White meat is well suited to poaching. On a summer day poached chicken will make a fine one-pot meal. The vegetables simmer alongside the meat and the cooking liquor provides the basis for a classy sauce. Use a good roasting chicken – don’t buy anything labelled boiling fowl as this indicates an older bird, worn out from intensive laying. The selection of vegetables given here is just a guideline: use whatever is freshest and best on the day.
Measure out just enough cold water to cover the chicken and heat it in your chosen pot. When the water comes to the boil, add a pinch of salt, then the chicken and new potatoes. Cover and poach until done – this will take around 40 minutes depending on the size of the chicken.
Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables: destring the runner beans and cut them into thin strips, pod the broad beans and peel off the inner skins, halve the courgettes lengthways. Melt the butter in a small pan and set aside until needed.
Lift the chicken and potatoes out onto a dish. Add the other vegetables to the cooking liquor in the order in which they take to cook: carrots first, then runner beans, and finally broad beans, courgettes and peas. If the vegetables are young, they will take no more than 3 to 4 minutes in total. Lift the cooked vegetables from the stock and place on a dish.
Add the crème fraîche, lemon juice, salt and pepper, then whisk in enough of the remaining hot cooking liquor as needed to thin the sauce. At the last moment, add the fresh herbs.
Carve the chicken into two breast and leg portions. Cut each breast into two and joint the legs into thighs and drumsticks. Divide these and the vegetables between four warmed plates, then spoon over the sauce.
© 2000 Shaun Hill. All rights reserved.