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starlightfarm

Cooking a chicken to use for casseroles......

starlightfarm
13 years ago

What is your best method for cooking a whole chicken? I know that most people boil the chicken... but for how long? Too long and the meat gets tough and stringy. Would it be better to cut the chicken in pieces so that it would cook faster?

Thanks!

Comments (42)

  • triciae
    13 years ago

    I prefer to roast chicken even if it's to use for a casserole or chicken salad. IMO, the chicken is moister, has better texture, & better flavor. Use seasonings compatible with what you'll be using in the casserole. A side benefit is that you'll have a carcass for stock.

    A rotisserie chicken from your grocery store can be a decent short cut. I just don't care for poached chicken.

    /tricia

  • wizardnm
    13 years ago

    Have you thought about roasting it? I would cut it up and place in a 9x13 pan (greased or foil lined). 400 oven for about 50 min or until it tests at 160*.
    Roasting locks in the flavor, don't over cook and you will have nice moist chicken.
    I think boiling ruins the chicken...IMO :)

    Nancy

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  • starlightfarm
    Original Author
    13 years ago

    Sounds like I'll be roasting it!!

    I have made a chicken pot pie recipe (from Ina... Barefoot Contessa) that is WONDERFUL. With that recipe, you roast the chicken breasts instead of boiling them.

    I knew that you guys have some great advice.

    Thanks!

  • greenmulberry
    13 years ago

    I always roast it too!

    I use high heat, and cut the backbone out first and I find it cooks more evenly for me.

    Plus, when you roast it, you get all that lovely crispy skin to uh, sample, as you pull off the meat for the casserole.

  • ann_t
    13 years ago

    I don't care for roast chicken or left over chicken used in a chicken pot pie. I prefer to simmer chicken breasts in seasoned chicken broth until tender. The enriched broth is then used to make the sauce for the pot pie. Unless the chicken is over cooked it won't be dry and stringy.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Thibeault's Table Chicken Pot Pie

  • caliloo
    13 years ago

    I was going to suggest Ina's roast chicken method, but you already mentioned it. It is perfect for casseroles so go for it!

    Alexa

  • lindac
    13 years ago

    I pretty well do what Ann does....and I make lots and LOTS of chicken casseroles and salads for the church.
    I put what I think is enough water into a pot to cover the chickens or breasts I will be cooking....then add celery tops or a couple of stalks, a small onion quartered a carrot chunked up a handfull of parsley or just the stems of the parsley a bay leaf or 2 some salt and a few pepper corns a clove of garlic and half a lemon...or just the rind if I have saved some from a previous use.
    I Boil that for about 30 minutes then add the chicken...
    Turn the heat down until it just barely simmers, cover and cook until done....for a good sized chicken about an hour...maybe a little more.
    Let it cool about ah hour in the broth, remove and pick the meat off the bones....returning all the skin and bones to the broth. Cook that broth at least another hour...3 or 4 hours is better, with a lid...strain and refrigerate the broth, discard skin bones etc.
    You now have some lovely chicken AND some fabulous broth to use in your casserole or to freeze for soup or chicken and noodles or whatever.
    If you refrigerate the broth before freezing, bits of solids will sink and the fat rise....skim off the fat and pour the clear broth out leaving the solids behind if you want clear broth.
    Poaching the chicken makes a much nicer more moist product for salads, casseroles and such.
    Linda C

  • teresa_nc7
    13 years ago

    I'm in Linda's camp seasoning the broth and simmering a whole chicken or chicken pieces. I do let the chicken cool completely in the broth until it's cool enough to handle. I like dark meat, so I hardly ever use just breasts in a recipe. Chicken pieces take me about 30-40 minutes of simmering time and a whole chicken about 1 hour.

    Teresa

  • centralcacyclist
    13 years ago

    I poach also. In seasoned chicken broth. I do love roasted chicken and if that is what I have, I will use that but usually it is simpler for me to poach what I need. I use the resulting broth either in that recipe or I freeze it and use it later.

  • foodonastump
    13 years ago

    If you poach in broth is the broth giving the chicken flavor or vice versa?

    Maybe I just don't poach right but I prefer to roast.

  • lindac
    13 years ago

    It's reciprocal... chicken gains from the broth and the broth from the chicken....sort of like "hot brining"...LOL!
    And you don't "boil the heck out of the chicken"....just a gentle simmer.
    I first learned about poaching chicken breasts from my father....who I think made it up!!
    He would poach skinless boneless breast pieces in a sweetish white wine, as a Reisling or a spatelase...and then reduce the poaching liquid and quickly brown the chicken in butter and use the liquid as a sauce.
    Linda C

  • plllog
    13 years ago

    I think the tradition of boiling chickens comes from when people had large kettles and cauldrons but very little, if any, oven space. There's also the idea of conserving all the good, as in Linda's method, where every bit of the nutrition that leaks out of the chicken is conserved in the broth. When people were in danger of going hungry, the fat was an essential nutrient not a bad health no-no.

    I roast the chickens whole because it's the easiest thing for me to do, and I prefer the flavor and texture. Now that I have an Advantium I might try speed cook in the future, since I don't have the guts to try it for a dinner chicken. If one wishes to use pan drippings in the sauce they're there, but unlike Linda's way, it doesn't use the bones and skins. I use homemade stock for the sauce. This is a more protein rich (plus all the concentrated extra chicken in the stock), leaner approach (minus all the fat, unless you skim the cooled broth, as Linda said), but less conservative.

  • triciae
    13 years ago

    Poaching also does something weird to the texture of the chicken. It's not exactly mushy but too soft for my taste. I much prefer the texture of roasted chicken even in the old standby chicken & rice casserole.

    /tricia

  • Marigene
    13 years ago

    I am another that prefers the chicken roasted. Tricia, you hit the nail on the head, the texture is horrible when poached, as some have suggested. Chicken cooks very fast, compared to other meats; an hour is far too long to have it come out tender...and then to reheat it in a casserole or pot pie would be way too long, in my estimation.

  • sooz
    13 years ago

    I use what I think is called the Chinese method. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the whole chicken (remove any giblets, remove skin if you want). Bring water to a boil again WITH the chicken inside the pot, then when the water had come to a boil, TURN OFF THE HEAT, put a lid on the pot and set your kitchen timer for an hour. Done, and you have the start of chicken broth too. Very easy. The chicken falls off the bone, and the breast meat is especially easy to shred for a variety of dishes. HTH!

  • BeverlyAL
    13 years ago

    Roasted "Lemon Up the Butt Chicken" which recipe belongs to someone here. Or I buy one already roasted if time is short.

  • lorijean44
    13 years ago

    If poaching your chicken leaves the chicken with a weird texture, you're not doing it right. Done properly, as has been discussed, will leave your chicken tender and juicy. It only takes about 30 - 40 minutes (depending on size) to cook chicken breasts that way. It's the method I've always used to make chicken pot pies, chicken tacos, etc. Comes out perfect every time.

    Lori

  • Bumblebeez SC Zone 7
    13 years ago

    Put me in the rotisserie chicken camp.

  • chase_gw
    13 years ago

    Depends what I'm making.

    If I set out to make a "delicate" chicken dish like vol au vent or crepes I always poach and always use breasts.

    If I'm making a heartier pot pie or casserole I'll use roasted chicken. Mind you I never recall roasting a chicken for this express purpose. If I'm roasting a chicken it's to have roasted chicken, leftovers get made into casseroles.

    If I did want to use a whole roasted chicken for a casserole dish I'd buy a rotisserie one from Costco!

  • cookebook
    13 years ago

    I use a method that I think came from Sara Moulton when she was on The Food Network. Put chicken in a large pot and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a boil and then put on the lid and turn off the heat. Let cool on the stovetop. It is so moist and tender. Great for use in other recipes. I use it mostly for chicken salad.

  • triciae
    13 years ago

    Lori, rather than saying, "...you're not doing it right...", please consider the possibility some of us just don't care for poached chicken & prefer roasted. :) In my case, it's the technique itself I avoid. Although I love fish & we eat fish once/twice a week, I don't like poached fish either for the same reason...weird texture.

    /tricia

  • jimster
    13 years ago

    Poaching is a good method, IMO. Chicken which is to be cooked further, as in a casserole, should be just barely done.

    The "Chinese" method advocated by sooz, which is like the one posted by cookebook, is even better than regular poaching.

    In The Key to Chinese Cooking, which I've mentioned before, Irene Kuo gives instructions for White-Cooked Chicken, which is like sooz's and cookebook's methods with just a bit more refinement. I have used this method with excellent results, both for serving as a cold chicken dish with a tangy sauce and as a method for precooking chicken for other dishes such as a cassserole. Served as is, it may be considered under done by some folks. But that is the Chinese way for this dish. I think anyone would like it as a precooking method.

    For a 4 pound roasting chicken, Kuo heats 8 cups of water to boiling. The chicken is placed in the water and returned to a boil. The pot is covered and heat is reduced to medium low to maintain a strong simmer (bubbles shooting rapidly to the surface) for 25 minutes. The chicken is then removed from the heat and steeped with the lid on for 45 minutes. It is important not to peep during the cooking and steeping in order to maintain the proper heat level.

    When the steeping is finished, a large pot is filled with cold water and 2 trays of ice cubes.The chicken is plunged into the ice water and left to chill for 15 minutes. The chicken is then refrigerated for 2 hours or more. Instant chilling prevents the juices from seeping out during as it does when a boiled chicken is left to cool. You know, that delicious gelatinized broth that ends up on the plate? That stays in the chicken which is then smooth, moist and delicious.

    Jim

  • annie1992
    13 years ago

    I use roast chicken because I have never made chicken specifically for a casserole or pot pie, they were always something made with "leftovers".

    So, I roast a chicken, have roast chicken dinner, then whatever is left is made into the casserole.

    Beverly, that was Carol/dishesdone who made the "Lemon up the butt" chicken, LOL, I miss her sense of humor.

    The single time I've boiled/poached chicken is for making chicken and dumplings, that was made with old stewing hens, so they got boiled for a LONG time, then the meat was stripped from the bones, the broth thickened into gravy and the dumplings added. Our dumplings were the big, round, fluffy, biscuit type dumplings.

    I haven't made chicken and dumplings for years, since Amanda moved out. She loved them. I didn't.

    Annie

  • lindac
    13 years ago

    Using roast chicken for a casserole or salad is the way I use up leftover cooked chicken....but I have done mesquite grilled chicken to top a leafy salad, and grilled it on purpose for the salad.
    But, if I start out to make a salad or chicken tetrazinni I poach the chicken. My recipe calls for poaching a chicken, then boning it out and using the broth to cook the pasta for the tetrazinni.
    Poached chicken, properly done, yields beautiful tender pieces of meat, and a favorite centerpiece of a cocktail party is a whole poached salmon, chilled covered with lemon slices. I poach it in a court boullion which is at least half dry white wine.
    But I do know many people don't like soft meat....prefer their beef and lamb done so that it's brown throughout, and fish and chicken cooked until very "firm"....which to me is over done.
    I don't care for over done dry meat....but I will gladly grab the crisp ends of a rolled roast from the grill....LOL! Go figure!

  • ann_t
    13 years ago

    I have to agree with Lori, that if your poached chicken has a "weird" texture (Your word Tricia), or isn't moist than something isn't being done right. Poached chicken is extremely moist and never dry. Now if you just don't like the texture of poached chicken, I can understand that. I personally do not like leftover chicken cooked in a casserole.

    Like Sharon, I roast a chicken to have roast chicken. Leftover roast chicken ends up in sandwiches hot or cold, and the carcass goes into the stock pot. But I don't like it recooked in a casserole.

    Each to their own taste.

    Ann

  • triciae
    13 years ago

    "Now if you just don't like the texture of poached chicken, I can understand that."

    Thank you, Ann. Yes, poached chicken/fish has a weird texture too me.

    There's room here for differences w/o back door putdowns. Geesh.

    /tricia

  • ann_t
    13 years ago

    Geesh Tricia, I think that my comments were pretty clear. There was no back door "putdown" intended.

    Ann

  • triciae
    13 years ago

    Not you, Ann.

    /t

  • cookie8
    13 years ago

    I go the cheap route when I think of it. I will go to a grocery store first thing in the morning and they have the left over roasted chickens for half price. I will buy a few, mutilate them and freeze the meat for stuff like this.

  • BeverlyAL
    13 years ago

    I thought it was Carol's recipe Annie, just wasn't sure. Anyway it's excellent.

    I've never had poached chicken that I liked either Tricia and I've followed instructions which have been given here many times.

    You method is an interesting concept Jimster. I'll have to give it a try.

    Sooz and Cookebook, does your method always fully cook the chicken?

  • cookebook
    13 years ago

    Hi Beverly,

    In my experience it has never been undercooked. I wasn't clear in my post though: I have never done it with a whole chicken - just pieces. I've used both bone-in and boneless, and both have worked just fine. It takes several hours to cool down. It is seriously tender!

    Kyle

  • chase_gw
    13 years ago

    Tricia, I know what you mean, poached chicken does have a different texture than roasted. I can see how that might not be pleasing to every palate.

    I like it when served with a sauce, such as a crepes but I'm not crazy when it is used for chicken salad or served cold. Go figure, to each his own.

  • jimster
    13 years ago

    Kyle,

    I have used the White-cook method with chicken pieces as well as with whole chicken. I seldom follow a recipe exactly. I suggest you experiment by adding the quick chill phase to your poaching technique. I think you will like it.

    Jim

  • caliloo
    13 years ago

    I'm another one that does not care for the texture of poached chicken, nor do I care for brined anything. I think both processes change the texture of the meat significantly to something that is not pleasing to my palate. And, it has nothing to do with whether it is done properly or not.

    Fortunately, there are lots of other foods that I do like so my being faced with the dilemma of eating poached/brined anything or go hungry isn't a problem! LOL!

  • cookebook
    13 years ago

    Thanks Jim! I definitely will try it. Never would have thought to do a cool down like that with the ice but I certainly will now.

  • plllog
    13 years ago

    Y'know, y'all have just explained what I don't like about chicken and dumplings. I bet the chicken was boiled, poached or whatever, as Annie said. I never asked. :) Unlike other stewed chickens which are usually stewed in the gravy.

    Linda's onto something, also, about the texture. I don't find poached chicken too "soft" per se, but it tastes...wet?...to me. I definitely do not like dried out meat, but I can't eat the (adjectives deleted in case they might offend) texture the way less done meat is. I don't really care about the chicken in a casserole or pie (just the c&d). I roast the chickens because I just find roasting chickens really easy.

  • spacific
    13 years ago

    Ditto Chase's method. Leftover roast chicken goes into all kinds of casseroles. Poaching chicken breasts only for specific dishes that would benefit from that particular flavor/texture.

    But my own personal preference is that the breasts and legs are used first for the roast meal and I save the thighs and back meat for casseroles.

  • dirtgirl07
    13 years ago

    What Plllog just said makes me think some of you are mistaking undercooked chicken with poached. I poach my chicken for chicken salad and it is tender but definitely cooked. Whereas I've gotten hold of both chicken and turkey that were what she calls 'wet' and spongy and quite nasty to eat. My SIL has done her T'gving turkey that way two years in a row, roasting it too!!

    It is super easy to undercook or overcook chicken. I've even seen the juices run clear in the chicken and it still be undercooked with that spongey wet texture. Unfortunately, neither are fit to eat.

    Beth

  • lorijean44
    13 years ago

    Wasn't a put-down, backdoor or any other kind, Tricia. Ease up, please -

    Lori

  • plllog
    13 years ago

    Oh, no, dirtgirl, I don't mean undercooked!! I know what that is (had an Aunt you don't want to know about)! The "wet" taste thing is more about it being very moist without the roasty flavor. Or maybe it's without the wine flavor--this is all memory. I haven't taste tested or anything. Though to be sure I should try both water poached and wine poached. I think the chicken breasts I have for tomorrow are going to be breaded and baked, however, not sent to the test kitchen. ;)

    The ch'ck'n'd'mplns (bad dialect, but it's not "chicken and dumplings" all spelled out) I was talking about is a stewing chicken served in gravy with softball sized dough balls. The d'mplns are pretty good, and the gravy is very chickeny and great (though could use some seasoning), but the chicken tastes...wet. It's cooked.

    Actually, I think my grandmother's boiled chicken was similar in texture, but it was very salty so wet wasn't the dominant impression.

    None of this matters. I'm just talking about one dish made by one person that I don't like.

    Okay, please understand that the bad chicken cooking is from the other side of the family!! ROTFL!!

  • lindac
    13 years ago

    Speaking of cooking chicken for use in another dish...anyone ever try the microwave?
    I tried it....just laid the chicken pieces ona pie plate, covered with a piece of waxed paper and zapped it until it was no longer pink in the center....Not very good....top parts sort of dry...lost of coagulated juice in the dish indicating the chicken had lost moisture.....tried it again with boneless breast to use in salad just for me....turned it this time....still not good...dry.
    So back to poaching....

  • annie1992
    13 years ago

    pllog, that sounds just like my family chicken and dumplings, although in my family it really was pronounced as chicken and dumplings.

    Elery's sister is "famous" in the family for her chicken n dumplin's but her dumplin' is more of a flat thick noodle. The chicken is still boiled, certainly not "poached" because it's boiled to oblivion and then added back into the broth when it's fallen off the bone.
    Fortunately for me, Elery hates them both ways, LOL.

    So, I don't think I've ever actually had "poached" chicken, only boiled chicken. I've fried, baked, roasted and grilled chicken, but I've never poached it. No matter what the method, the leftovers are casserole material.

    Annie