Chicken is high in protein and much leaner than beef. It can be prepared a number of ways and tastes delicious in a variety of different ethnic dishes. It is also an important part of classic dishes such as chicken noodle soup. There are plenty of ways to prepare chicken, but boiling is one of the simplest. Chicken can be boiled in parts or as a whole bird. This preparation method creates a chicken that is extremely tender, so if your recipe calls for shredded chicken, choose this style of cooking. Learning how to boil a chicken is easy and helps you prepare a number of dishes.
Preparing the Chicken for Cooking
Start with a thawed chicken. Though you can sometimes cook meat without thawing, placing frozen chicken in boiling water will create a big mess and possibly an exploded chicken. It is best to begin the boiling process with cool water in a large pot. Fill the pot about two-thirds full and place the chicken or chicken parts in the pot. Set the stove to medium and bring the water to a gentle boil. You can then reduce the heat and allow the chicken to simmer. An average-sized whole bird will take about an hour to cook. When you believe the chicken is done, check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. It is needs to reach 170 degree F for safe consumption.
Boneless chicken breasts are one of the most popular cuts of poultry to cook at home. To boil boneless breasts, fill a medium saucepan with enough water to completely submerge the breasts. Set the stove temperature on high until it reaches a hard boil and then turn it to medium. Boneless breasts typically take eight to ten minutes to cook. You can check the poultry after eight minutes by making a small cut to see if the color is consistent through the entire bird. Chicken is pink when undercooked, but unlike beef, rare poultry is not safe to consume.
Poaching vs. Boiling Chicken
Poaching and boiling are similar methods of cooking, but when poaching, the water does not reach a boil. Poaching chicken takes longer than boiling, but it often results in a finished product that is very tender. Poaching is a popular option for boneless breasts because they cook faster than whole birds. Poaching can be done on the stovetop or in the oven. Oven poaching should be done for at least thirty minutes at 400 degrees F.
If you choose to boil your chicken, there are a number of ways you can increase the flavor and create a delicious final dish. Try boiling the poultry in chicken or vegetable broth instead of plain water. If you do use plain water, you can season the water, just as you would when cooking pasta. Salt can drain some of the moisture out of the poultry while cooking, so opt for other seasons such as cracked black pepper, thyme, or rosemary. You can also add a teaspoon of butter to the water to create a richer boiling broth. Your final dish should also dictate what you add to the boil. If boiling chicken for shredded chicken tacos, add taco seasoning directly to the water, as well as the finished product when shredding. If you are using the chicken in an Asian dish, boil it with ginger or soy sauce.
No matter how you choose to use your poultry, boiling is a simple method for cooking chicken. Learning how to boil chicken prepares you to make a variety of great tasting recipes.