Poaching is a lost art. As a cooking teacher, I often teach students how to poach an egg. Usually, in every class, there are only one or two people who have poached an egg before. Everyone else stares at me blankly when I say the word.
And for most of us, poaching an egg might be all the poaching we ever do in our kitchen. I recently went on a quest, however, to figure out how to poach boneless chicken breasts. They had always been tricky for me, as they quickly cross the line from "done" to "dry tough leather" in a couple of minutes during cooking. With poaching, they come out juicy, tender, and full of flavor.
Not only that, but poaching has become a go-to technique for me when I need chicken for a recipe. I can easily poach my chicken, then turn it into chicken salad, enchiladas, or anything else! Also, this method of cooking is low fat, as you are not cooking with any oil.
Here are the fruits of my experiments, people. You're welcome.
First, you get some boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You put them in a pot and cover them with cold water. Add a generous amount of salt. I think I added about a tablespoon. Poaching is also a great way to add other flavors to your food. I added a vegetable bullion cube here. You can also add lemon zest, garlic, or anything else you want to flavor your chicken. But the salt is key. It helps keep the chicken juicy.
Then, bring the pot to a boil over medium heat. As soon as the water starts to boil, turn it down to low. You will have to play around with your oven's settings to find what will produce the right temperature water. Now, poaching is not the same as simmering. With simmering, you see a steady stream of small bubbles. With poaching, you should see the water steaming and moving around, but not actually bubbling. Cooking the chicken at this slightly lower temperature prevents it from getting tough.
So, you let the chicken poach for 25 minutes. Then, take the pot off the burner and let the chicken sit in the hot water for another 15 minutes. When you take it out of the water, it will be ready to eat or put in other recipes. You won't believe the difference this cooking method makes! Give it a try, and let me know how it goes!
I'm a school librarian, cookbook author, and longtime fan of food and literature. Welcome to my blog!