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Saturday, June 12, 2010

How to Poach a Chicken Breast

Low-Cal But Still Lovely
Chicken: a great, healthy, low-calorie choice. Frankly, I could eat it three times a week and be happy. I used to just go to the supermarket and buy any chicken, mostly I buy breasts because they are so easy. But it seems in the past few years the breasts have gotten bigger (abnormally large) due to mass market processing and they tastes rubbery and just bad. So I stopped buying supermarket chicken and I buy all-natural, sometimes organic, chickens. What a difference it makes! Besides the meal being more flavorful and tender, it's healthier. You can now get these all over town. Sunflower, Trader Joe's, Whole Paycheck, the Montanita Co-op.

Chicken can be roasted, marinated and grilled, served hot or cold, or poached. Poaching is one of my favorite ways to cook chicken. I have noticed most people do not know how to poach a chicken breast so I am going to teach you how.

You start by making a stock. In a large pot of water add 4 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns, 1 carrot chopped, 2 celery stalks, 1/2 a lemon sliced up, and 1 coarsely chopped onion. Boil that till it smells really good. Then add you chicken breasts. The liquid will cool down and stop boiling. Watch the pot until the liquid returns to the boil then lower the flame so the stock is just simmering ans small bubbles are making their way to the surface. If you just leave the chicken on high boil, the breast will be hard and rubbery. You need to cook them gently so they are tender. Keep your eyes on the pot to keep the cooking slow.

Depending on the size of the breasts it will take anywhere from 10-20 minutes to cook. Test for doneness by taking out a piece of chicken and with two forks try tearing the breast in half. It should be white. Nobody likes al dente pink poultry. This meat is great to shred or dice. I like to eat it with a little low cal green goddess dressing over greens. Try it for a change.