How to Boil a Chicken

Chicken is a very versatile type of meat that is not only particularly healthy but makes a great addition to many kinds of plates. While some may be slightly intimidated at the thought and processing of boiling a whole chicken, the steps themselves are relatively problem free as long as a few precautions are taken.

The process of boiling a chicken itself also leaves you plenty of time to prepare other portions of the meal such as a salad, vegetables or potatoes. The result always ends up in soft, easy to tear chicken that can be used in multiple applications such as sandwiches, stews or salads.

Purchasing a Proper Chicken

In any meal preparation process, it’s important to select quality ingredients in order to get the best out of your meal. Markets and grocery stores keep a variety of chickens well stocked for their customers. Broiler-fryers are some of the most common. These are 1-3 pound young chickens that derive their name from their popular use in broiling, frying and roasting. Broiler-fryers are also sold in cut up variations, which are good choices for boiling. Stewing hens are another larger variety at 4-7 lbs. These hens are most appropriate for those who really want well tenderized meat that is also great for soups and stews.

Regardless of what type of chicken you purchase, make sure that the package has a Grade A rating from the U.S.D.A and inspect both the package and the chicken. Holes and compromises on the package result in quicker spoilage and it’s best to avoid chickens that appear to have a very grey skin color. Keep in mind that a typical broiler-fryer will be good for about 3-5 servings.

Thawing out the Chicken

Chickens are usually kept frozen in order to preserve the meat. This allows you to use the chicken later on without having to strictly adhere to the expiration date. The first appropriate step is to properly thaw the chicken. The most common methods of thawing are by placing the chicken in the refrigerator or in a bowl of cold water. You will find that others may also place the chicken on a platter and into a water filled sink.  If using the bowl of water method, make sure to place the chicken in a plastic bag first.

If room temperature is a problem, you will have to refill the bowl with cold water in order to properly thaw the chicken. Depending on the size of the chicken, expect a 2-4 hour waiting period before the chicken is ready to be boiled.

Necessary Equipment

How to Boil Chicken

How to Boil Chicken

Before a chicken gets thrown in to boil, it’s important to be mindful about a few things. First, you’ll need the proper equipment to get the chicken to boil appropriately. Luckily, it doesn’t take much to get a well boiled chicken. You’ll need a large pot or crock pot, a meat thermometer and a stove – naturally.

Check that you have the other ingredients for your meal. It’s common to add onions, carrots, celery and potatoes to the pot with the chicken. Flavor additives such as salt, peppercorn and olive oil should also be considered.

Boiling Chicken

Once everything is ready to go, it’s simply a matter of properly boiling the chicken until its tender and flavorful. Boiling chicken starts with placing cold water into the pot that you will be using. The chicken should then be placed into the pot. Other aforementioned ingredients can also be added. Setting the stove to mid-high and covering the top of the pot with a lid will get the boiling process started.

It’s important to watch for the water to start boiling. Once you hear and see water bubbles growing in the pot, adjust the heat until its at a low or simmer setting. The goal is to get the water at boiling or near boiling without subjecting the chicken and other foods to excessive heat. This will get the chicken nice and tender.

Boiling Time length

The boiling time length will vary depending on the size of your chicken. The general rule is that a chicken will take between 40 – 60 minutes to boil. Usually, this gives people plenty of time to prepare other parts of their meal. If you’re not going to place vegetables or potatoes into the pot to boil with the chicken, now is a good time to work on the rest of the recipe if necessary.

Finished Product

While it may take 40-60 minutes for the chicken to boil, it’s never good to simply run the risk and gauge it by time alone. Using a meat thermometer takes a lot of the guessing out of the equation.

With the thermometer placed into the chicken, wait for the thermometer to stabilize its reading. Once the chicken is between 160 – 180 degrees Fahrenheit, you can turn the stove heat completely off. Double check that the chicken is complete by making a deep cut and inspecting for any pink colored meat. If it is pink, it still requires more boiling. Once there is no visible pink meat on the chicken, feel free to remove the contents of the pot and prepare the chicken to be served.

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