A method for poaching chicken which retains all the chicken's flavor and juices without overcooking the breast meat.
This recipe is designed for chicken breasts, but you can also do this with turkey breast, pork tenderloin or a meaty fish such as halibut.
You can double this recipe, but if you do, use a larger pot and double the amount of poaching water.
- 1 skinless chicken breast (1/2 pound)
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- A couple pinches of salt
- A couple pinches of a dried herb of your choice - tarragon, oregano, basil, rosemary, or thyme, or some other seasoning such as cumin or paprika
- Plastic wrap*
*Use a good quality plastic wrap that can withstand some heat. Look for packaging that indicates you can use the plastic wrap in a microwave oven. If it can handle a microwave oven, it will hold up in boiling water.
1 Trim all the fat from the chicken breast and slice it lengthwise. In a small bowl mix the lemon juice, salt, and herbs. Add the chicken pieces and coat all over with the lemon juice mixture. Let the chicken pieces sit in the lemon juice while you heat the water in the next step.
2 Bring a pot of water (2 1/2 quarts of water, 4 quart pot) to a high simmer.
3 Roll out a long sheet of plastic wrap at least twice as long as the chicken breast slices. Place 1 chicken strip on the plastic wrap, in the middle. Roll up the chicken in the plastic wrap tightly. Compress as much air out of the chicken as you can as you roll it. Once the chicken is rolled up, rotate it on your cutting board or counter several times to tighten the cylinder even more. Tie the loose ends of the plastic wrap together in a double knot. Repeat with the second chicken strip.
4 Once the water has reached a high simmer, turn off the heat (keep the pot on the burner though) and drop the rolled-up chicken cylinders in the pot. Cover the pot and let the chicken steep for 15 minutes. The chicken should be cooked through by then. (If for some reason the chicken is not cooked through, for example if you are using larger than called for breasts, or if you are using frozen chicken that hadn't quite defrosted before starting cooking, you can always put the chicken back in the poaching liquid for a few more minutes.)
5 To serve, snip off the tied ends of the plastic wrap, and unwrap. Note that there will be some juice inside the plastic wrap with the chicken, which has lots of flavor. So you might want to unwrap the chicken pieces over a bowl or something to catch the juice, which you can then pour over the chicken if you want. Or serve the chicken with a sauce of your choice.