Poached Chicken: The Best & Fool-Proof Way to Cook Chicken
This is different from boiling chicken.
My husband hates boiled meats and insists that includes poached chicken. Until I make it for him and he squeals with delight. Boiled chicken is tough and dry. Poached chicken is perfect. Poached chicken means you heat the water and chicken at the same time, so the meat isn't shocked by the hot temperatures, keeping it loose and juicy. This is also called "cold start."
Wrap in a tortilla, top a Caesar salad, mix with Dijon and capers, hide under your favorite sauce in a grain & veggie bowl.
fresh, raw chicken, recommended with skin removed - use any cut of meat, including with bones
optional: wine, beer, stock, bay leaves, favorite spices
Depending on your time situation, you have a couple cooking options.
Start with the chicken in a saucepan and covering it with water, at least 1 inch above the chicken. Add a few pinches of salt and set the heat to medium high to bring the water to a rolling boil.
If using wine, beer, or stock, pour that in first. Use as much as half the total amount of liquid.
Remove the white foam that appears on top of the water.
Reduce the heat to a low boil, cover, and cook until the chicken is opaque through the middle.
If you have a thermometer, cook until the thickest part reads 165 degrees.
For 1 chicken breast, I needed about 8 minutes.
At this point you can cut the chicken however you like. I like to shred it for chicken salads and for Mexican-inspired dishes - but slicing or dicing also works.
Now for storage - after you’ve cut the chicken how you like, pour the cooking liquid over the meat and store in the frig. You can also freeze cooked chicken this way. So it’s worth cooking a lot at one time and saving for later what you don’t immediately need.
The chicken will be fine for 5-7 days in the frig like this.
If you’re using multiple pieces of chicken, use a pot that’s wide enough to hold all the pieces in a single layer. They can overlap a little bit, but it’s best that they don’t.
You can poach just one piece or an entire bird. And you can enhance the flavor of the chicken by seasoning the cooking liquid with wine, beer, bay leaves, or spices. The cooking liquid can be saved to cook grains or vegetables or even a soup broth.
You can leave the skin on, but it makes the liquid greasy, so most of you will probably want to remove the skin before poaching.
The other cooking method, if you need to start it and move on to something else takes a little over an hour.
Start with the chicken in the pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let the chicken and liquid sit for an hour, or until the liquid is cool enough to put your hand in it.