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How to Poach Chicken

Poaching chicken is another very healthy option, for the reason that no fat or oil is added during the cooking process. Because of the slow simmering process, the flavor, moisture and tenderness of the chicken are all preserved.  Poaching is also an option of cooking for meat that is normally tough and dry, such as chicken breasts or whole chickens.  An added advantage is the extra flavor; taste is absorbed from the bones and meat, giving you a rich, unique flavor.

A poached chicken has use in many chicken recipes; the meat itself can be incorporated into salads, sandwiches and pastas, and the broth left over can be used as a sauce for the main-dish chicken, or as a soup on its own.

The chicken should be placed in a saucepan and surrounded in a tight fit with the vegetables you will be using. Completely cover the chicken and vegetables with water; try to use a shallow as dish as possible, because too much water will provide your broth with a watered down flavor.

Do not limit yourself to just water; you can use other liquids for poaching, such as wine or juice; it all depends on what you want your end dish to taste like.

After bringing the pot to a boil and skimming off the foam that forms on the surface, turn the heat down and leave on a low simmer. During this time, you should partially cover the pan. 

You can check when the meat is done by cutting into the thickest areas of the chicken and seeing if the juices that run out are clear.

After taking the pan off the heat, leave it to rest for at least 15 minutes. The purpose of this is to let the meat soak up the juices and become moister.
One of the most important things to remember when poaching is that after bringing the water to an initial boil, it should be left on a low simmer, where the water barely moves and only a few bubbles protrude occasionally. Boiling for too long will cause the meat to be tough and stringy.

Chicken Poaching Tips:

  • Add herbs and spices to the water to give the meat extra flavor. Some suggested ingredients are rosemary, sage, dill, onions or garlic.
  • If you want your chicken to remain white, rub the skin with lemon juice before cooking, and poach in lemon juice or white wine vinegar.
  • If you intend to eat the chicken cold or to save it for later, it should be left to rest after cooking for a longer period. However, avoid this if you are in warm weather; the chicken will spoilt if left unrefrigerated for too long.
  • If you want to use the broth for other purposes, after cutting the chicken add the bones of the chicken to the broth and simmer again.

Chicken Recipes


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Last Modified: 11/28/11.