Poached Chicken, Hazelnut, Watercress and Pea Salad

With Lemon Grass Dressing


Preparation info

    • Difficulty


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By Peter Gordon

Published 2005

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A simple salad like this relies on the best and very freshest ingredients. Buy the most expensive, high-quality chicken that you can afford – you be glad you did once you’ve tasted the finished product. If you can’t get hold of lemon grass, then use the equivalent amount of finely grated lemon zest in the dressing and use lemon peel in the poaching liquor.


  • large handful of fresh thyme
  • small handful of fresh oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 2 celery stalks, each cut into 4
  • 1 large carrot, quartered
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 1 large chicken, (about 1.5–1.8 kg)
  • large handful of skinned hazelnuts
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 handfuls of peas, blanched and refreshed in cold water
  • 2 bunches of watercress, thick stems removed


Cut the base 2 cm up from the bottom of each lemon grass stalk, then cut the end off, leaving you with two 5 cm pieces. Peel the outer tough 2 or 3 layers off these and put the base, ends and outer layers into a large deep pot (one that’ll just hold the chicken comfortably). Remove 1 heaped teaspoon of the thyme leaves from the stems and put to one side, then add the thyme, oregano, bay leaves, garlic, celery, carrot, wine and a little salt to the pot and pour in 2.5 litres of water. Bring to the boil, then simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Remove the legs and thighs from the chicken and add to the stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Add the carcass and bring back to the boil, then again turn down to a rapid simmer and cook for 18 minutes (for a 1.5 kg bird – it’ll be a little longer for a larger bird). To check to see if it’s ready, as the bird will finish cooking in the liquor, remove one of the legs from the stock and cut into the thickest part – it should be almost cooked through; if it’s still a little raw-looking, then keep simmering for another 5 minutes before turning the heat off. If it’s looking almost cooked, then turn the heat off and leave to cool completely in the stock with a lid on the pot.

While the chicken is cooking, preheat the oven to 170°C, gas 3½. Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and cook until golden – around 10–15 minutes, shaking them as they cook to colour them evenly. Remove from the oven, turn it off and leave to cool. Finely chop one-third of the hazelnuts with a knife or grind in a small food processor and keep to one side.

Slice the tender inner parts of the lemon grass as thinly as you can and put in a jar with the lemon juice, olive oil and a little seasoning. Put the lid on and give it a good shake.

Once the chicken has cooled in the stock, remove it and drain the stock through a fine sieve (see note right). Using your fingers or a knife, remove the meat from the legs and carcass of the chicken, then break or slice into chunks.