She ain’t pretty, but boy is she my staple; the best thing you’ll ever eat. Thankfully—looks aren’t everything, especially when it comes to the best, most succulent chicken with the recipe that keeps on giving—sandwiches, pasta, and the most flavorful stock for all kinds of risotto. Because the chicken actually cooks in the chicken stock, for a long 3 hours, the flavors are unimaginable, and the chicken stock? Made even better for sitting with the chicken. This dish has literally changed my life.
Creative director and good friend James Dunlinson was the one who first mentioned this dish to me, it’s a rift of a Kylie Kwong recipe. I use a whole cup, (or 4 oz) of fresh Ginger, like she does, and as it boils down, it gives your house a most fragrant, spicy—almost exotic scent. Don’t worry, the chicken doesn’t taste gingery. You’ll need 3 and a half hours in total to make this, but only 10 minutes, of that is actual prep time, the rest is just sitting on the stovetop, with the heat turned off. Do it on a Sunday, and have it for dinner, and then honestly, you’re really set for the week.
COOK ONCE, AND GET TWO DISHES: A JUICY CHICKEN, AS WELL AS A FLAVORFUL STOCK:
WHOLE POACHED CHICKEN:
Fill a giant pot with 14 cups of water. Add 1 chopped Carrot, 2 handfuls of roughly chopped Celery, 1 whole Lemon, cut in half and the juice squeezed into the water, half a head of Garlic, with skin, roughly chopped, half a medium Onion, also chopped roughly, 1 teaspoon of Black Peppercorns, 4 oz, or one cup of whole fresh Ginger, chopped roughly and 2 tablespoons of Salt. Put the lid on and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes to infuse flavors. Drop a whole raw Chicken (4.5 lbs, approx) into the pot, and bring heat back up to a boil. Let the chicken boil in the pot for only 15 minutes. Shut off the heat. Replace the lid and leave the chicken to sit in the pot, on your stove top for 3 hours. This allows the chicken to gently poach in the warm water to give it a moist, velvet texture. You can put the entire thing in the fridge at this point to cool. (I even leave it overnight in there). When cool, shred the chicken and put in a separate bowl. You can reduce the chicken stock further by putting it back on the heat for an hour or so. Then strain.
MUSHROOM CHICKEN RISOTTO:
Put a big knob of Butter in a fry pan on low heat and add a half onion, finely diced, and 2 cloves of Garlic, finely crushed. Fry until softened. Add 2 handfuls of sliced Shitake Mushrooms. Add a bit of salt, three quarters of a cup of White Wine, and stir for a few minutes. Add about a three quarters of a cup of Arborio Rice and a big cup of the strained Chicken stock. Add a handful of grated Parmesan and more stock and cook, stirring for 20 minutes of more, adding more stock often, several cups, over several minutes, until the rice is tender. Add the shredded Chicken from the poaching (above), last minute. To just heat through. Stir. Check for seasoning. Taste. Add Salt and Pepper as necessary, and another knob of Butter. Stir, taste, serve. The layering of flavors are unimaginable.
USE THE POACHED CHICKEN ALL WEEK. SOME IDEAS:
—Throw it in leftover heated Broth with cooked Rice, Carrot and Celery for a quick kind of Chicken soup.
—Toss it in a wok with Broccoli (or other greens), Red Peppers, Red curry paste, diced Yam, a can of Coconut Cream, and fresh Cilantro for a quick curry, with Jasmine rice.
—Make a chicken salad with Celery, Capers, Dijon, Mayo and fresh Dill. Throw it between thick slices of Italian Bread.
—Create an old- school Waldorf Salad, with Apples, Celery, Walnuts and dressed in Mayo. (Take it for lunch).
— Make up a basic creamy Mac ‘n’ Cheese, (white bechamel with grated cheddar) and then toss the shredded chicken through it to add protein. (Great for kids).
—Shred the chicken and serve it in Taco’s with Avocado and shredded Cheese. With Beans and Rice on the side. (Great for kids).
—Mix up the shredded Chicken with Corn, Cilantro, minced Jalapeno, sliced matchsticks of Jicama, with a Lime and Sour Cream Dressing. (Take it for lunch).
—Throw it between a layers of Button Mushroom Lasagne. With plenty of Fontina cheese.
—Mix the chicken with grated Cheddar, Mayo and a touch of Dijon Mustard, and place it inside 2 slices of bread, smear the outside with butter and fry, like a grilled Cheese.
—Toss the chicken in Buttered Noodles and sprinkle with freshly sliced Scallions (or Green Onions).