Cold roast chicken is a craving that won’t go away. Not that I’d want it to. I’ve loved it ever since I was a small boy (I’m a certified big boy now). Yesterday’s chicken, snatched from its Tupperware hide-out, straight from the refrigerator, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper, paper napkin on the side. It is a ritual I’ll never tire of.
You hold the chicken with your fingers, gnawing on the bones until not a scrap remains. There’s even something attractive about the wrinkly cold skin.
If it’s a leg, the tasty crunchy bits are not to be ignored. With a breast, it’s the scant-but-delicious meat that sticks to the bones that is the best part. A whole leftover carcass offers even more nibbling possibilities.
On the other hand, I love a boiled chicken. Completely different from a crisp-skinned roasted chicken, sometimes a boiled chicken is just the thing. It can be wonderful served hot — in a hearty tortilla soup, perhaps, or simmered Southern-style with dumplings. But it can just as easily be eaten cold. A vast assortment of chicken salads comes to mind.
The Chinese approach to cold boiled chicken is worth mastering. For many dishes, the chicken is not really boiled; rather, it is cooked quite slowly at a bare simmer. Some recipes call for bringing the pot to a simmer, then turning off the heat and letting the chicken steep in the hot liquid until cooked. This traditional method produces meat that is guaranteed to stay moist and silky.
A glaze flavored with soy sauce and sesame chicken tops the chicken.CreditAndrew Scrivani for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Iah Pinkney
Some make it with a whole bird, but my recipe uses whole legs seasoned with five-spice powder. Into the pot go scallions, ginger, star anise and turmeric, which infuse the meat with flavor.
Instead of being sliced, the chicken is usually chopped with a sharp cleaver right through the bones into chunks. I like it best that way, but using meaty chicken wing “drumettes” — or, if preferred, boneless chicken thighs — is another option.
Painted with a savory soy-and-sesame glaze and showered with chopped peanuts, cilantro and chiles, this cold chicken is perfect for a picnic, light lunch or summer supper. In warm weather, cold sesame chicken is especially welcome.
Recipe: Cold Sesame Chicken