if you have any available.
    These are all optional, you don't have to use these if you don't have them / don't want to.
    3 sticks celery, 300 g carrots, 50 g parsley, 20 peppercorns, 2 bay leaves
  • Take the chicken out of its wrapping. It is recommended that chicken is not washed as the washing process tends to spread any possible contamination around the kitchen via splashes and aerosol.
  • Place the chicken in a large pot and the put the vegetables around it.
    1.5 kg whole chicken
  • Just cover the chicken with cold water.
    I don't usually salt the water. Partly because I've found it doesn't need it, and partly because salt will draw moisture from the bird and we want it be kept moist.
    cold water
  • Bring the water to the boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes. DO NOT BOIL. Boiling will toughen the chicken meat and make it dry. Turn the chicken over and simmer for a further 12 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the chicken in the hot liquid to go cold. Remove the chicken and vegetables from the liquor.
  • Once the chicken has cooled, pick off all the and weigh it. A medium chicken, on average, will yield coming up to a kilo of cooked meat.
  • Once you have picked off all the meat, put the carcass and any skin and bones back in the poaching liquid. Add a little splash of white vinegar. The acid of the vinegar helps the calcium to leach out of the bones giving you a bit more goodness in your broth. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 2 or 3 hours. A slow cooker is great for this and will save fuel.
    I know you have already poached the chicken, but you will still be able to get more flavour by simmering the bones on their own. Once the stock has finished simmering, pass through a sieve to remove the skin and bones and discard those, although dogs and cats may enjoy the skin.

Storing the chicken and the stock

  • If you are following the ideas to use the chicken for a whole week, I've found it is most useful to weigh the chicken meat and store it separately for each recipe - don't forget to label the bag with the amount and the recipe it is intended for.
    Or store in the fridge for 4-5 days.
  • Similarly the stock. I would usually divide it into 2 lots and freeze until ready to use, although I make soup so often, it doesn't usually get that far.
    Or it will sit safe in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Equipment Needed

Notes

The poached chicken is part of a series on how to use a medium chicken to feed your family for a whole week.

Poached chicken recipes

    1. Poached chicken - this recipe
    2. Spaghetti with olives, sultanas and lemon 140g chicken
    3. Oaty, nutty, seedy chicken and mushroom crumble 140g chicken
    4. Chicken and rice salad - red peppers from a jar, peas, gherkins, raisins 140g chicken and some of the stock
    5. Chicken and something Pizza, sweetcorn, onion, red pepper, mozzarella and cheddar – still to come 140g chicken
    6. Coronation Chicken Jacket Potato – still to come 140g chicken
    7. Red Cabbage Waldorf with apple, walnut and dressing – still to come 140g chicken
    8. Chicken Tart with Butternut Squash, Lemon Zest & Parmesan – still to come 140g chicken
  1. this comes out at a total of 28 portions, which is amazing!
There is another series, with all different recipes, starting from a roasted chicken 

Roasted chicken recipes 

  1. Roast chicken, 400g chicken, gravy, with stuffing, 4 portions
  2. Risotto, 140g chicken, onion, half the the stock, some vegetables butter and parmesan, 4 portions
  3. Pizza, 117g chicken, tomato sauce, maybe some stuffing, 4 portions
  4. Spicy Pasta Bake, white sauce, 120g chicken, onion, spices, stuffing, 4 portions
  5. Tart, 100g chicken, onions, sweetcorn, couple of eggs, no cheese, stuffing, 4 portions
  6. Pie, 100g chicken, some of the gravy, onion, maybe some sweetcorn or mushrooms, maybe some stuffing, 4 portions
  7. Soup with the remaining half of the stock, red lentils, onion, spices, 4 portions
this also comes out at a total of 28 portions

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
How to poach a chicken and make it last the family a whole week
Serving Size
 
0 g
Amount per Serving
Calories
428
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
27
g
42
%
Saturated Fat
 
8
g
50
%
Trans Fat
 
0.2
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
6
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
11
g
Cholesterol
 
135
mg
45
%
Sodium
 
209
mg
9
%
Potassium
 
734
mg
21
%
Carbohydrates
 
9
g
3
%
Fiber
 
3
g
13
%
Sugar
 
4
g
4
%
Protein
 
35
g
70
%
Vitamin A
 
13972
IU
279
%
Vitamin C
 
25
mg
30
%
Calcium
 
76
mg
8
%
Iron
 
3
mg
17
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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A series of 7 recipes starting with a roast chicken

If you liked this series, have a look at the series starting the week with a roast chicken. They are all different recipes to those in the poaching a chicken series, which you could swap in and out in either week.

How to stretch a chicken to last the whole week

You may think that the recommended amount of chicken in each of these frugal recipes doesn’t look like it would be enough.  I have tested every one of them several times and believe me when I say that they taste of chicken – and are delicious! I wouldn’t recommend them to you if they weren’t.

Adjusting the recipes to accommodate 977g of roast chicken, each making 4 servings, I was able to stretch it to do the following:-

  1. Roast chicken, 400g chicken, gravy, with stuffing, 4 portions
  2. Risotto, 140g chicken, onion, half the the stock, some vegetables butter and parmesan, 4 portions
  3. Pizza, 117g chicken, tomato sauce, maybe some stuffing, 4 portions
  4. Spicy Pasta Bake, white sauce, 120g chicken, onion, spices, stuffing, 4 portions
  5. Tart, 100g chicken, onions, sweetcorn, couple of eggs, no cheese, stuffing, 4 portions
  6. Pie, 100g chicken, some of the gravy, onion, maybe some sweetcorn or mushrooms, maybe some stuffing, 4 portions
  7. Soup with the remaining half of the stock, red lentils, onion, spices, 4 portions

this comes out at a total of 28 portions, which I think is pretty good!

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Thrifty Lesley

    Marjorie – interesting re removing the skin first

  2. Marjorie

    5 stars
    I also only cook my chicken in the slow cooker but I skin it first to cut down on the fat. I also add the leftovers to the pot with vinegar and cook it for soup broth etc.

  3. Thrifty Lesley

    Rachel – thanks for that, useful to know slow cooker instructions

  4. Rachel

    5 stars
    You can also do this with a slow cooker. I put everything you’ve mentioned into a slow cooker, and leave on low overnight. Got get a brilliant layer of golden fat at the top, to be skimmed off, plus the stock.

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