Sweat dripping down my back at 7a in the morning while watering my garden indicates that summer is in full swing. However, I refuse to miss the delicate and yummy foods that herald in spring in lieu of the full-blown barbecue season. Barbecue season provides much smoky, fiery, grilled, and charred fun glazed with sticky, sweet sauce – BUT let us give remembrance to the week of south Florida spring. A moment to transition your taste buds from braises and stews to smoky and charred, a fleeting moment perhaps – Lemongrass Poached Chicken with Vegetables. This dish is a one-pot comforting, restorative, reinvigorating cure-all. It is a delicate, brothy chicken infused with lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and Thai chilies.
Lemongrass Poached Chicken and Vegetables
serves 6 generous portions
3 ½ # whole chicken, giblets and neck removed
2 ½ qts cold water
2 stalks lemongrass, outer hard leaves removed and
4 – 1” ginger, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 – 3 Thai bird chilies
½ onion, peeled
5 med carrots, peeled and cut into 1 ½” pieces
4 c Savoy cabbage, 2” pieces
1 c spinach, washed and torn
kosher salt, to taste
ground white pepper, to taste
In a large pot, big enough to submerge the whole chicken, add chicken, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, onion, and Thai bird chilies, cover completely with cold water
Bring pot to a boil; reduce to a low simmer; allow to slowly simmer for 45 to 60 minutes until chicken is completely cooked
Skim and discard any foam that rises to the top of the pot
Remove chicken from the pot; set aside until cool enough to handle
Strain the poaching liquid through a fine mesh strainer; discard the solids; return the poaching liquid back to the pot; return to a simmer; add carrots and Savoy cabbage and cook until just tender
Remove chicken meat from the bone, in large chunks; discard the bones and the skin
Add chicken meat back to the pot; turn off heat; add spinach to the pot and allow to wilt from the heat
Taste and correct seasoning with kosher salt and ground white pepper
The idea for this dish formulated while harvesting the lemongrass growing in my garden. Haphazardly, I cast a handful of lemongrass seeds five years ago in a cinder block filled with soil and promptly ignored it. Without much care or pruning, lemongrass grows out of control, at times reaching well over 65” tall. I hack it back to a more manageable hedge and, almost overnight, it sprouts back up. I usually use lemongrass in the kitchen in Thai, Indonesian, and some western Asian dishes (you can also use it to scent soaps, candles, body washed, lotions, and hair butter blends). It is very necessary for Thai curry paste, Beef Rendang, and makes great tea. Infused into simple syrup, lemongrass adds a tropical floral lemony delicate flavor to sorbets, cocktails, cakes, and sweet salad dressings for fruit salad.
In this dish, lemongrass is refreshing and provides just a slight bit of citrusy acidic to play a formidable Bonnie to the peppery ginger’s Clyde. Serving the poached chicken and vegetables alongside a bowl of steamed white or brown jasmine rice makes it a sustainable meal, though rice, wheat, or soba noodles would be good as well.
always in good T.A.S.T.E – cause you gottatastethis!