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Kate Heyhoe

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Meal Morphing

...with Succulent Chinese Chicken

by Kate Heyhoe

 

Definition:

Meal morph: To transform previously cooked recipes into new meals that taste distinctly different from the original dish; not the same as leftovers, which are merely reheated portions of the same meal.

 

I created the term meal morphing in my book, Cooking with Kids for Dummies—a handbook for busy families on preparing quick, tasty, nutritious meals. If you've ever cut off bits of Thanksgiving turkey meat and seasoned it with chiles and cumin for taco filling, or fried cooked cubed turkey with potatoes and onions for a hash, then you've already practiced meal morphing.

Chicken

This week's recipe, Succulent Chinese Chicken, cooks a whole chicken with almost no effort. But serve only half of it in one meal and save the rest, refrigerated for up to 3 days, or by freezing the remaining chicken, bones and all, in the broth. (A zipper freezer bag works especially well.)

Tune in next week when I morph the remaining chicken into crisp and crunchy Napa Chicken Salad, featuring toasted hazelnuts. Two weeks from now, I'll follow up with a different morphed variation: warm and comforting Hearty Wonton Soup. (Look for more recipes like these in Cooking with Kids for Dummies, to be released in March, 1999, by IDG Books.)

 

Kate's Basics Recipe:
Succulent Chinese Chicken

The Chinese method of poaching chicken leaves it far more tender and moist than the traditional Western technique. In both methods, the chicken is placed in a pot and covered with water. In the Western method, the chicken simmers until fully cooked and is then removed from the liquid. In the Chinese method, the chicken simmers until only partially cooked, then the flame is turned off and the chicken stays in the pot, where the hot liquid finishes cooking it as it cools. Instead of drying out, the Chinese poached chicken meat stays delicate and moist, retaining more of the true chicken flavor.

Serve this chicken at room temperature, shredded with dipping sauces or use it in any recipe calling for cooked chicken meat. This recipe gives instructions for cooking a whole chicken, with tips for cooking chicken breasts below. Plan ahead and morph the left over broth and meat into a second meal, as Hearty Wonton Soup or Napa Chicken Salad two recipes to be featured here next weekend. For safety's sake, the cooked chicken and broth from this recipe should be frozen if not using again within three days. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight or thaw in a microwave before use.

Preparation time: less than 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes, plus 1 hour to sit
Yield: 1 whole chicken, cooked

 

Ingredients and steps:

1 whole chicken, about 4 pounds
2 to 3 teaspoons salt (the larger the bird, the more salt is needed)
1-1/2 inches fresh ginger
5 green onions
1 tablespoon dry sherry

 

1. Remove the giblet bag from the chicken and reserve for another use.

2. Rub the chicken all over with the salt, including inside the cavity.

3. Place the chicken and neck in a pot just large enough to hold them.

4. Cut the ginger into 6 slices, leaving the skin on.

5. Cut the green onions into 2-inch lengths.

6. Add the ginger, green onion and sherry to the pot.

7. Fill the pot with enough water to just cover the chicken by 1/2 inch.

8. Bring the water to a boil on high heat.

9. Using a slotted spoon, skim away the brown scum that rises to the top and discard.

10. Cover the pot and reduce the heat. Simmer the chicken 20 minutes.

11. Turn off the heat. Leave the chicken covered in the pot for 1 hour. Serve as desired, or see suggestions below.

 

Tip: Refrigerate the entire pot of chicken and broth. The next day, the fat will congeal; remove and discard it. Serve the chicken and broth as desired, removing the skin, ginger and green onions before use. You may also freeze the chicken and broth until ready to use.

Variations: To poach boneless, skinless breasts, follow the recipe above, using 3 to 3-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 1-inch of ginger cut in slices and 4 green onions. Simmer 12 minutes only before letting chicken rest 1 hour in broth.

 

Suggestions for Chinese poached chicken meat:

Shred chicken and dip or drizzle with any of these sauces:

  • soy sauce
  • barbecue sauce
  • herb vinegar
  • salad dressing
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • mustard sauce
  • salsa

or:

  • Add to salads
  • Make a soup of the broth and chicken, adding vegetables, pasta or potatoes.
  • Serve with grilled vegetables and couscous.
  • Top with red, green or fruit salsa for tacos and enchiladas.
  • Mix with barbecue sauce and bake on pizza.
  • Slice for sandwiches.
  • Use the broth wherever chicken broth is called for.
  • Cook dried beans or rice in the broth.
 

Meal Morphing

 

Recipe copyright 1998, from Cooking with Kids for Dummies, by Kate Heyhoe. (Release date: March 1999, IDG Books). All rights reserved.

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