If boneless, skinless chicken breasts have you bored, poaching them will give you a better result, where the meat is just done instead of being overcooked and dry. From there, you can use it in a wide variety of recipes that are put together quickly. The fact that the chicken is just done, gives you a little more cooking time in your recipe without overcooking it, but you really just need a recipe where it is heated through (if it’s been refrigerated) or heated enough to absorb your recipe’s flavors. Here’s a useful list of recipes that call for shredded chicken, and you don’t even need to read them all to get your own ideas. Of course you can cube the meat for a nice chicken salad in the summer, but I like to shred or pull the meat and use it with barbecue sauce for sandwiches, in enchiladas or tacos, or with pasta dishes.
Poached Chicken Breasts
2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (if cooking on the bone, you might need more cooking time)
Aromatics: salt, peppercorns, garlic, bay leaf, yellow onion (with skins), herbs that won’t conflict with your recipe
water to cover by an inch
The process couldn’t be simpler:
- Place the breasts in a single layer in bottom of pot—my 3 quart pot held three comfortably
- Add salt and aromatics of your choice or just salt and pepper
- Cover with water by an inch—my 3 quart pot took about 5 cups of water to cover
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat—I put a lid on askew to hasten the boiling point
- Cover and reduce heat to simmer; simmer for 10-15 minutes; a thermometer inserted in a breast should register about 165° F
- Remove meat to cutting board to cool
I shredded my chicken, but you could store in refrigerator and decide what to do with the chicken later.
I used my chicken in a pasta dish with spinach, bacon, Parmesan cheese, and pasta. I sauteed spinach, garlic, and the pulled chicken in olive oil and a little of the bacon fat, just until the spinach was wilted and the chicken heated through. I cooked the pasta in the poaching liquid and used a little of the liquid, mixed with a little cornstarch, in putting together the final dish.