Simple to prepare and cook with so many different uses, here’s our guide to making perfect shredded chicken
With it ready to go in the fridge, shredded chicken can be used in salads, soups, stir-fries, tacos and sandwiches. But when recipes ask for shredded chicken, they often don’t give you the details on the best way to prepare it. Follow our top tricks and tips to ensure you get every bit of meat off the bone and it stays meltingly tender.
You’re much better off using a whole chicken for shredding and the poaching method below is the best way to cook it. Chicken breasts dry out too quickly because they are small and become stringy. A whole chicken is also much better value, but if you prefer, you can use chicken thighs instead. Do buy them on the bone, though, as the bones add flavour to the cooking liquor.
How to cook the chicken
Poaching is the best way to ensure your chicken is perfectly moist and tender. It also guarantees that the meat will come away from the bone easily so there’s no waste.
Put your chicken in a large pot with vegetables (carrots, onion, celery and leeks), garlic, fresh parsley and thyme. Add some peppercorns and bay leaves. Bring it to the boil then leave it to simmer until cooked through, which takes around 50 minutes.
You can also add different aromatics to the broth. For example, if you’re planning on using the shredded chicken for Thai-style recipes, you could put in a bashed lemongrass stalk, dried chilli, fresh coriander stalks and a piece of peeled ginger. For Indian-inspired recipes, you could add a cinnamon stick, toasted coriander seeds and toasted cumin seeds.
How to shred the chicken
Once your chicken is cooked through (you can check by piercing the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer to see if the juices are running clear), remove it from the stock and allow it to cool slightly until you can handle it. It’s much easier to shred the chicken when it is still hot, so you could use a new pair of rubber gloves or food-safe gloves to protect your hands. As the chicken has been poached, it’s very moist so you’ll be able to pull off every bit of meat. Remember to flip the chicken over too, to pull off the meat from the underside.
Carefully remove the skin and set aside. Now pull the meat away from the bone and put it into a large bowl. You can shred it in two ways. Either just use your hands to pull it apart, or if you prefer, use a fork in each hand.
Once the chicken is shredded, put it into a lidded container and add a ladleful of the cooking liquor to prevent it drying out. Once it’s cooled enough, store it in the fridge or freeze portions if you prefer.
Strain the stock through a sieve and reduce down by a third to freeze for future use. It would be perfect in this smoky chicken and black bean stew recipe.
Mowie Kay/Ryland Peters & Small
Remember that chicken skin you set aside before shredding the chicken? It won’t go to waste! Lay the pieces of skin on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Cover with another piece of parchment and another baking tray – this stops the skin curling up. Bake at 220°C/428°F/gas mark 7 for 15 minutes, or until perfectly crisp. You can eat it as a snack or use it to top a salad or in a chicken sandwich.
READ MORE: Super simple recipes anyone can cook
Recipes using shredded chicken
If you want to make use of the shredded chicken and its flavourful poaching liquor, soups are a great idea. Try this Thai-style chicken and coconut broth or replace the frying steak and beef stock in this speedy noodle soup recipe with your poultry stock and shredded chicken. For something more rich and hearty, give creamy chicken soup with fluffy dumplings a go.
Cravings: Hungry for More/Michael Joseph
Make your chicken go even further by stuffing it into burritos with beans, salsa and guacamole; tossing through crowd-pleasing pad Thai; or stirring through vegetables, potatoes and sauce for comforting chicken pot pie.
Main image: zoryanchik/Shutterstock
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