Poach boneless chicken breasts for flavor, tenderness

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This time of year, 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 that comes on top of a salad or pasta, or is made into a sandwich. But one little trick will change all that. You can poach your boneless, skinless chicken breasts and they will be juicy, flavorful, plump and tender.

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

Choose boneless, skinless chicken breasts that aren’t too large; they shouldn’t look like turkey breasts. If they’re too large, they’re often tough before you start cooking them.

When I am ready to poach, I fill a heavy-duty 4- or 5-quart pot with a mixture of 6 to 7 cups of water and chicken broth, add a cup of white wine, some herbs, carrots, onions, celery, etc., just as if I were making a stock. Next, I add the raw chicken breasts — four or five maximum. I bring it all to a rolling boil and let it boil for about one minute. Then I turn the heat off, put a lid on the pot and let it sit for an hour. The chicken breasts absorb the flavors of the stock as they sit and cook, and become plump and tender. They are very easy to shred with your fingers at this point.

Wait a full hour and the poached chicken breasts are done and ready for your recipe or your meal. If you are poaching chicken to make chicken salad, I love that the chicken can be either cubed or shredded. Some people prefer a shredded chicken salad and do this in the food processor. The poached chicken is 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 to mine for a classic chicken salad.

For a change of pace, add a touch of curry powder to the mayo and add raisins, sliced red grapes and celery. It’s time to start enjoying chicken again!