While Chris Kimball has a tendency to claim every one of his recipes is the best ever, I nevertheless wanted to investigate his latest claim that this recipe will render “perfect” poached chicken breasts. I remember he tried a something technique about 2 years ago (see here). The bottom-line is a little better than 2 years ago; the chicken is perfectly cooked and moist. His new technique use a vegetable steam to elevate the chicken from the hot pans bottom helps cook the chicken even more evenly. But my main complaint is the same as before. I care more about better flavor than perfect texture, and the lack of any carmalization whatsoever leaves a lackluster result. I paired the chicken with a delicious Cumin-Cilantro Yogurt Sauce; he also has a warm tomato-ginger vinaigrette; but leaving all the flavoring to the sauce makes this recipe just 3-1/2 stars. Still perfectly enjoyable, but coming up short.
I think that this recipe would be better if you quickly browned the chicken in a skillet before poaching. You can later use that same skillet to make your sauce, and use the sauteing of the shallot to build even more flavor.
Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time 5:00 PM. Ready at 6:15 PM.
Perfect Poached Chicken Breasts
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6- to 8-ounce each)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup salt
2 tablespoons sugar
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- Trim chicken breasts, cover with plastic wrap and use a meat pounder to gently pound the thick ends until measures 3/4″ thick.
- Add 4 quarts water to Dutch oven, adding 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup salt, 2 tablespoons sugar. Whisk until salt and sugar are dissolved. Peel and smash garlic and add to pot.
- Put steamer basket into Dutch oven, which will prevent the chicken from touching to hot bottom. Submerge chicken with skin-side up, arranging so as to not overlap the chicken. Allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Place Dutch oven over medium burner, occasionally stirring liquid to ensure even heating, for 15 to 20 minutes until the water measures 175-degrees. Remove your pot from burner, cover, and allow to sit for 18 to 22 minutes until the chicken registers 160-degrees.
- Allow chicken to rest of a cutting board for 5 minutes, covered tightly with aluminum foil.
- Meanwhile make your sauce according to the recipe below.
- After resting, slice chicken on bias into 1/4″-thick slices, set onto serving platter, cover with sauce, and serve.
Cumin-Cilantro Yogurt Sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon lime juice
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Mince shallot and garlic. Chop 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro.
- Place a small skillet over medium burner, and heat 1 tablespoon olive oil until it begins to shimmer.
- Saute shallot for 2 minutes, then add in minced garlic, cumin, and red pepper flakes and continue sauteing for 30 more seconds.
- Remove pan from heat and whisk in yogurt, water, lime juice, and another 1 tablespoon oil.
- Adjust salt and pepper according to your taste.
- Cover to keep warm until ready to serve, but stir in cilantro just prior to serving.