Poached Chicken

Most Sundays we have a traditional roast dinner. This week I onlu had skinless chicken breasts in the fridge and I have always found roasting chicken breasts usually results in dry tough chicken. If using chicken portions, my preference is to use chicken thighs and legs.

So, in the end I sliced into the chicken, added a stuffing consisting of onion, mushrooms and basil. This I then wrapped in foil before poaching for twenty minutes. After cooking, I let them rest for at least five minutes before opening the foil parcels and slicing them.

PotatoesWith them I did some roast potatoes. Firstly you need to use the right kind of potatoes. It’s not as simple as buying any kind, the cheapest or whatever. This time I went with King Edward (as that was all that was available in the shop, well there were other varieties, but no Maris Piper.

After peeling and cutting into chunks the potatoes are blanched in boiling water for about 7-10 minutes depending on the size of the chunks. Now the size if dependent on how you like your roast poatoes and how long you have to cook them. Obviously smaller chunks means a shorter cooking time, whilst larger chunks though take longer are preferred by some people.

While the potatoes are blanched, place the roasting tray into the oven, with a good splash of olive oil and one of sunflower oil. The key here is to heat the pan and the oil. I put the pan into the hot oven (with the oil added) for at least five minutes, not too long though.

After blanching the potatoes, drain and the key here is to let the heat dry the potatoes. If they go into the pan “wet” they won’t crisp up well. The next stage is to slightly “bash” the potatoes by shaking the colander or sieve, this will aid the crisping process too. Then remove the roasting pan from the oven and add the potatoes, turning them and maybe a little more “bashing”.

You should also ensure that the potatoes are not too crowded, in other words they need air to be crisp.

Cooked for thirty to forty minutes (larger potatoes take longer). It is a good idea to turn the potatoes half way through to ensure a more even crispness. The end result should be tasty, crisp potatoes with a fluffy centre.

I also roasted some parsnips, carrots and onions. These I just cut into chunks. Place in a bowl, add some olive oil, mix to ensure the vegetables are well coated before placing in a hot oven for about twenty to thirty minutes.

Ready for roastingIn addition in another roasting pan, I took some diced onion, sliced courgette, mushrooms and halved cherry tomatoes, these I roasted with a good dash of olive oil for ten minutes before adding some cubes of bread that soak up the juices and crisp up. Usually I will add these ingredients to the roasting tray I have roasted the meat in. However as I was poaching I just used a plain tray.

For gravy I made my own with a roux of butter, oil and flour to which I add stock and some red wine. Cook for at least five minutes.

To add colour and freshness I steamed some carrots, green beans and broccoli to serve with the meal.

Poached Eggs

This morning I had poached eggs for breakfast. I don’t use a egg poaching pan, simply a pan of simmering water.

Bring a pan of water to the boil, I then stir the boiling water into a “spin” and crack the egg into the spinning vortex. Turn down the heat to a simmer, put the bread into the toaster, when the toast pops up, usually the eggs are done, firm white and soft yolk.

A lot of books I have read (and seen on cookery programmes on the TV) say that you should add vinegar to the water to “stop the egg from breaking apart” as you cook it. Personally I don’t add vinegar as I find it has a minimal or negligible effect (in other words I have seen eggs break apart even with vinegar in the water) and it has to be said it adds a vinegar flavour to the egg. I certainly noticed this when I last had poached eggs in a hotel recently.

I find that actually the best thing is to use really fresh eggs, it is old eggs that fall apart when poaching and not the use of vinegar that keeps it together, as you can see in the picture of my eggs above, still nice and whole! Just some freshly ground black pepper and serve.

Poaching Eggs

When poaching eggs I use to use one of those poaching pans, you know the kind a frying pan that has four little “cups” into which you break your eggs over boiling water. The eggs come out as though they were a top sliced football.

Having once asked for poached eggs in a hotel and getting those that had been done in just a pan of simmering water, I knew that I would have to attempt to do it.

I was surprised by how easy it was and since then I have always poached my eggs in this way.

Simply put, bring a pan of water to the boil, I then stir the boiling water into a “spin” and crack the egg into the spinning vortex. Turn down the heat to a simmer.

Poaching Eggs

At this point I put my halved bagel (or slices of bread) into the toaster when this is done then I know my eggs are done.

Poached Eggs on Bagel

A lot of books I have read (and seen Chefs on the TV) say that you should add vinegar to the water to “stop the egg from breaking apart” as you cook it. Personally I don’t add vinegar as I find it has a minimal or negligible effect (in other words I have seen eggs break apart even with vinegar in the water) and it also adds a vinegar flavour to the egg. I certainly noticed this when I last had poached eggs in a hotel recently.

I find that actually the best thing is to use really fresh eggs, it is old eggs that fall apart when poaching and not the use of vinegar, however I may be wrong on this. Though as you can see in the picture of my eggs above, still nice and whole!

Lentils with Chicken

Chicken with Lentils

This was a dish I recently served up.

The lentils were cooked in my usual way which is outlined in this blog article.

I poached the chicken, I take a pan of water, add some herbs, some onion, a carrot and if I had other veg I add that.

I bone the chicken and place in the pan and simmer for ten minutes.

Remove allow to dry for a while.

I then sliced and placed on a very hot griddle to add some colour.

Poached Chicken

I do quite like poaching chicken, it allows me to cook chicken quickly and keep is tender and moist.

However the downside is that it can look a bit unappetising.

Here is what I did recently when poaching chicken, though it might be worthwhile talking about the poaching itself.

I take a pan of water, add some herbs, some onion, a carrot and if I had other veg I add that.

I bone the chicken and place in the pan and simmer for ten minutes.

Remove allow to dry for a while.

I then place the cooked chicken onto a roasting tray, and drizzle them with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

I then roast them in a hot oven for ten minutes to give them some colour.

As a result quickly cooked moist and tender chicken with colour.

I served it with a vegetable risotto.

Done.

Poaching Chicken

No this blog entry is not about going out in the middle of night and snaffling a couple of chickens from the local farm.

I have virtually always roasted or fried my chicken, or used it in casseroles. After watching Saturday Kitchen on the BBC I decided to try something new and poach the chicken. I have poached chicken before in foil parcels, but never just as it is.

I took some water, added a carrot, an onion, a chunk of leek, some red pepper, black peppercorns and a bunch of parsley.

Poaching chicken.

I then poached the chicken for about ten to fifteen minutes. I then put it on a plate to rest.

When I was ready to serve up, I pan fried the chicken in a hot pan with some butter just to add some colour.

I served the chicken on a bed of leeks with beans, carrots and roasted potatoes.

Poaching the chicken added a multitude of flavours and made the chicken very moist and tender. Verdict of the table was that it was delicious.