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I have a problem when I cook a chicken. Usually, I will divide the chicken into smaller parts. However, when I cook the chicken by placing in a soup, I often get the meat too hard at the outside and soggy in the inside.

Any insight on making my chicken consistent from outside to inside?

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3 Answers 3

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When poaching chicken (whether in soup or in some other liquid), you need to be careful not to cook the chicken too long. Overcooked boiled chicken will be flavorless and have a bad texture.

For chicken breasts, if they're whole, don't cook the breasts for more than 10 to 15 minutes at a simmer, although you can leave the meat in the liquid for another 15 minutes so long as the heat is turned off. Here are some recipes for poached chicken.

On the other hand, if you're trying to make chicken soup, you're going to want to cook the chicken much longer, but that meat will be fairly inedible. By simmering chicken on the bone for an hour or two, you'll get a nice flavorful stock, but you'll overcook the meat.

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Thanks Martha, usually I cook the chicken for around 30 minutes in order to make the inside not soggy but end up with a outside that is too hard to be swallow. By the way, can the soggy still remain if I cook for 10 to 15 minutes? (I think 10 to 15 minutes will make the outside tender but will the inside still soggy or worst - raw not cooked?) –  Anderson Karu Nov 29 '11 at 5:13
    
@AndersonKaru -- There are two main ways to ensure thorough cooking of the inside. 1) Cut the chicken into smaller pieces, or 2) Let the chicken "rest" by leaving it in the poaching liquid without adding additional heat for some time. This will allow the heat to radiate throughout the chicken without overcooking the outside by adding more heat there. –  Martha F. Nov 29 '11 at 5:16
    
Thanks for the suggestion. I will try out the "chicken rest" method. I tried the "chicken cutting" method but that is quite a lot of work when one in a hurry. –  Anderson Karu Nov 29 '11 at 5:21

If you're cooking chicken in a soup - effectively poaching it, and it's hard on the outside but not on the inside that suggests to me one of two possible problems:

1) it's hard on the outside because it's overcooked, so cook it less.

2) probably more likely - you're poaching it at too high a temperature. Many people's incorrect idea of simmering something is more like a rolling boil - the water should be bubbling gently from the bottom of the pan, rising to the surface not bubbling a lot on the top.

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You might try a quick saute of the cut chicken pieces first, to seal in the juices and moisture.

Then add it to your soup or sauce being careful to not over cook. Since it's very easy to over cook chicken in a soup, try adding the chicken near the end of your cook time.

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