A Perfectly Juicy Chicken Breast

Chicken breast has kind of a bad rap these days for its tendency to turn dry, stringy, and utterly uninteresting when overcooked. Fortunately, we know that water can be a much gentler cooking medium than oil, and we can use this to our advantage. This basic technique of poaching (a.k.a. cooking in hot water) yields perfectly tender, juicy chicken breast every time. And because chicken is such a great “blank canvas” when cooked this way, you can then use it for any number of things, from sandwiches to salads to shredding over rice or topping noodle soups.

Tools Needed:

  • medium pot with lid
  • tongs (optional)

Ingredients Needed:

  • chicken breast 1 pound
  • salt 2 teaspoons

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  • I made a simple chicken Caesar salad. The chicken was juicy and tasted great with the lemon vinaigrette. I wouldn’t change a thing—it was much faster than dealing with my Breville grill.

  • So this is actually medallions of pan-seared adobo alligator, and most of it was eaten by guests before I got out my camera, but I rarely cook meat and it’s the closest to poached chicken breast I got this week.

    Guests liked the alligator steak better than the alligator andouille.

    Next time I’ll make poached chicken, but I can’t make any promises about which cut I’ll use.

  • I poached SO MUCH chicken in water while making this mission, so I decided to switch it up a bit. This time I used soy sauce instead of salt and added pu erh tea leaves to the pot. It was actually quite good! Next time I’ll add some star anise to round out the flavor. I spooned the poaching liquid over the chicken right before packing up my lunch. It should make the rice underneath very flavorful and delicious :) The sides are just blanched asparagus and snow peas. They blanched while the chicken was sitting off the heat. 2 days worth of lunch ready in 20 minutes!

  • I don’t usually like chicken, because it ends up drying out, but I was surprised and very pleased with this! It looked so good that I nearly forgot to take a picture of it, and I ended up eating it by itself. Mmmm.

  • Before we seasoned our chicken, Joel thought it looked like mozzarella cheese because it has such a nice pale white color. We dressed up our chicken with an olive oil and spice mix (basil, parsley, lemon pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and a blood orange olive oil). The chicken was as juicy as advertised and went excellently with our kale salad (recipe from one of the past missions!). This cooking technique is great for meals where you want to focus on doing something else while your chicken takes care of cooking itself. Despite the instructions, I didn’t watch the boiling pot (come on, “a watched pot never boils”) and it came out delightfully. Honestly I think next time I’ll let the rolling boil last a bit longer before I put a lid on my bird, since the temperature only reached 155 F, and I like to cook my chicken to at least 160 F (my water cooled down quickly when I removed the lid, so putting it back in the water didn’t raise the temperature any — this effect might be due to the fact that we live in a very dry climate and at altitude, which always throws off cooking time). Overall, great versatile approach to cooking chicken.