Beginning cooks ask me all the time: What cooking techniques are most important?
The answer is simple -- As many of them as you can learn. -- And, never stop learning!
As soon as I think I've gotten pretty handy in the kitchen, I watch an episode of The Barefoot Contessa or I crack open, "The Taste of Southern Cooking," by Edna Lewis and get schooled on something new.
The point is, be patient with yourself, and before you know it, you'll be sharing cooking secrets with another home chef as green as you used to be.
So, on the topic of learning the essentials, there's nothing quite as important to healthy cooking as poaching lean cuts of poultry. Recently, I shared a recipe forSweet Potato and Chicken Hash. The funny thing is, I got more questions about how to poach chicken than about my favorite hash recipe! So, naturally, I had to bring you guys an in-depth blog post on how to poach chicken perfectly every time.
Drea, Why do I need to poach my chicken breasts, what's wrong with baking them in the oven?
Surely you jest! Baked white meat chicken is about as tasty as shoe leather, unless it's been marinating for 24 hours -- and who has that kind of time?
Once you poach your chicken, let it rest and redistribute the flavors. In 20 minutes, it will be moist, easy to slice and downright delicious. Poached chicken breasts are the perfect compliment to tossed salad, a leaner protein alternative to add to pasta dishes, soft tortilla roll-ups, use it in pulled BBQ chicken sandwiches, chicken salad, and the list goes on.
Then, there's the chicken broth you've made with the leftover liquid. It makes a great base for soups and it's cheaper and tastier than the store-bought version. Store in the freezer, in small containers, so you can take out just what you need -- this stuff is precious, you can never have too much.
I made a delicious Sweet Potato and Chicken Soup with the leftover hash. It's soup recipe is easy; save your chicken broth, add water, bring to a boil, stir in your favorite pasta, cook until barely done. Then, stir in leftover hash and fresh chopped herbs. If you're going low-carb, skip the pasta and add more veggies
Perfect Poached Chicken Breasts
Recipe by Drea Witt - Vermilion Lane blog
2-3 bone-in chicken breasts
Enough water to barely cover chicken
1 bay leaf
½ lemon (sliced)
1 small bunch parsley
2 sprigs thyme (optional)
¼ onion (large slices)
1 stalk celery (roughly chopped, with leaves)
1 large carrot (roughly chopped)
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper
In a large pot, combine chicken and all ingredients; cover with water by about 1/2 inch. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer 15-20 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove from heat and allow to rest, loosely covered with aluminum foil, for 15 minutes. Remove skin, pull chicken meat away from bone and slice accordingly.