Saturday, 26 July 2014

Simple Summer Chicken Salad with Ayrshire Potatoes

Poached chicken and summer vegetables salad with Ayrshire potatoes

We have certainly had a considerably better than average summer in Scotland this year so far, with many hours of bright sunshine and temperatures soaring. This means that if you have a greenhouse and/or vegetable patch or garden, you may well have a lot of salad veg ready for the table. This recipe is an easy, tasty and healthy suggestion for using homegrown lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, or any similar ingredient you wish.

Final preparations are made to chicken for poaching

Ingredients (Serves Four)

1 free range, organic chicken
2 red onions
1 large carrot
1 mild green chilli pepper
1 mild red chilli pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 bay leaves
Salt and black pepper
2 pounds (900g) baby Ayrshire new potatoes
3 free range, organic eggs
2 small lettuces
2 medium tomatoes
1/2 medium to large cucumber
Wedge of unsalted Scottish butter
Scattering of dried dill

Chicken poaching vegetable accompaniments


It's not essential but - where it hasn't already been done - I like to cut the lower, bony leg parts and the parson's nose off the chicken as a first step. This gives the chicken more room in the pot. Sit the chicken in a large stock or soup pot, initially breasts side up.

If you don't have a large stock or soup pot, there is a danger that you will get to this stage of the recipe and find you don't have a pot large enough to cook the chicken as described. That would not be a happy situation to find yourself in! Amazon is of course a great place to pick up bargains like this and above is just one example apiece of the countless items of this type currently available on Amazon UK and Remember that, where cared for properly, these pots last for many years and can be used for a huge variety of purposes. A very worthwhile purchase in anyone's book.

Chicken, vegetables and seasonings prepared for poaching

Wash, top and roughly chop the carrot and chilli peppers. There is no need to peel or scrape the carrot and no need to remove the seeds from the chillies. Peel and quarter the onions. These vegetables are of course merely suggestions for making stock and represent what I had in the fridge requiring to be used. You could use white onions instead of red and bell peppers or celery instead of the chilli peppers, to name but a few suggestions.

Add the vegetables and herbs to the pot with the chicken, seasoning well with salt and pepper. Pour in enough cold water to comfortably cover the chicken and put the pot on to a high heat until the water just starts to boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot and let the chicken simmer gently for half an hour. After this time, use two large slotted spoons to very carefully turn the chicken on to  its breasts side and simmer for a further half hour in the same way.

After what should be a total of one hour's simmering, turn the heat off and leave the chicken alone to cool in the liquid for at least a couple of hours.

Baby Ayrshire potatoes ready for boiling

When the chicken is pretty much cool, wash the baby Ayrshire potatoes and add them to a large pot. Pour in enough cold water to comfortably cover the potatoes, season with salt and bring to a simmer for about twenty minutes.

Cooling hard boiled eggs for peeling

When the potatoes are simmering, put the eggs in to a pot and add enough cold water to completely cover. Bring to a simmer for eight to ten minutes, depending upon the size of your eggs.

Take the pot to the sink and run cold water in it until the eggs are cool enough to handle. Crack the shells carefully on a hard surface and peel. Return the eggs to the pot full of freezing cold water and cool them quickly in this way to stop the blue/grey discolouration forming around the yolks.

Rapidly cooling peeled hard boiled eggs

Lift the chicken carefully from the cool liquid to a large plate. It looks pretty unappetising at this point but don't worry - the meat will be beautiful and moist when you get rid of the skin and pluck it from the bones.

Poached and cooled whole chicken

Pull the chicken apart in any way you wish, peel off and discard the skin and pick the flesh off the bones in bite-sized lumps, laying them as you do so in a separate dish.

Poached chicken meat is removed from bones

The tomatoes and cucumber should be washed in cold water and dried with kitchen paper. Pick the leaves individually from the lettuces, put them in a large colander and wash thoroughly under running cold water.

Vegetables for simple summer salad

If you have one of those spinning salad driers, you should of course use that. Alternatively, you could do what I do and lay the leaves in a single layer on half a clean tea towel before folding the other half over the top and patting dry.

Drying washed lettuce leaves

Shred the lettuce leaves and add them to a large serving dish with the chicken. You may well have too much chicken meat. If this is the case, it will keep covered in the fridge for a couple of days to be used for any one of a number of alternative purposes.

Chicken pieces and shredded lettuce are added to salad serving dish

Carefully toss the lettuce and chicken to combine, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper.

Chicken and shredded lettuce form main salad bed

Cut the tomatoes in to wedges. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and chop in to crescent shaped wedges. Lay both at regular ontervals on the salad bed.

Tomato and cucumber wedges are added to chicken and lettuce salad

I carefully quartered the eggs with a sharp knife. Look closely and you will see no discolouration around the yolk. That's a result of cooling them quickly, submerged in cold water.

Quartered hard boiled eggs

Lay the eggs on top of the salad. You could if you wish also scatter with a freshly chopped herb such as chives at this stage. Season with a little more salt.

Hard boiled egg quarters are arranged on top of salad

Drain the potatoes at your sink through a colander and return to the empty pot. Add the butter and dried dill. Stir carefully with a wooden spoon until the butter is melted and the potatoes evenly coated. Transfer the potatoes to a serving dish and take both dishes to the table to serve.

Butter and dill is added to drained Ayrshire potatoes

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