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Poached chicken for chicken salad - best way to season

Do you season the poaching water for chicken salad? I plan to make a simple mix with shredded poached chicken, mayo, celery, onion, salt and pepper, dijon.

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  1. I put some dried herbs (usually tarragon and lavender) in a tea ball to scent the water. I also use an onion and some scraps of celery if I have 'em. Boil these, then reduce the heat and simmer the chicken slooooowly.

    5 Replies
    1. re: shaogo

      I use ginger and garlic, just a little. A poached chicken to me means putting a whole chicken in a pot of cold water, bring to a boil , cover , turn off, let sit for an hour and then it is done.

      1. re: magiesmom

        I've never used anything but these sound interesting. I do breasts by putting them in a pot and covering with water. Bring to a boil, cover, remove from heat. In 15-20 minutes they're ready. Both what you and I do I learned from the Frugal Gourmet.

        1. re: c oliver

          We are dark meat eaters so we like to do the a whole bird.

          1. re: c oliver

            I use Jeff Smith's method too. The resulting chicken is so succulent and delicious that people can't believe it was so simply prepared!

        2. re: shaogo

          Had to google lavender in chicken salad, and yes, with lemon and or honey there are some recipes. I was surprised, and glad to read that care should be taken to go easy, avoiding a perfume situation!

        3. dry brine or marinate overnight.

          1. I just use salt and whole peppercorns. I like the chicken bland so I can add flavor with the other ingredients or use the chicken in something else. More versatile that way.

            1. This will sound really esoteric and foodie-elitist, but hey, it' s Chowhound!

              I think poaching chicken in a Chinese master stock is the best. I have had my chicken master stock for over 5 years now. Even giant tasteless Frankenbreasts come out fabulous. I highly recommend it. It only takes a mason jar sized space in the freezer. Well worth it.

              4 Replies
                1. re: goodeatsgal

                  It is a stock that is flavored each time it is used, and it is used over and over for years. Some are decades old. Within a short time, anything poached in it comes out with a savory, umami goodness. They are protein specific so it is not good to use a chicken one with a beef or vegetable one.

                  I keep mine in the freezer, reduced for easy storage. I like my chicken master stock to be flavored more heavily with garlic, mushrooms, and bay. But you can change the flavor at any time by throwing different herbs and spices in the pot. It should eventually be balanced so you can't pick out just one flavor -it just tastes savory.

                  1. re: sedimental

                    I'd never heard of that. Sounds really interesting.

                    1. re: sedimental

                      i do not like poached chicken but keep a beef broth just like this in my freezer. takes braises and stews to a whole new level.

                2. A simple Court-bouillon will do nicely.
                  Onion, Carrot, Celery, Parsley, a few Peppercorns, a couple of Cloves and Bay Leaf.
                  If you have any of these just lying around, Mushroom Stems, Leek Tops, White Wine are all welcome additions to the party.
                  Other flavors are up to you but since you are making a fairly straight forward Salad I would avoid Asian Flavors like Ginger, Garlic, Soy Etc..........

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: chefj

                    I agree. To my Court-bouillon I love to add crushed juniper berries simply as I enjoy the flavour.

                    1. re: chefj

                      Thanks for the suggestion. I did a lazy poach with bouillon powder. I've had it in my cabinet forever and never use it, it worked out great. At least the chicken tastes great, I'm not planning to make salad until tomorrow.

                    2. I've stopped poaching and started roasting my chicken for chicken salad (and other recipes using cooked chicken breast meat) after watching Ina Garten make chicken salad on the Food Network. I buy bone-in, skin on breasts halves, trim them of excess fat, brush lightly with olive oil, then salt and pepper. Into a 350 oven for about 40 minutes. The meat is tender and juicy. I like the texture and flavor. Easy to pull off the skin and bones while still a bit warm.

                      1 Reply
                      1. At the very least I use chicken stock instead of water to poach chicken. I often add and onion, some celery, a carrot, parsley and thyme or fresh dill. (I like fresh dill for chicken salad.)

                        I also use the technique of bringing the chicken and cold stock to a boil, cover and turning off the heat to let sit until done.

                        1. I poach in broth made with Better Than Bouillon, and add Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute. If doing just a breast or two, I use the microwave. Heat the water enough to dissolve the base, add the chicken and seasoning, nuke to simmer, shut off and cover. Let it steep for a half hour. Save the enhanced broth to use for inclusion when making stock or chicken soup.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: greygarious

                            Thanks! Good ideas there. I make soup weekly for my lunches (from leftover bits and extra veg) and I always look to repurpose or multipurpose food items for lunch. Quick poaching stock like this is perfect for that :)

                          2. Wondering if I can poach a large turkey thigh by using cold water start, bringing to boil, and letting it sit??

                            That's so easy!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Seeker19104

                              you'll want to remove the skin and cut the thighs into smallish pieces, but, yes, you can do it this way.

                            2. Do you season the poaching water for chicken salad?


                              6 Replies
                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Just out of curiously, how do you make your chicken salad, ipsedixit?

                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                  Usually start with canned chicken in spring water.

                                  Then it's a blend of nonfat yogurt, dijon mustard, horseradish powder, lime juice, sweet relish, and salt and white pepper to taste.

                                  And recently, if I can find it, I will put diced cucamelons into my chicken salad.

                                  What are "cucamelons" you say? I say, see here: http://nymag.com/restaurants/features...

                                  (Might also add chopped walnuts, depending on the audience or mood).

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    I recently discovered some wild cucumbers which look and taste like this at my brothers home in Florida. I love the flavor so I saved some seeds - hope they will grow for me next year!


                                    1. re: meatn3


                                      Hope they grow. Keep us posted. Good luck.

                                    2. re: ipsedixit

                                      Sounds tasty. I like the addition of horseradish. I also use yogurt.

                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                        I will get bashed for this, but for me the chicken is the least important part of chicken salad.