Poaching is one of our favorite ways to prepare chicken, especially when we need some cooked protein for a quick weeknight dinner. Think robust salads, savory tacos, next-level sandwiches, and satisfying last-minute soups. Poaching chicken for the next day's work lunch can easily become a habit because this technique of cooking food in a small amount of liquid has a lot going for it. In addition to being ridiculously easy and fast, it's pretty darn hard to mess up. The result is consistent: tender, juicy chicken.
While you can certainly poach bone-in chicken pieces with the skin on, this method of cooking works best with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. While grilling, roasting, or frying caramelizes the skin for enhanced flavor, poaching doesn't bring anything extra to the chicken. Moreover, if you plan to strain and reserve your poaching water for making soups, the skin leaves the liquid kind of greasy. Yuck!
You're probably wondering how poaching chicken works and just exactly how foolproof it really is. Simply place a piece of boneless, skinless chicken breast in a medium saucepan (or a large one, depending on how big the cutlet is) and add water until the liquid just covers the meat. At this point, feel free to add aromatics to the saucepan if you like — think bay leaf, sliced garlic, ginger, and the like. Simmer over low heat until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside. The low temp and moist heat gets the job done in a gentle manner, rendering perfectly cooked chicken every time.
Need a recipe to get you started? Try this one from Cookin Canuck. It's basic and totally adaptable.