I know planning meals can be difficult in a busy household. Parents and kids are running from dawn to dusk, and usually much, much later. A trip to the grocery store feels like an extremely daunting task, but the last thing you need is a trip to the fast-food place. It’s bad for your budget AND your health.
What’s the answer? Having a pantry and refrigerator filled with food items for quick, healthy meals is the perfect solution to feed any busy family.
And what food items are the best to keep on hand? Well, aside from washed and cut vegetables, cooked rice, and cans of black beans, I can’t think of another ready-to-serve food item that is a more welcome sight than poached chicken breasts.
Having a few cooked chicken breasts, either whole or diced, will save you from nights of frustration when you’re looking at your family sitting around the table, waiting patiently while their little tummies rumble.
Preparing poached chicken is easier than you might think. The trick is to have a few “recipes” so all your chicken doesn’t start to taste the same. You know “chicken fatigue” will spell disaster when your family gets really hungry and starts munching on chips in order to avoid yet another chicken dish.
Let’s look at a couple simple poaching techniques and recipes to keep your chicken not only ready-to-eat, but tasty, too:
Sweet and Tangy
One of my favorite, and more unique, poached chicken recipes is a sweet and tangy style. In a large pot, bring apple juice or apple cider to a boil. (The amount will depend on how many chicken breasts you are poaching; make sure you have enough liquid to cover the chicken breasts.)
Turn the heat down to low immediately when the juice comes to a boil, and place chicken breasts in liquid; the liquid should be at a very low simmer and have a “shimmering” appearance to it; do not reboil.
Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is just cooked; test one piece by cutting through to be sure the meat is white. Remove chicken from pot and allow to cool.
This sweet-poached approach will give this chicken the perfect taste compliment needed for a Waldorf salad, Teriyaki vegetable stir-fry, fruit and chicken cold salads, or any number of Asian inspired dishes.
Savory and Herbed
Another approach to take for your poached chicken breasts is a savory mix. In a large pot, pour chicken broth and add some garlic, onion, celery, rosemary, thyme, and a bay leaf. Bring the liquid to a boil. (Again, make sure you have enough liquid so the chicken breasts will be completely covered when you put them in.)
Turn heat down to low, place chicken breasts in pot, making sure they are immersed well, then follow the same poaching instructions as above.
This savory-poached approach will create the perfect chicken to design a Mediterranean style dish with eggplant, tomatoes, red peppers, and the like. You’ll also find this savory poached chicken stands up well in stuffed green peppers, baked spaghetti, or any hearty soups and casseroles.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with the ingredients you use to poach chicken breasts. I have even seen tomato juice used as a poaching liquid. And what about adding a bit of white wine?
The trick is to try several different approaches so that your chicken doesn’t end up all tasting the same. Then, whatever recipe you use, your chicken dinner will be delicious and a one-of-a-kind delight!
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