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Poach chicken for flavor, tenderness

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                                Poached chicken can be sliced or shredded.


    Poached chicken can be sliced or shredded.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are my go-to protein. You can add them to a grain bowl, a green salad or Caesar, or shred them to make chicken salad, soup, casseroles, one-pot meals, etc.

But so often they are dried out and tasteless. You know what I mean: that flat, rigid, sliced white meat laid atop a salad or made into a sandwich. But one little trick will change all that: Poaching turns chicken breasts juicy, flavorful, plump and tender.

If you can boil water, you can poach chicken breasts:

>> To begin: Choose boneless, skinless breasts that aren’t too large; they shouldn’t be the size of turkey breasts. If they’re too large, they’re often tough before you start cooking them.

>> Set up the pot: Fill a heavy-duty 4- or 5-quart pot with a mixture of 6 to 7 cups of water and chicken broth and a cup of white wine. I add some herbs, carrots, onions, celery, etc., just as if I were making a stock.

>> Add the raw chicken breasts: Four or five maximum. Bring it all to a rolling boil and let it boil for about a minute. Then turn the heat off, cover the pot and let it sit for an hour.

>> What’s happening: The chicken absorbs the flavors of the stock as they sit and cook, becoming plump and tender. They will be easy to shred with your fingers at this point.

>> Wait a full hour: The poached chicken breasts are done and ready for your recipe or your meal.

>> Want a chicken salad? I love that the chicken can be cubed or shredded to make your ideal salad. Some people shred their chicken in a food processor. But poached chicken is really so tender that you don’t need to do anything except cut it into chunks and shred with a fork.

I add mayonnaise, celery, tarragon, white pepper and a pinch of dehydrated garlic for a classic chicken salad.

For a change of pace, add a touch of curry powder to the mayo, mix in the chicken and complete the salad with raisins, sliced red grapes and celery.

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