Sunday, October 21, 2012

Poached Frozen Chicken Breast & Chicken Salad

I like chicken, I do, but I have bad memories of being served tough, stringy platefuls of it as a child.  So all of my cooking methods involve tenderizing it as shown here and here.  But finding the time to cook remains a problem.  I'd be embarrassed to tell you how many times I've bought fresh chicken from the store only to throw it away a week later when I still haven't gotten around to cooking it.  Safe to say that now I only buy frozen chicken, which takes a long time to thaw.  Recently I heard about poaching as a fast cooking method, but all of the recipes I saw were specifically for fresh chicken.  The question was if frozen chicken could be poached, and if so, would it be any good?  The answer was a resounding yes, with tender, juicy chicken straight from freezer to mouth in 30 minutes.

  • For poached chicken:
    • 8 oz frozen chicken breast
    • vegetable or chicken broth
    • white wine
  • For chicken salad:
    • ½ cup fresh herbs, such as dill, tarragon, and basil
    • salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
    • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
    • 2 tablespoons sour cream
    • 8-inch tortillas for serving
The journey begins with the retrieval of a frozen chicken breast from the Birchwood freezer.

Yes, I have big breasts.  I should, I mean I paid for them and everything!  This particular monster was a full 8 ounces.

Portion out enough water to cover the chicken breast in a covered pan.  This will vary anywhere between 2-8 cups depending on the size and depth of the chicken and the pan you're cooking it in.  Add enough broth to make half strength bouillon.  Wonder how I know that it only has to be half strength?  Because the first time I made this, I was running low on bouillon, that's how.

Submerge the chicken in the broth.  Don't be shy about adding more water/bouillon to cover the breast.

Add in a generous glug of white wine, cover the pan, and turn the heat on to high.  And then my favorite part of the recipe, leave the kitchen until the liquid boils.

Let it boil for about a minute and turn off the heat.  Leave it covered and go away for about 20 minutes.

Retrieve the now poached chicken from the pan.  

Take a quick slice into it to check for doneness.  If you see anything pink, drop it back into the pan and ignore it for a few more minutes while it finishes cooking.  Pick over the chicken for anything that you wouldn't normally eat, like the fatty pieces and veiney things that you normally pick off before cooking thawed chicken.

 The remaining liquid is bona fide chicken stock, which you can save to make chicken soup or whatever it is people do with stock.  Or just discard it.

Now of course, there are many things you can do with the poached chicken, but on this particular day I was craving chicken salad.  So I chopped it.

Oh celery, you are good for nothing but adding crunch to chicken salad.  IMHO, the ideal celery-to-chicken portion is 1 stalk to 4 ounces.

Chop up a selection of fresh garden herbs.  I used basil, tarragon, and dill.

Mix in enough white stuff to hold it together.  Mayo is always a good choice, but I also like to thin it out with reduced fat sour cream to lighten things up a little.  Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Portion the salad into a tortilla and wrap it up.

Toast it in a skillet on all sides for a few minutes.

And you know where to take it from here!