Saturday, 29 January 2011
When boiled chicken is better than roast
My husband's not been feeling too good the last few days - some strange bug that's made him feel a bit queasy - so I decided to make him some boiled chicken. How unappetising does that sound - or indeed look? You have to say there are no comparisons between the colour and aroma of a roast chicken and the slightly pallid, slithery looking appearance of a poached one.
Get over that, however and you've got yourself a feast. I covered the chicken - a basic free-range one from Tesco (oops, sorry, but it's been hectic this week) - with water, added a cut onion, two carrots, a bayleaf and a few white peppercorns, brought it to the boil, skimmed it then put it in the Aga simmering oven for about 50 minutes. Breast side downwards for the first 20 minutes then I flipped it over. You can obviously do it without an Aga but don't let it boil. The cooking liquid should barely tremble.
I cut up a leek, two more carrots and a stick of celery and put them in a shallow pan with a teaspoon of bouillon powder and a ladleful of the chicken stock and half-boiled/half-steamed them, adding extra ladles of stock as the stock evaporated until the veg were just cooked. I prefer that to putting them in the cooking liquid as they they get too soggy. Once they were done I added about half the remaining chicken stock, fished out the onion, sliced it and added it to the veg and chucked in a handful of parsley.
I took one of the breasts off the chicken and cut it thickly on the slant, put the slices in two shallow bowls and spooned over the fresh veg and stock. Meal one which would have made four portions (or seconds if we'd been hungrier).
Last night I skimmed the rest of the stock and added a finely grated chunk of ginger, a large grated clove of garlic, a small red chilli, some finely sliced coriander stalks and a finely sliced spring onion brought it to the boil, seasoned it with a little soy sauce and set it aside to infuse.
I took all the meat off one chicken leg and shredded it and cut one of the carrots into fine strips, cooked them in a little of the broth then added them back to the soup. Then I added the chicken, a shredded spring onion, a good handful of coriander leaves and brought the soup to the boil, simmered it a minute then served it. Again, a meal that's delicate on the stomach but full of flavour. Enough for 2-4 helpings
Finally I chopped the meat from the other leg up finely, added a finely sliced spring onion and stick of celery, a dollop of mayo, a bit of chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon and voilà a sandwich filling for two large sandwiches.
So from one five pound(ish) chicken (£5.35 actually) I got 10 servings which isn't bad. You get less shrinkage from boiling a chicken, more moistness and certainly better flavour for these kind of dishes. And perfect food if you're not feeling 100%!