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Proper poaching for chicken
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ERdept



Joined: 24 Apr 2008
Posts: 39
Location: LA

PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 6:50 am    Post subject: Proper poaching for chicken Reply with quote

Can anyone tell me with absolute certainty the proper heating sequence to poach.

I see in many recipes different ways to do it and there should be one definitive way in order to acheive the most tenderness.

The two differences I see in recipes are this.......

Put chicken into simmering water, and simmer till done, but never let boil.

or

Put chicken into water, bring to boil, then to simmer till done.



Other slight variations are to put the chicken into the cold water first then either bring to simmer or boil or add chicken to already heated water then continue with process.
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1000
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

.......with absolute certainty the proper heating sequence to poach [chicken].

well, Q#1 is: what 'authority' are you prepared to accept as "absoute?"

other than peoples living in polar extreme regions, pretty much every culture cooks chicken.
even picking say... "classical French technique" - for example - there's still the problemette that when "classical" was invented, the chicken was not the chicken it is today.
nor is a barnyard chicken quite the same cooking experience as the industrially farmed diet controlled selectively bred carefully chosen "thing" than comes heat sealed in plastic at the supermarket
and even those aren't 'identical' - fryers are the youngest, then the roasters, then (rarely seen in our area) stewers.
roasters are older - but intentionally for the characteristic: larger - I'd be hard pressed to say a modern farmed fryer is more or less tender than a modern farmed roaster... I use them interchangeable - selecting strictly for size
the moniker 'stewing hen' used to be farm talk for an old hen that wasn't laying enough eggs anymore to justify her feed, so we may as well eat her - they were older and tougher and needed to stew half-a-day....

but
I rarely poach / simmer anything other than a whole chicken
I prefer starting in cold water
I notice the meat does not 'shrivel' quite so much as when plunked into hot water, this effect is more noticeable on pieces vs whole bird
the water is salted; hardly a brining solution, but a "mini-brine?"
I also think aromatics plunked in at the cold water stage flavor the bird better; if the aromatics go into hot water they release / go away faster

also to note, there are two "tender&juicy" stages
starting from raw, it cooks to tender, past tender to hard&stiff&dry, then to falling off the bone.
timing is everything <g>
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ERdept



Joined: 24 Apr 2008
Posts: 39
Location: LA

PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh noooo, Dilbert. Still on that, huh?

Thanks anyway. Laughing Out Loud
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1000
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Still on that, huh?

huh?
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GaryProtein



Joined: 26 Oct 2005
Posts: 535

PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most of the recipes I have seen called for placing the chicken in boiling water. When I poach chicken, I normally have also made chicken soup, which means the vegetables have been boiled first in the water and then the chicken is added, which allows the flavors from vegetables herbs and spices to penetrate the chicken. The chicken then can be finished as you please. I usually put it in a very hot oven to crisp the skin and make a light crust on the surface, but you may or may not want to do that if you were making chicken salad.

Of course, you could also let the boiled vegetable and herb infusion cool down before you put the chicken in as Dilbert prefers. I never thought to do it that way, and I suppose the skin will remain more smoothly distributed around the chicken that way.
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ERdept



Joined: 24 Apr 2008
Posts: 39
Location: LA

PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 1:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So Gary, what you're saying is that you put the chicken into boiling water and continue cooking at the boiling temp till done?

I thought a hard boil constantly on the chicken creates a tough striingy beast. Always under the impression that it needed to be poached at simmering.
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DrBiggles



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 355
Location: Richmond, CA

PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ERdept wrote:
So Gary, what you're saying is that you put the chicken into boiling water and continue cooking at the boiling temp till done?

I thought a hard boil constantly on the chicken creates a tough striingy beast. Always under the impression that it needed to be poached at simmering.


While I'm unable to quote classical anything, throwing a hunk of meat in to boiling water usually does just what you said. They way I look at it is, "How would I like to be put in to the pot, pan, smoker, oven?" I love my food and it shows.

My new favorite thing is to make a traditional-like chicken soup, without the chicken. Either smoke, or grill with heavy smoke, the chicken and add to bowl. Then, pour soup over smoked chicken. That's some badass soup.

Biggles
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GaryProtein



Joined: 26 Oct 2005
Posts: 535

PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2008 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never had my chicken come out stringy when I cooked it in a soup. I probably cook it longer than you have because if I don't keep tabs on it, there reaches a point where it just falls off the bone, and I don't like it when that happens.
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broilerJ



Joined: 30 May 2008
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2008 2:06 am    Post subject: poached chicken Reply with quote

Simply put thawed cold chicken into a skillet with water at 180 degrees F, maintain temp. at 180F for 5-7 min. for breast and about 8-9 min. for dark meat. Save wings for something better.
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ERdept



Joined: 24 Apr 2008
Posts: 39
Location: LA

PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2008 8:30 pm    Post subject: Re: poached chicken Reply with quote

broilerJ wrote:
Simply put thawed cold chicken into a skillet with water at 180 degrees F, maintain temp. at 180F for 5-7 min. for breast and about 8-9 min. for dark meat. Save wings for something better.


Brioler,

Thank you, This is exactly what I was searching for. Just an answer.
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DrBiggles



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 355
Location: Richmond, CA

PostPosted: Sat May 31, 2008 1:40 am    Post subject: Re: poached chicken Reply with quote

ERdept wrote:
broilerJ wrote:
Simply put thawed cold chicken into a skillet with water at 180 degrees F, maintain temp. at 180F for 5-7 min. for breast and about 8-9 min. for dark meat. Save wings for something better.


Brioler,

Thank you, This is exactly what I was searching for. Just an answer.


That's it? Is that all there is?

Someone drops by with something simple and you take it for gospel? What happened to your studying of the traditional methods? I sat down with Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Gastronomique, Fireside Cookbook & La Bonne Cuisine (cooking with Josephine Araldo didn't render what I was seeking) and came up with 2 very good points, and an agreed upon method.

When poaching your fowl, it must be done whole and completely covered with cold water to begin with, a lid must be used. Cold water allows the juices to escape the bird for a far richer sauce, and the then the boiling water seals in the rest (James Beard). As far as times and temperatures, none give exact answers. Simmer, not boil, pull when done. Sure cooking is a science, but you must also use your senses to know when something is ready.

Out of the few books I read through, Madame E. Saint-Ange's La Bonne Cuisine I found the most exacting about procedure. She made it quite clear that if you cut up your bird, then poach, that's moving towards a fricassee. The results from a whole bird versus a cut up one are completely different. Reminds me of Pepin in his nice fussy French ways. Which is one of the reasons he moved to the states, we'll eat what he prepares and love it without nitpicking about method.

Saint-Ange also has a nice paragraph about braising, very cool. By her standards, I have never braised meat and most of you have probably not either. There is a specific method as to the size of the meat, versus the size of the pan, versus the amount of liquid. You cannot, and will not, change anything. It's a pretty darned great read if I do say so myself. Plus it was published by my most favorite publisher EVER, Ten Speed Press.

I've had these cookbooks, and many more, in my library for over 30 years. They've guided me through the thick and thin and burnt of this and that.

I don't get it. You're all smart an junk, but you had to come here to learn how to poach a chicken? Poach a chicken. Man, I think if I wanted to learn how to poach a chicken I'd find me someone from China, I figure they've done it all and thousands of years ago.

xo, Biggles
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ERdept



Joined: 24 Apr 2008
Posts: 39
Location: LA

PostPosted: Sat May 31, 2008 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DrBiggles,

You follow me like a bad stink. Please leave me alone. I'm asking formally now.

Yes, this is originally what I was looking for. THE way to poach, with the debate being whether it starts in cool and simmers only. Or stars to simmer, then boils, or starts as a boil, then simmers to finnish.

I didn't need an attack or reference about French cooking that I made in another post to be dredged up and flung in my face, as a child cannot let go of a petty playground act.

We're on a simple topic in the now. In this present moment. A simple question requires a simple answer.

Someone saw the melee and wandering post and came in to just answer the question appropriately.

Perfect. Thank you sir. and as is said, children will be children.
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DrBiggles



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 355
Location: Richmond, CA

PostPosted: Sat May 31, 2008 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ERdept wrote:
DrBiggles,

You follow me like a bad stink. Please leave me alone. I'm asking formally now.

Yes, this is originally what I was looking for. THE way to poach, with the debate being whether it starts in cool and simmers only. Or stars to simmer, then boils, or starts as a boil, then simmers to finnish.

I didn't need an attack or reference about French cooking that I made in another post to be dredged up and flung in my face, as a child cannot let go of a petty playground act.

We're on a simple topic in the now. In this present moment. A simple question requires a simple answer.

Someone saw the melee and wandering post and came in to just answer the question appropriately.

Perfect. Thank you sir. and as is said, children will be children.


Point taken and yes I will be and forever a child. I formally accept your request and will mind my myself. Cheers!

Biggles
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1619
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Sat May 31, 2008 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, I guess I'll step in here and say a couple things...

ERDept, we're glad you're coming to Cooking For Engineers, you're eager to learn about cooking, and you're tenacious enough to search for the "correct" way to do things. It's a good attitude to have. Unfortunately, there must be some misunderstanding about cooking - although fundamentally it is science and can be approached from an engineering/analytical perspective, a great deal of it is an art. There are very few questions in the world of cooking that can be answered with a short, neat answer. That's why it takes me so long to write an article and why they are so long! Compare the articles that get published here with the articles on other (far more prolific) food sites and you can get a feel for how complicated something like boiling pasta, grilling a steak, or poaching chicken can be. I (We) are not making it more complicated than it needs to be, it IS more complicated than more people perceive it to be.

You asked a question: Can anyone tell me with absolute certainty the proper heating sequence to poach.

This leads to several quandaries for those of us knowledgeable about food.
1. Different individuals, cultures, and even recipes have different definitions as to what poach means. So we first need to establish or guess what your personal history has lead you to believe "poaching" is. For example, I believe the definition of poaching is to simmer in water set to a temperature at or slightly above the target temperature of the meat being poached - unless it's eggs where the temperature of the water is significantly higher - about 180F (just forming small bubbles). That in itself is a pretty accurate definition, but already getting long winded and applies only to myself. (Which is why I keep thinking I need to update my glossary article.)

2. The key words "absolute certainty" is a trigger point for most engineers, scientists, and doctors. We love to go off on this. There is rarely anything certain in this world and this is doubly true when concerning food. Does "proper heating sequence" mean "proper" as in traditionally done so it can be called "poaching" or does it mean the "best" method to achieve tenderness? In your question you clearly state you were looking for tenderness so that clears up some confusion.

Both 1 & 2 can lead to discussions of culture and classical cooking techniques before diving into what works best for each of us individually. There are a number of external factors such as ease of execution: one may choose to bring the water to a simmer and then add the bird because it's easier to keep an eye on it thus resulting a tenderer bird because you don't overcook - but someone who puts it in a substantial amount of cold water (the bird be resting on the bottom of the pot) and brings it to a simmer probably has the superior technique but is MUCH harder to accomplish unless the only thing you're doing is monitoring water temperature (this is why those recipes advocating this technique simply say, bring it to a boil and then reduce the temperature - ideally, you'd bring it up to 180F and hold it there until the breast reaches about 160-165 and the legs are 180F).

It's unfortunate that you were hung up on Dilbert's attempts to clarify what other factors he was considering when answering your question as his answer was quite good. It's also unfortunate that you have chosen not to look past DrBiggles's sense of humor and read what he has to say because he is one of the most knowledgeable cooks on this board.

Also, I would caution against using broilerJ's technique unless you do it first with a meat thermometer to ensure that the chicken is done after the times stated. Legs should be about 180, breast at 165. His technique is imprecise, but could work for many people - you have to keep in mind the amount of water used (important because water is the carrier for heat in poaching and too little water may not cook the chicken as fast because when you insert the cold chicken, the water cools and needs to be brought back up to temperature), the temperature of chicken (should be around 35-40F, no warmer for food safety reasons), the size of the chicken (Dilbert mentioned this his first response, larger "roaster" chickens take longer too cook than "fryers" as will the breed of chicken), pot type (the type of metal and amount of metal can have a profound affect on the cooking time because of how efficiently it can provide additional heat to the water as the water loses energy). The technique also only allows you to poach chicken parts, not a whole chicken.

BroilerJ's answer was simple, straightforward, everything you're looking for, but in actuality counterproductive to the task of learning to poach something properly. In the end, we can tell you what methods work best for us, but you should go and poach a chicken, measure it's temperature to make sure it's safe to eat, eat it, and write down what you did if you like it so you'll have a poaching technique that guarantees a minimum level of performance for you.
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ERdept



Joined: 24 Apr 2008
Posts: 39
Location: LA

PostPosted: Sat May 31, 2008 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for your concerns M. Chu,

A lot of bad assumptions on your part.

I pick and choose the info I am given and the times given were too short.

The only thing I was looking for was the start of the process. To start in Hot and let cool.

To start in cool and heat to simmering.

Or, to start in cool, boil, then simmer.


I know what I need, now, and the times necessary. Dr. Biggle, though helpfull, was in the same breath, condesending, and had to dredge up other post to fling back at me.

So, to defend those action as just innocent humor is intellectual dishonesty.

Thanks. If this is your board and you don't like what I say and are that petty, ban me.

I'm looking for just info here. Nothing else, so I don't need the other BS.

Thanks for your playing momma too. Don't need that either.

OK, friends are we? Have a beer or wine on me. Let's move on.
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