Sometimes a recipe comes into your life and you know it is there to stay. A recipe that is simple, super impressive and everyone just loves it. This recipe for whole poached chicken is one such recipe.
I had been listening one morning to Richard Fidler interviewing Matt Moran and Richard was asking him about his favourite dish to cook at home. It was a whole chicken poached in a Chinese master stock. A recipe which promises perfectly cooked chicken every time. The moment I could, I started looking up his recipe for the master stock and went and got his book from the library but I never got around to making it. In the meantime, the clever Samantha Mackie over at The Cooks Larder in Sydney had been listening to the same interview and was inspired not only to look up the recipe but to make a very simple version of it and posted it on her blog! It is incredible and I have been telling anyone who will listen to me that they must make Samantha’s recipe.
The chicken is gently flavoured with star anise, ginger, soy sauce etc and is the most succulent meat possible. The poached chicken is something you can spend a little time putting together and then once it has simmered for 15 minutes you just turn off the heat and walk away. This has been such a good mid-week family meal when we have to be out at soccer or hockey training until 6pm. I can come home to a perfectly cooked chicken and serve with rice and steamed or stir fried greens. The chicken is perfect for an Asian chicken salad too.
When I have a little more time I will make a chicken noodle soup which is now our favourite family meal. Levi just said last night that this is the dish he wants for his birthday next year. All the kids love it and exclaim loudly how it is the best dinner ever!
Getting the flavour of the soup just right is all about tasting and adjusting. If I’m making the soup I use 3 star anise as opposed to the 4 in the recipe as the kids weren’t happy I had put liquorice in – I did explain it was the star anise and they were very happy with the next batch with less ‘liquorice’. I use slightly less soy sauce too – about 1 1/2 cups instead of 2. But if you are making the whole poached chicken to have in a salad or with greens then just follow Samantha’s recipe as it is perfection.
If making the soup, once the chicken is cooked remove it from the pot and put aside. Strain the broth and then pop it back in the saucepan. It is worthwhile spending a bit of time skimming off all the impurities so you have a beautiful, clear broth. Then I add water. Add a cup at a time and taste until the broth is just right – not too salty but not too watery. If you add too much water you’ll loose all the flavours. Then bring the broth to the boil and throw in a packet of udon noodles (skimming further if need be) and later the baby bok choy until just cooked. Ladle into big bowl and add shredded chicken, a little chilli, spring onions and coriander. Sublime. Thanks Samantha for your delicious recipe!
whole poached chicken and noodle soup
(based on Samantha Mackie’s recipe here)
4 star anise
1 cinnamon quill
2 cups soy sauce
1 chilli, chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
2 onions, roughly chopped
1 bunch of coriander (pick the leaves and set aside then wash the roots well and chop)
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
large knob of ginger, roughly chopped
1 whole chicken
270g packet udon noodles
baby bok choy
2 spring onions, sliced thinly
1 red chilli, sliced thinly
coriander leaves (that have been set aside)
Use a large pot that will be big enough to submerge a whole chicken. Pour in 3 cups of water then add all of the ingredients above and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for around 15 minutes.
Carefully drop in the whole chicken and top up with water if the stock doesn’t fully cover the chicken. Bring back to the boil and leave to simmer for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and cover the pan securely and leave it. The chicken will be cooked in around 90 minutes but can be left on the stove for up to 3 hours.
Carefully lift out the chicken when you need it. Remove the skin and discard. Chop up the chicken Chinese style and use in a salad or serve as is with rice and stir fried vegetables.
If you are making the noodle soup then strain the broth. Skim off all the impurities and put back on a low heat. Add 1 cup of water at a time and taste the broth until it is not too salty but still full of flavour. Bring to the boil then add the udon noodles and cook according to the directions on the packet. In the last couple of minutes of cooking time add the baby bok choy.
Use tongs to pick up the noodles and baby bok choy and place in big bowls. Shred the chicken meat and place on top. Then ladle over the broth. Finish with finely sliced spring onions, chilli and coriander leaves.