Think chicken breasts are boring? For many years I shared your view. Chicken breasts are tough, tasteless and usually a pain to cook in a pan because of their thickness. They’re also amazing diet food with virtually no fat and lots of protein. I’ve been using chicken breasts as part of my diet for the past three months in salads, light meals and just for snacking.
One reason I used to hate chicken breasts is that they’re a total pain to cook. If you bake them in the oven, they always come out tough and dry. I don’t even have an oven at my current condo, so I’ve been forced to improvise, which resulted in me learning how to poach chicken breasts. Wow!Talk about a big difference in taste. Poaching chicken breasts results in them being much softer, having less of a burned, dry feeling and just tasting much better in general. It’s also much better from a diet perspective than pan frying or grilling them with cooking oil.
Today, I’m going to share my simple poached chicken breast method. This is designed for two chicken breasts, each cut in half and poached in a small or medium sized pan.
- Two chicken breasts, both with the skin removed
- Some table salt and black pepper
- One bay leaf
- Chicken stock
Start by cutting the chicken breasts in half down the middle. The goal is to make them thinner, which lets you poach them without using as much water. If you have a small frying pan like me, poaching the whole breast just isn’t possible because it comes over the rim of the pan.
After I cut the chicken breasts, I tenderize them (probably not necessary, but why not?) and make sure they’re all mostly the same thickness. Now, place them in your pan and cover them with water so that there’s about a quarter of an inch of water above them. Add a little bit of table salt (1-2 pinches) and grind a little bit of pepper into the water.
Bring the water to a slow boil and add the bay leaf and chicken stock. At this point, you’re basically lightly boiling the chicken breasts in a sort of chicken soup. This gives them amazing taste and avoids the rubbery feeling you get when you just boil chicken breasts in water at a heavy boil. I poach the chicken breasts for about 6 to 8 minutes and then remove them and check that they’re cooked by cutting into them since I don’t have a meat thermometer, but if you have a meat thermometer you can just wait until they reach 165°F in the center.
Slice them into pieces and add them to your salad, or smother in BBQ sauce and pretend you’re no longer on a diet! You can also shred them and use them for tacos or as a simple, high-protein snack. These chicken breasts are easy to cook, versatile and ideal for storing in a plastic container for a healthy lunch on the go. I bring them to my coworking space with me and store them in the fridge to eat for lunch, so I’m not tempted by oily street food. Bon apetit!