Poached Chicken

Preparation info

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By James Peterson

Published 1991

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If you’re repeating this dish with any frequency, save the poaching liquid from the previous batch for poaching each new chicken. The poaching liquid’s flavor will continue to improve. By serving the poaching liquid around the chicken, you have a dish that’s perfectly lean, but you can also enrich it with a little cream and flavor it with herbs, especially chopped tarragon. You can also thicken the poaching liquid with egg yolks as described in the variation that follows.

This simple and satisfying version can be presented by simply serving the sliced chicken in wide soup bowls with the reduced broth, a sort of chicken à la ficelle. The broth can be scented with whole leaves of basil, chopped herbs, truffles, cubes of ham, and the like.


chicken, 1 4 lb 2 kg
carrots, sectioned, turned (turning optional) 2 large 2 large
turnip, cut into wedges, turned (turning optional) 1 large 1 large
cold chicken stock or water, to cover 6 qt 6 L
bouquet garni (about 7 sprigs fresh tarragon, 1 bay leaf, 1 bunch parsley) 1 1
string beans, ends snapped off 8 oz 225 g
peas, fresh or frozen (optional) ½ cup 125 ml
salt and pepper to taste to taste


  1. Truss the chicken and put it in a pot surrounded with the carrots and turnips.
  2. Add enough stock to cover and nestle in the bouquet garni. Bring to a gentle simmer and simmer until the juices are clear when you poke the joint between the thigh and the drumstick. During the poaching, skim off any fat and scum that float to the surface.
  3. Add the string beans to the poaching liquid and simmer until they lose their crunch, about 5 minutes. Add the peas, if using, and simmer for 1 minute.
  4. Season the broth with salt and pepper and ladle it around the quartered chicken in soup plates. Distribute the vegetables among the servings.


The poaching liquid can be finished with a variety of thickeners. The best known is to finish the sauce as you would a Sauce Allemande, with cream and egg yolks. This classic method for poaching chicken and finishing the poaching liquid with roux and a liaison of cream and egg yolks is the same as preparing a white veal stew (blanquette). It is also similar to a fricassée, except that a fricassée is made with cut-up chicken that is usually partially cooked gently in butter before being moistened with stock. Use about 1 egg yolk and about 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) cream per serving.