Poaching is a good, neutral way to cook a chicken breast. It contributes only a small amount of flavor to the meat during the cooking process, but it cooks the meat to the precise temperature without going over. The result is tender, juicy, perfectly cooked meat that can be used in many different applications: sandwiches, salads, soups, etc., or you can just cut it up and serve it with your favorite sauce for a healthy, low-fat, protein-filled dinner. You may not have noticed, but I love mushroom sauce, so I’ve included a recipe for that as well.
- 2 chicken breasts
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups dry white wine
- 1-2 cups water (enough to cover the chicken breasts
Steps to Poaching a Chicken Breast
- Pick up some chicken breasts. For poaching chicken breasts, the best type of chicken breast to get is boneless and skinless. Chicken skin will turn to rubber when poached, and the bones do very little to improve the flavor of the meat with the detriment that they slow poaching time. It’s best to get chicken breasts that have been boned and skinned.
- Heat up the poaching liquid. The poaching liquid can be as simple as salted water with lemons or as complex as I have done here. I recommend that you use my recipe; it is very delicious, and the ingredients are easy to come by. Heat up the poaching liquid until it breaks a boil, and then turn it down until the thermometer reads 180 degrees F when placed in the liquid.
- Poach the chicken breasts. Lay the chicken breasts in the poaching liquid, and keep your eye on the temperature of the poaching liquid. Once the temperature gets between 170‒180 degrees F, start a timer for 5 minutes. If your chicken breasts are really big, add a couple of minutes to the timer. Remember to keep the temperature around 180 degrees; you don’t want a boil or even a simmer.
- Set the chicken breasts and poaching liquid off to the side. After the chicken breasts have been in the heated poaching liquid for 5 minutes (or more), remove the pan from the burner and set it off to the side on a hot pad. Let the breasts sit in the pan and poaching liquid for 20 more minutes. They will slowly finish poaching in this liquid.
- Let the poached chicken breasts rest. If you plan to eat the poached chicken breast hot, remove them from the poaching liquid and set them on a cutting board to rest for an additional 10 minutes. You may loosely cover them with aluminum foil. If you’re using the chicken breasts for a cold dish, cool them in the fridge. You may even consider cooling them directly in their poaching liquid.
Tips & Tricks
- Choose nice-smelling and fresh-looking chicken breasts to poach, and remember that boneless and skinless breasts work the best for this recipe.
- The poaching liquid doesn’t have to be made from my recipe, but it is a pretty good one.
- The poaching liquid can even be saved for a few days to be used again if you want.
- Remember not to boil or even simmer the chicken breasts; poaching is done at a lower temperature: about 180 degrees F.
- Let the chicken breasts finish cooking in the poaching liquid off to the side for the full 20 minutes.
- If for any reason the chicken breasts are not done cooking after 20 minutes, place them back in the poaching liquid until they are done.
- The recommended internal temperature for chicken is 161 degrees. The chicken breast may still be just the slightest bit still pink at this temperature.
- Don’t forget to let your meat rest for a few minutes before you cut it up.