Poaching cooks a bird gently without adding fat, and it gives you very juicy and tender meat. Although poaching is a common cooking method for breasts (which are most likely to dry out using other methods) you can poach any chicken part - even a whole chicken.
Assess the size of the chicken or chicken pieces. Chicken needs to poach completely covered in liquid, so the amount of liquid depends on how much chicken there is.
Boil enough water or chicken broth to cover the chicken.
For every quart of liquid, add about 1 cup each chopped onion, carrot and celery.
Add the peppercorns.
Season the liquid very lightly with salt.
Lower the heat so the liquid is just below a simmer. The surface should shimmer. When checked with a food thermometer, the temperature should be about 190 degrees.
Add the chicken or chicken pieces.
Make sure everything is submerged. Weigh down with a plate if necessary.
Cook only until cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes for chicken pieces and 45 minutes to an hour for a whole chicken. Test to make sure the meat is completely cooked through before removing.
Poached chicken is ideal for cold chicken salad, where lightly flavored, juicy chicken is required. Poaching is sometimes the secret tip in some roasted chicken recipes. Try poaching a whole chicken (skin on) for three to four hours, then drying it off completely and roasting it in the hottest oven you can manage to crisp the skin.