Ever wonder how some people make the most tender chicken salads?
Chances are, they poach the meat. Poaching is a wonderful way to create light and delicious meals, and it’s as simple as bringing liquid to a gentle simmer. With poaching, you cook your meat, vegetables, or fruit in a flavorful broth that’s kept below the boiling point. The lower temperature allows you to better control the process and, in the case of meat, yields a much more tender product. Your food should always remain completely submerged and covered so that the moist heat can do its work.
Poached chicken breasts can stand alone or serve as the foundation for many other meals. I love the following recipe because it makes such a light, cool summer meal; it’s almost like chicken salad without the chopping. Better yet, by poaching a big batch of chicken breasts all at once, I have a jump start on a week’s worth of meals. —Judy Feagin
Bring the chicken broth and the next five ingredients to a simmer in a large Dutch oven. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, then cover and cook 12 minutes, or until the chicken is done. Remove the chicken from the broth, reserving the broth for other uses. Cover chicken and chill.
Distribute the lettuce leaves evenly among four plates. Serve the chicken over the lettuce. Spoon Lemon-Dill Cream Sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with toasted almond slices. Garnish with fresh dill, if desired.
Process first five ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Stir in dill. Makes ⅔ cup.
For quick summer meals, poach a big batch of chicken breasts for the following recipes.
Cobb Salad: Toss chopped poached chicken with torn lettuce. Top with chopped green onion, chopped hard-cooked eggs, sliced tomatoes, sliced avocado, blue cheese, crumbled cooked bacon, and your favorite vinaigrette.
Chicken and Wild Rice Soup: Bring reserved chicken broth to a simmer. Add contents of a 6.2-ounce box of fast-cooking wild rice mix, including seasoning package. Cook 5 minutes. Add 2 chopped poached chicken breasts and 1 cup half-and-half or heavy cream. Cook until thoroughly heated. Do not boil.
Chicken Salad: Add 1 cup chopped celery, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, and mayonnaise to lightly coat 2 chopped poached chicken breasts. Serve over lettuce leaves or as a sandwich filling.
Chicken Quesadillas: Place 4 8-inch flour tortillas on your counter. Divide 8 ounces shredded Pepper Jack cheese and 2 thinly sliced poached chicken breasts among the tortillas. Top each with another tortilla. Heat a skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add 1 quesadilla and cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Repeat with remaining quesadillas. Cut in wedges and serve with commercial salsa and sour cream.