Poaching is an excellent way of cooking chicken that is to be eaten cold since it keeps it particularly moist. An added bonus is the stock, which can be frozen for later use.
Free range chicken weighing about 3½lb
stick of celery
1 dessertsp. salt
8 black peppercorns
For the sauce:
1 bunch watercress
¼ pt chicken stock
2 oz double cream
Place the chicken in a saucepan that fits it well and surround it with the flavouring ingredients. Pour on enough boiling water to come about half way up the legs. Bring back to simmering point and cover with a lid. Simmer gently for an hour, checking every now and again to make sure that the water is doing nothing more than bringing gentle bubbles to the surface, if it cooks too fast the chicken will be tough. After an hour test to see whether the chicken is cooked. With practise you will be able to judge this by waggling the legs to see if they give easily but if you’re not sure push a knife into the thickest part of the leg to see if the juices run clear. Try not to do this too often as it’s better to keep these precious juices in the meat.
Lift the chicken out carefully tilting it so that the liquid within the cavity runs back into the pan. Keep it covered whilst you make the sauce.
Chop the watercress in a food processor then pour on the hot chicken stock which will wilt the leaves . Tip into a saucepan and add the cream then heat gently making sure the sauce does not boil which would spoil the fresh colour and taste. Taste and season if required.
Serve with Jersey Royal potatoes.