Poached chicken is one of the world’s easiest recipes, fast and foolproof. All you need is water, an onion, spices, two minutes of prep and fifteen minutes of simmering. Freshly poached chicken is the key to making great chicken salad.
Texture is everything when it comes to great chicken salad. The best dressing can’t do justice to dry, chewy chicken. When you poach chicken breasts from scratch, you get fresh tasting, tender, juicy chicken that will elevate your chicken salad to the highest heights of deliciousness.
HOW TO MAKE PERFECT POACHED CHICKEN BREASTS:
The technique is simple. Place raw chicken breasts in a pot; cover them with cold water by an inch or two; add aromatic herbs and spices; and simmer for 10-14 minutes, until tender. You can adjust the flavor of the chicken by selecting herbs and spices that fit with your recipe. If you’re poaching chicken for curried chicken salad, you might want to throw in some aromatic cloves and allspice berries, maybe a slice of ginger root. If you’re making a vibrant Venezuelan chicken salad, you could toss in a couple of smashed garlic cloves and a few sprigs of cilantro. Or use the simple basic poaching recipe I’ve given you here, and you’ll get great poached chicken that will be delicious in any recipe.
When your poached chicken breasts are cool enough to handle, shred, slice or cube them. I like cubes of poached chicken for my curried chicken salad.
I prefer shredded chicken for my Venezuelan avocado chicken salad.
By the way, if you want to try something amazing, check out these Venezuelan Arepas stuffed with Avocado Chicken Salad.
Keep some chicken breasts in the freezer and you’ll have poached chicken at your fingertips any time you want it. Homemade poached chicken is an excellent choice for any dish that calls for plain sliced, cubed or shredded chicken. Here’s another delicious dish that will be even better with homemade poached chicken, Coconut Curry Chicken Soup.
So will this one – Spicy Sesame Peanut Noodles with Chicken
….and this one – Curried Butternut Squash, Lentil and Chicken Stew
For a healthy lunch or a light dinner, slice your poached chicken breasts, salt and pepper them, and serve them on top of a simple green salad with citrus vinaigrette.
Here’s the recipe for how to make perfect poached chicken. If you try this I hope you’ll come back to leave review and let me know what you think.
- 2 whole boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 4 halves (about 2 pounds)
- ½ small onion, peeled
- 5 whole pepper corns
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- a pinch of salt
- Note: You can add other aromatics to your poaching water. Use whatever you have on hand or tailor the flavors to suit the type of dish your making. Here are some options: smashed garlic cloves, sliced ginger root, parsley stems, cilantro stems, basil stems, a sprig of rosemary, a few sprigs of thyme...
- Place chicken in a large deep pot. Add cold water to 1 inch above the chicken. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat. Immediately lower to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 10-14 minutes. Timing will depend on the thickness of the breasts. Check for doneness after ten minutes by slicing into the thickest part of the breast. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 165. If there's no pink color, that's a good indication of doneness. Immediately remove chicken from the cooking water and let it cool for a few minutes.
- Transfer chicken to a cutting board and shred it, slice it or cut into bite-size cubes. If you're not using it right away, store it in an airtight container in the fridge.