Poaching your bone-in split chicken breasts allows you to cook moist, flavorful chicken breasts that are suitable to use as an entree or for chilling and slicing to add to salads or sandwiches. This gentle cooking method slowly simmers the meat and keeps the chicken breast moist while infusing it with the flavor of your poaching liquid. As an added bonus, since you’re cooking with poaching liquids such as chicken broth and/or wine, the end result is low in fat without sacrificing flavor.
Clean, peel and chop any aromatic vegetables that you are going to use and add them to your pot. Some examples include garlic, onion, leeks, carrots, celery, turnips or parsley, although you can use whatever you like best.
Remove the skin from the split chicken breasts and place them in the pot on top of the vegetables. You can leave the skin on while you poach the chicken, but by removing it before you get started, you’ll reduce the amount of fat that you’ll need to skim off during the cooking process. It will also be ready to serve when it finishes cooking.
Pour your poaching liquid into the pot, adding just enough to cover the chicken. Although you can use any single liquid or combination of liquids you like, it's important to remember that the poaching liquid should be very flavorful. Common poaching liquids include water, broth or milk combined with an acid such as wine, vinegar or lemon juice.
Add any dried or fresh herbs directly to the pot or tied in a small piece of cheesecloth known as a bouquet garni. Common herbs used for poaching chicken include bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns or rosemary.
Place the pot on your stove top and turn the burner on to medium or medium-high. Bring the pot to just under a simmer before checking the liquid with an instant-read thermometer. The ideal poaching temperatures range from 160 degrees to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the liquid is in the ideal range, lower the heat and partially cover the pot.
Skim the fat off the top of the liquid with a slotted spoon. Continue poaching the split breasts for roughly 20 to 25 minutes or until the chicken's internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Use an instant-read thermometer in the meatiest part of the breast.
Remove the chicken from the liquid. Serve it immediately, using the poaching liquid as a sauce if desired. Alternatively, let the chicken cool and refrigerate it to slice or dice for use in other recipes such as enchiladas or chicken salad.
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- Choose a saucepan or pot that is large enough to fit your split chicken breasts in a single layer and deep enough to accommodate the poaching liquid. Although they make special equipment for poaching, you don't need to buy anything new.
- Avoid poaching your chicken in anything made of cast iron since the metal can actually give the chicken an off flavor.
Caryn Anderson combines extensive behind-the-scenes writing experience with her passion for all things food, fashion, garden and travel. Bitten by the travel bug at the age of 15 after a trip to Europe, Anderson fostered her love of style and fashion while living in New York City and earning her degree at New York University.
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