Right here for juicy chicken, ideal for chicken salad and other meal preparation.
What if we told you that boiling chicken had nothing to do with burning? This simple technique is a blatant misnomer but a timeless cooking staple. This approach should be in your culinary arsenal if you enjoy chicken salad, buffalo chicken sandwiches, or chicken noodle soup. Continue reading to discover the secrets to ideally boiling chicken.
Our Guide to Boiling Chicken
Our Perfect Chicken for Salads recipe is the simplest method to maximize flavor while reducing work. It makes 4 to 6 portions of soft, juicy chicken breast that may be a starting point for any upcoming dinner. So let’s take it one step at a time:
1. Pick Your Chicken
We start with skin-on, bone-in chicken breast halves, but any portion of the chicken can be used. You may use this method to prepare an entire chicken. Cooking time will vary depending on the quantity and cut of chicken you choose. While skinless, boneless chicken pieces are perfectly incredible, we recommend skin-on, bone-in chicken for the different tastes provided by the skin and bones.
2. Build Your Cooking Liquid
The chicken is then placed in a saucepan and immersed in liquid to cook. A typical rule of thumb is that the liquid should be at least one inch higher than the chicken. This is your first chance to boost taste by substituting stock for water as the cooking liquid. Next, other flavor enhancers, such as herbs, aromatics, and vegetables, are added to the store. Fresh parsley and thyme are used in this dish, but any herbs, including dried options like bay leaf, will enhance the flavor. Aromatics such as citrus peels, fresh ginger, and entire garlic cloves will also go a long way here. Finally, we add onions, carrots, and celery to the mix to add flavor. If you don’t have these precise vegetables, mushrooms, fennel, or scallions would be excellent substitutes.
3. Cook Your Chicken
Now comes the tricky part: while most assume cooked chicken is boiled, it is poached in three simple steps. After bringing the saucepan to a boil:
- The heat is reduced.
- The pot is covered.
- The chicken is left to simmer for 20 minutes.
Why not cook till done? Remember that water boils around 212 degrees Fahrenheit, ideal for cooking fibrous foods like vegetables or pasta. However, this temperature is too high for the protein structure of poultry, resulting in dry, chewy chicken. Cook chicken in a lower temperature range, between 160 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit, to produce soft, juicy, never overdone chicken. If you don’t have a thermometer, use your eyes to evaluate the cooking liquid. When water boils, bubbles move quickly. When poaching, you should only see little, random bubbles around the pan’s sides. When cooked properly, the chicken should be opaque and firm but not rubbery. The pan is then taken off the heat and set aside to cool. You are cooling the chicken before chopping helps to keep it juicy.
4. Store Your Stock and Chicken
The chicken is taken out of the boiling liquid, now a fortified stock. Did I hear someone mention wanting Chicken Noodle Soup? If you will not use the stock immediately, skim, strain, and store it for later. For easy storage, we recommend freezing stock in ice cube trays. Frozen stock can be stored for up to 6 months in the freezer. It has much meal prep potential because it’s easy to defrost and add to any recipe. Make this Basic Gravy to discover how simple it is to use frozen stock. The chicken comes next, and most significantly. The bones and skin are removed so that the beautiful meat can be prepared in various ways for various meals. Boiled chicken can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days and frozen for up to 3 months. Your chicken will be so tasty that it won’t last long. Try it in Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese to see what we mean.
How Long to Boil Chicken
Cooking time for various cuts of chicken varies according to the size, thickness, and structure of the cooked pieces. Consider the following when calculating the cooking time:
Skin-on vs. Skinless
The skin adds flavor to the chicken and its stock but does not affect cooking time. As a result, while poaching chicken, we always recommend leaving the skin on.
Bone-in vs. Boneless
While cooking, the bones provide flavor and moisture to the chicken. As a result, the bone-in chicken will always be our first choice. However, bone-in chicken pieces take longer to cook than boneless chicken pieces.
Fresh vs. Frozen
Without thawing, chicken can be poached right from the freezer. Increase the cooking time by 50% to accomplish this. For example, when cooking our Perfect Chicken for Salads with frozen breasts, poach the chicken for 30 minutes instead of 20.
When poaching a whole chicken, choose a large vessel to hold the entire bird. The pot should be twice as big as the chicken. Depending on weight, a fresh, whole chicken will take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to poach.
Chicken Breast vs. Thighs
Boneless chicken breasts cook for 15 minutes, while bone-in chicken breasts take 20 minutes. Their neutral flavor and reduced fat content make them ideal for meal prep. If you’re short on time, remember that thighs cook faster than breasts. Boneless thighs cook for 10 minutes, whereas bone-in thighs cook for 15 minutes. Thighs also have higher fat content, so their flavor is more intense.
Chicken Temperature When Done
No of the cooking method or cut, the chicken should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken piece while checking the temperature.
Perfect Shredded Chicken
Shredding poached chicken with two forks is a breeze, especially when it’s warm. First, however, pull out your trusty electric mixer if you want the quickest approach. After removing the skin and bones, a blender will shred cooked chicken in the blink of an eye. An electric mixer is also a terrific way to shred heated chicken without scorching your hands, but be sure to chill it thoroughly before storing it.
Ways to Flavor your Boiled Chicken
Because of its versatility and ease of preparation, boiled chicken is an excellent addition to any weekly meal prep program. Here are some suggestions for enhancing its neutral flavor:
- Before poaching, brine or marinate the meat. Seasoning boiling chicken with dried spices or herbs might be tricky. So instead, brine or marinate the chicken before poaching it. While this brine is famous over the holidays, it can be used on chicken all year.
- Poach in something savory rather than plain water. We recommend poaching in chicken stock to enhance flavor, but veggie or mushroom stock also works well. If you don’t have any inventory, substitute a splash of vinegar or a jar of tomato sauce from your cupboard for this Marinara Poached Chicken from Frozen.
- Keep it in the cooking liquid. In the refrigerator, boiled chicken tends to dry up quickly. Store the chicken in its cooking liquid to avoid this. Just be sure to cool both before putting them in the fridge.
- Serve with a delicious sauce on top. Boiled chicken is an excellent lunchtime companion because it can be taken in any direction with the addition of a sauce. Although store-bought sauces are widely accessible, we prefer to prepare our own. This dish for Poached Ginger Chicken, for example, is a crowd pleaser. This Garlic Herb Sauce is fantastic on poached chicken, but we predict you’ll want to put it over everything.
Learn more: How to Poach Eggs