Monday, February 15, 2010

Poached Chicken

I was sitting at work one day, bored out of my mind, trying to stay awake, and I happened to pick up a copy of Everyday Food. Yes, I know I'm supposed to SORT the mail and not READ it, but I needed to make sure the address wasn't on the INSIDE of the magazine....aaaaanyway....
I started reading about basic poached chicken. It's really more of a cooking method than an exact recipe. You can poach chicken in just about any kind of liquid, even something as simple as plain water. I guess that sounds pretty bland, but your chicken will still be perfectly cooked, and then you'll have a blank slate to use a base for any recipe. Of course, the more flavors you add to your poaching liquid, the more flavor your chicken will have. The result is a delicious and succulent chicken that is perfect for using in any recipe where you'd normally use a store-bought rotisserie chicken. The advantage of a poached chicken is that it's lower in sodium and lower in fat, while still staying moist and delicious.
Your poaching liquid can be fat-free chicken broth, white wine, water infused with fresh or dried herbs and chopped vegetables, fruit juices, light coconut milk – pretty much anything. These are the ingredients I added to plain water. The chicken turned out perfectly!
Give it a try!

1/4 medium onion,
1 medium carrot, cut into thirds
1 rib of celery, cut into thirds
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 slices lemon (optional)*
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
(about 8 ounces each)

Place all ingredients except chicken in a large straight sided skillet or pot. Add enough water to cover by 1/2 inch. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Boil for 3 minutes. Add chicken. Bring it back to a low low simmer, just enough to see a tiny bubble here and there. Cover skillet with a tight fitting lid and remove from heat. Let it stand until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 15-18 minutes. Immediately remove chicken from the poaching liquid. Using two forks, pull the chicken apart into shreds, or just slice it with a large knife. Add to salads, soups, tacos, and sandwiches.

You can flavor the poaching liquid with whatever aromatics you have on hand.
This recipe is just a guideline.
Try fresh ginger and soy sauce, or oranges and fresh rosemary.
Actually, come to think of it, if I were doing soy sauce and ginger, I'd probably add a splash of pineapple juice. Yum!
*You may want to just squeeze a little lemon juice into the pan instead of adding the lemon slices. If you leave the slices in the water too long, the rind starts to add a bitterness to the broth. Another alternative would be to add some grated lemon zest, or you can just omit it altogether.
Speaking of the broth, you can freeze it and save it for use in other soups or stews or sauces. If you make it like I've listed above, it's basically like making home made chicken stock. Simply freeze it in ice cube trays, then you can use a little or a lot as you need it. Easy!!

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