Are you looking for a healthier way to cook chicken breasts? Forget the grill, use your skillet to poach it for a low-carb dinner with chicken breasts that cooks up silky, tender, and flavorful.
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The ingredients needed to poach chicken breasts are simple and easy to find. Here's what you will need:
- Chicken: We poach four large skinless, boneless breasts in this recipe.
- Aromatics: Onions, garlic, and ginger are the foundation of the liquid for cooking the meat.
- Vegetables: Celery and carrots add more flavor to the broth.
- Herbs: Fresh parsley, thyme, bay leaves, and dill infuse the broth to poach the breasts.
- Liquid: Water and white wine make up the broth which to poach the meat making it tender and juicy.
How to Make
Start by prepping all the ingredients to poach the breasts.
- Cover the meat with cold water and place the aromatics and spices on top.
- Bring the liquid to poach the meat to a simmer over medium-high heat. You'll start to see bubbles at the edges. Lower the heat and let it simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the meat registers 160°F on a meat thermometer, or the juices run clear when cut at the thickest part.
3. Skim the foam off the top. Remove the meat from the skillet, then pour the broth into a strainer. Make sure to put a pot or bowl underneath to catch the broth.
4. Discard the aromatics. If necessary, use a spoon to remove any stay thyme leaves from the broth.
5. Put the meat back into the broth and allow it to cool. If you're poaching the meat ahead of time, cover and place it in the fridge overnight.
6. Slice and serve. Enjoy!
No, these two methods are slightly different. Poaching is a cooking technique where the food is simmered in a liquid at a low heat (160-180F). By using this cooking technique, very little moisture is lost, and the food is infused with a lovely flavor. Boiling, on the other hand, cooks food at a much higher temperature.
The time will vary depending on the size and thickness of the breasts. A large breast will simmer in the poaching liquid for 15 to 20 minutes. You can cut larger pieces in half for tenders which may help them cook in less time.
Since no fat is used, poaching this meat is a healthy alternative to pan or deep frying.
The most likely culprit is the temperature of the water used during cooking. The secret to silky, tender breasts is to start the meat in cold water, bring it to a simmer, and cook over low heat.
Poach breasts to eat as a main course sliced with a sauce or gravy pour over the top, cubed in a Cobb or salad, or shredded in dips, casseroles, Mexican food, or pot pies. As an added bonus, the broth can be saved for your next homemade soup or cooking rice.
- Make ahead: Poach breast in advance to use during the week. For best results, store it in the broth to keep it moist and to make it even more flavorful.
- Leftovers: Store leftover breasts in the broth in the refrigerator for up to three days.
- Freezer: Cube, chop, slice, or shred the meat before placing it in a freezer bag and storing it in the freezer for three months.
- Need quick and easy? To reduce kitchen time, it is more convenient to use skinless, boneless breasts.
- Want more flavor and moisture? Choose skin-on, bone-in breasts.
- Amount to cook: One large, skinless, boneless breast yields about one and one-half cups of cubed meat. Use this information as a tool to scale a recipe up or down.
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How to Poach Chicken Breasts
- 4 large chicken breasts
- 3 cups cold filtered water
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup celery, chopped
- ½ cup carrots, sliced in coins
- 3 sprigs fresh parsley
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- ⅓ cup dill sprigs
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced in coins
- Rinse the breasts and lay them in a single layer in a large skillet. Cover the meat ¾ way with cold water.
- Thinly slice the onions and separate into rings, then chop the celery, cut the carrots, and slice the ginger into coins.
- Place the onion, celery, carrot, ginger, wine, and spices on top of the meat. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. You will notice bubbles forming at the edges of the skillet. Be sure not to let it boil, as the extra heat will make the breast meat tough.
- To poach, reduce the heat to medium-low, keep the skillet covered, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes (for large breasts) or 8 to 10 minutes (for tenders). The meat is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 160 F at the thickest part, or when the juices run clear when cut in half and the breast meat is no longer pink.
- Skim the foam off the surface. Remove the meat from the skillet and place in a container with sides. Strain the aromatics and spices from the broth using a sieve placed over a bowl or small pot. Pour the broth over top of the breasts and let it cool in the broth. This will help the meat soak up more flavor and be more moist. Keep the broth to use for soups or cooking rice.
- Once it has cooled completely, remove it from the broth and place on a cutting board and cut as desired. Make sure to slice it across the grain.
- Serve this meat cold or hot and use it in salads, Cobb salad, sandwiches, wraps, dips, pot pies, casseroles, or simply sliced and smothered with gravy.
- To reduce kitchen time, it is more convenient to use skinless, boneless breasts.
- Want more flavor and moisture? Poach skin-on, bone-in breasts.
- One large, skinless, boneless breast yields about one and one-half cups of cubed meat. Use this information as a tool to scale a recipe up or down.
Our how to poach chicken breasts recipe was originally published on July 19, 2018.