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 very gentle simmer (barely bubbling) and cook, uncovered, for 10-14 minutes. Timing will depend on the thickness of the breasts. Check for doneness after 10 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 and no pink juices, 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.
This recipe is assuming each whole chicken breast weighs about 1 pound – or 8 ounces per half breast. If your chicken breasts are much smaller than this, check for doneness after 8 minutes of simmering.