World T'ai Chi & Qigong Day FOOD
     Poached Chicken w/ Mustard Cream Sauce
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Poached Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce

by Charlie Burke

Copyright 2005

A simple and often overlooked method for preparing chicken is

poaching. Many "roasting" chickens weigh four to five pounds,

which is larger than the ideal size to roast.

These larger sizes actually have more flavor and cook evenly in

poaching liquid, which then becomes a flavorful broth for use in

a sauce or a soup. (The liquid is a broth when the raw meat is

cooked in it, while a stock is made from previously cooked

bones.) Poaching also produces moist meat for chicken salads

and sandwiches. Using free range or organically raised chicken

increases flavor in both the broth and the meat.

Herbs, spices and aromatic vegetables added to the pot yield

their flavor to both the broth and the chicken, permitting the

cook to blend favorites. Vegetables used to flavor the broth will

be overcooked when the chicken is done, but potatoes and

other vegetables can be added toward the end of cooking for a

one pot meal. Carrots and mild turnips are traditional, but others

such as squash, leeks and parsnips would be fine. I particularly

like the flavor of tarragon with chicken, and its subtle flavor in

the broth carried over into the simple mustard cream sauce

made for this meal. The broth, alone, spooned over the chicken

and vegetables, makes an excellent sauce and is actually the way

poached chicken is usually served. Whisking in some butter

enriches its flavor.

4 - 6 ample servings:

1 4 ½ - 6 pound chicken

1 medium onion

1 carrot

1 celery stalk

1-2 garlic cloves, whole

1 teaspoon whole pepper corns

1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds

3 large sprigs tarragon

2 Turkish bay leaves

1 tablespoon sea salt


1 cup cooking broth

1 tablespoon Dijon type mustard

¼ cup cream, sour cream or no fat cream substitute

Wash chicken under cold water, place one tarragon sprig into

the cavity and place into a large pot. Add remaining ingredients

and cold water to cover the chicken. Bring to a boil over

medium to high heat, reduce to simmer and cover. Skim surface

of solids occasionally and cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours. If adding

vegetables for the meal, cut them into equal size and add at 1

hour. They can be removed if done before the chicken or left in

the broth to continue cooking if necessary once chicken is done.

Cook chicken until the legs move loosely or the temperature of

the thigh is 175 degrees. Remove from broth, place on carving

board and tent with foil. Let rest at least ten minutes, and carve

just before serving. Strain broth and skim excess fat from the


To make sauce:

Place the one cup of broth into a small sauce pan over high heat

and boil until reduced by half. Remove from heat, and whisk in

mustard and cream. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the sliced chicken with your choice of vegetables and with

either the broth or mustard sauce. It makes a great family meal

and is equally appropriate for guests.

Poaching is easy, and the cooking is largely untended. Become

familiar with it, adding your own favorite flavors to the broth for

economical and versatile meals. The leftover broth and chicken

for soups and sandwiches are an added bonus.

About the author:

An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the

vice president of the New Hampshire Farmer's Market

Association ( His column & recipes appear

weekly in The Heart of New England's newsletter...

get a free subscription by sending a blank email to: or visit

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