A number of chicken dishes require you to boil the chicken first and then go about the rest of the recipe. Boiled chicken is so versatile that you can make practically anything with it. But if you over-boil the meat, the flavour will be all gone and all you’ll be left with is very tasteless, fibery chunks of meat that are no good. So, learn how to boil chicken properly from the given article, which is followed by some very delectable boiled chicken recipes.
Did You Know?
Skinless and boneless chicken boils the fastest, but boiling bone-in chicken breasts is what will give you a tastier, more aromatic chicken broth!
Soups, salads, casseroles, sandwiches, gà luộc chặt, potpies. They all call for boiled chicken, and boiling a chicken properly is the trick to churn out extremely scrumptious and flavourful chicken preparations. One would think, “How big a deal could that be? I mean, we are just boiling the chicken and that’s all.” But there are some things that you do need to pay attention to, like:
How long do you boil chicken?
Do you boil the chicken as a whole or chunk it up and then boil it?
What else could you add to the chicken while boiling it so that you can enhance the flavours a little bit?
All these little details work towards giving you a perfectly boiled chicken, or leaving you with an atrocious piece of fibrous, tasteless chicken that looks anemic. So, let us learn how to boil chicken properly, shall we?
How to Boil Chicken
Boiled Whole Chicken
As I said before, a greater number of chicken recipes will ask you to pre-boil the chicken before you actually start with the recipe itself. But, very few people know that you can actually boil an entire chicken faster than pieced chicken. You can always go about cutting it later on. So, let us see how you can go about doing this. You will need the following ingredients.
- Whole chicken, 3 lb
- Carrots, 3 (not peeled, chunked)
- Celery stalks, 2 (cut into bite-sized pieces)
- Bay leaves, 2
- Onion, 1 (large, not peeled, cut into halves)
- Peppercorns, 1 tbsp. (whole)
- Salt, 2 tsp.
- Dried parsley flakes, 1 tsp.
- Water, enough to cover the chicken
In a large Dutch oven, place the whole chicken and throw in the carrots, celery, onion, peppercorns and salt. Add enough water so that the entire chicken is immersed and then cover. Heat on high. Once the water starts to boil, lower the heat so that a steady simmer sets in. Let the chicken boil for 1½ hours. Check at this juncture and if you see that the flesh is separating out of the bones, it is ready. Let the chicken stay in the broth and cool down completely before you shred or cube it. You can then use it to make either chicken salad or any chicken soup recipe.
Boiled Chicken Breast
You can make 8 cups of chicken and 8 cups of broth with,
- Chicken breasts, 6 (4 lb, bone-in)
- Carrots, 2 (chunked or cut into strips)
- Celery ribs with tops, 2 (cut into bite-sized pieces)
- Onion, 1 (small, halved)
- Bay leaf, 1
- Garlic clove, 1
- Water, 2 qt
- Salt, 2 tsp.
- Pepper, 1 tsp.
Again, place the chicken in the Dutch oven and throw in all the other ingredients. Pour in the water, cover and bring the chicken to a boil over high heat. Once it’s boiling, lower the flame and let it steadily simmer for 40 minutes straight. Remove from flame and when the chicken has cooled considerably in the broth itself, skin and bone it. Dice, shred or slice the boiled boneless chicken as per your need. You can store this meat in the fridge for up to 3 months in Ziploc pouches.
Boiled chicken is a perfect meat substitute for any kind of meat.
Boiling Vs. Poaching Chicken
The poaching liquid can be…
any non-oil-based fluid – from plain water to water combined with broth, fruit juice, vegetable purée, cream-based sauces, beer or wine to aromatise the poaching liquid (by the time the meat is cooked, the alcohol will already have vapourised).
A lot of chefs around the world believe that poaching chicken is a much better option than boiling it. This is simply because of the fact that when you poach it, the result is juicier, more aromatic and definitely more nutritious. How is poaching different from boiling? Well, poaching entails you to place the chicken in water that has reached a boiling temperature and then has been removed from the heat. The chicken then gets cooked gradually and optimally in the residual heat of the poaching liquid. Since the meat is never subject to direct heating from the stove in this process, the proteins do not shrink too fast and the inherent moisture is not subsequently force-squeezed out of the chicken (as is the case with rapidly boiling chicken). There are two things that need to be kept in mind,
- The poaching liquid should just be enough to cover all the pieces. Not more. Not less. Just enough for you to immerse everything in it. A skillet or a shallow pan is, therefore, ideal for poaching.
- Even though chicken thighs, wings or an entire chicken can be poached, it is best to opt for boneless and skinless chicken breasts because of their high-protein and low-fat content.
Let us see two ways in which we can achieve this.
- Fill half a stockpot with some chicken stock and to it add flavourful agents, such as bay leaves, celery leaves, garlic, chopped onion bits, a few parsley sprigs, whole or crudely ground black peppercorns and salt.
- To this concoction, pour in a dollop of white wine. If you do not have wine at hand, just use some lemon juice. Either of them will not only enhance the flavour of the liquid but also give the entire thing a very well-rounded taste.
- Sit the stockpot on the stove next and let the liquid simmer for anything between 10 to 15 minutes.
- Once you can smell the variant commingled flavours of the infusion, turn on the heat. The liquid will start to boil. Take the pot off the stove at this juncture and place the pieces of chicken in the liquid.
- Do this quickly and then cover the top with some aluminium foil. Place the lid on the foil for better coverage and heat retention.
- Allow this arrangement to stand undisturbed for 12 – 15 minutes.
- After that, remove the cover from the pot and the pieces from the poaching liquid, shred, slice or cube the chicken and knock yourself out with some succulent and aromatic chicken pieces to be used in salads, pastas and casseroles. You can also serve it alongside noodles and steamed or grilled veggies.
- Begin with a skinless, boneless chicken breast weighing about ½ a pound and trim all the fat from it.
- Once all the fat is removed, cut it lengthwise.
- Next, mix 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 – 3 pinchfuls of salt, tarragon, oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, cumin or paprika and some salt.
- Roll the chicken pieces in this mixture and then let them sit in the lime juice for 5 – 7 minutes.
- In the meantime, get about 2½ quarts of water simmering in a 4-quart pot.
- While the water is getting heated, place one piece of the chicken breasts on a long piece of microwave-proof cling film and start to roll it on the board. Once you wrap the chicken up, it should look like a sausage in a plastic film. See to it that no air bubbles get trapped inside, tie up the two ends of the film in a double knot to secure the chicken cylinder. Repeat this for the other piece, too.
- By now the water will have reached a good simmer and you need to turn the heat off. Do not remove the pot from the stove though.
- Place the chicken cylinders in this water and place the lid on the pot. After 15 – 20 minutes, remove the sausages from the water, throw away the cling film and slice the chicken up.
- Serve it with a dip or with some berries and sliced red onions.
- Remember, you must unwrap the chicken on a plate, or else you will lose all the flavourful, aromatic juices that form inside the plastic when you heat it.
For those who wish to make the most of the liquid the chicken is being boiled in, just make a thick and delectable sauce out of it by simply:
1. letting it cool down
2. adjusting the seasoning by adding more herbs, spices, pepper and salt
3. boiling the liquid further if it is not thick enough
4. running it through a seive (optional)
5. adding a tablespoon of cornstarch for every cup of the broth left (e.g., 5 tbsp. of cornstarch for 5 cups of broth)
6. boiling it again until the consistency is thick enough for your liking
7. topping it off with a few tablespoons of cream, a dollop of butter or a generous dash of wine et voila!
You can also play around with the herbs you add to the poaching liquid in order to derive a more flavourful chicken. Here’s how.
When Poaching Chicken Breasts for an Entrée…
Throw in some parsley, tarragon, a few lemon wedges in white wine and poach your chicken breasts in this divine mixture.
For Plain White Aromatic Chicken Breasts…
Bundle up 1 bay leaf, 1 tablespoon of fresh sage and 2 tablespoons of parsley in a cheesecloth and submerge in the poaching liquid. Also add carrot, celery and onion chunks for enhanced flavour.
Just tie up sprigs of parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon and thyme in a piece of cheesecloth and place it in simmering, unseasoned water. Use this liquid for poaching your chicken and you will have your super aromatic, fleckless chicken.
When Poaching Chicken for Taco Filling…
Just throw in some cut up serrano peppers and cilantro into the poaching liquid, squeeze the juice from one lemon into it and poach away to glory. Perfect for making a spicy filling for tacos.
Now, let us see some recipes in which you need to use boiled chicken.
Recipes Using Boiled Chicken
Gà Luộc Chặt
This Vietnamese boiled chicken is served atop steaming white rice on monsoon days, just like khichuri (a kedgeree variation) is a must for any Bengali household whenever the heavens choose to open the floodgates. Gà luộc chặt is made a lot during the new years as well, for the Vietnamese people offer boiled chicken to gods and ancestors at that time. So, how do you make this boiled chicken with soy sauce which has been infused with fried shallots. You can make this with,
- Chicken, 5 lb (boiled in water with 1 teaspoon of salt for 40 minutes)
- Shallots, 3 (fried)
- Chilies, 2
- Soy sauce, 4 tbsp.
After the chicken is boiled, use a bamboo skewer to prick the chicken at the juncture of the bottom breast and the thighs and lift it so that the fat rises to the top. Then slowly take the whole chicken out so that the fat coats the chicken to render it all glazed. Allow the chicken to cool. In the mean time, blend the other three ingredients together well and make a condiment. Chunk the chicken into bite-sized bits and serve with the sauce, atop rice.
Chobok, Jungbok and Malbok are three specific days in a year that Koreans consider to be the hottest. And it is during these three days that they especially concoct and consume the delicacy of samgyetang, which literally means Korean ginseng whole-chicken soup or guk. This guk is known to restore vitality during hot summer days. The proteins and minerals in samgyetang fight dehydration and rejuvenate a person optimally. In fact, the specialty of the dish lies in the fact that only uncut vegetables and herbs are used to make this dish because the nutrition quotient is the highest in whole veggies. For two super, duper, bumper hungry people, you will need to gather,
- Cornish game chickens, 2
- Glutinous rice (also known as sweet rice or sticky rice), ½ cup
- Chicken stock, 4 cups (low sodium variety, made from chicken bones, flavoured with a 2″ x 5″ piece of dashi konbu or kelp)
- Jujubes, 10
- Garlic, 6 cloves (peeled)
- Chestnuts, 4 (whole)
- Ginseng roots, 3 (small, 3-year old, fresh or 5 pieces of dried)
- Pine nuts, 2 tbsp.
- Kosher salt, 2 tbsp. (or 1 tbsp. normal salt)
- Scallion, 1 (finely sliced)
- Gingko nuts, ⅔ cup (shelled)
- Sea salt, for serving
Begin by soaking the rice in cold water to clean it. Let it stand in the water for a while. In the meantime, take the kosher salt and apply it all over the whole chickens – inside the cavities as well as on the outer side, thoroughly. Next, divide and place 2 chestnuts, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 gingko nuts, 2 ginseng and 2 jujubes inside the salted chickens. Drain the water from the rice, add the pine nuts to it and stuff the two chickens equally with this mixture. Place one chestnut, garlic and jujube each on top of the rice stuffing of each chicken. Sew the open ends of the whole chicken pair up using a trussing needle and some twine. Now in a Dutch oven, pour in the kelp-infused stock and the remaining pieces of garlic, gingko nuts, ginseng and jujubes. Once this infusion starts to boil, add the chicken pair to it. Let it boil for another 5 – 7 minutes and then cover, lower the heat and let the stock simmer for an hour. Sprinkle the scallion on the chicken just before serving. Serve with sea salt in a separate bowl.
There are variations of this recipe and sometimes people also use gugija(wolfberry), dangsam (poor man’s ginseng or Codonopsis pilosula), anddanggwi (female ginseng or Angelica sinensis) for the medicinal goodness in them. Some people also add pine mushrooms as a part of the filling. A traditional South Korean joint will usually serve this soup with a bottle of insamju or ginseng wine along with other side dishes.
For this chicken salad recipe, gather,
- Chicken, 1 lb (boiled)
- Green olives, 10 (chopped)
- Black olives, 10 (chopped)
- Romaine lettuce, ½ a head (hacked)
- Apple, ½ (chopped)
- Mayonnaise, 5 tbsp.
- Honey, 1 tbsp.
- Lemon juice, 2 tsp.
- Garlic, 2 tsp. (minced)
Mix the boiled chicken, olives, apple and lettuce in one bowl and the mayo, honey and lemon juice in another. Now mix the two together and toss for a while. Serve chilled.
The Chinese of course add ginger peel from a 2-inch ginger piece, 6 minced garlic cloves with skin, 6 chopped spring onions and two teaspoonfuls of sesame oil to the pot full of water, while boiling a large chicken. Next, they allow the chicken to come to a boil, simmer it for 10 minutes and after that let it sit in the broth for 60 minutes. They then fry a 2″ minced ginger and 4 cloves of fresh garlic in ⅓ cup of peanut oil over medium heat and cut the chicken up in 8 pieces. They top the pieces with the sautéed garlic and ginger along with the oil and drizzle plentiful of soy sauce from top.
So, there you go. Various ways to have perfect boiled chicken to make the most delightful dishes. Remember, if a dish asks you to boil a chicken for less than 20 minutes, it means that you have to parboil chicken and not boil it completely. Read recipe instructions carefully in order to understand what you must do, for a lot depends on the boiling chicken part – not only the flavour, as you might think, but also the texture and look of the dish. Cooking is an art and to do full justice to it, one has to cater to all the facets of it.