Whether it be for fish, chops or chicken, the technique of poaching is not a new concept. Poaching is merely simmering food in a liquid until it’s cooked through. This cooking method is not just for proteins either, as I use it to prepare everything from eggs to fruits and vegetables.
Although water is often used as the cooking medium, there are other choices depending on the foods. I use chicken broth to poach eggs in my breakfast soup, Marsala for poached pears and a combination of poaching ingredients for roasted cauliflower with whipped goat cheese.
Using a good quality, mild olive oil for poaching will not only result in chicken that is evenly cooked, moist and truly tender, but the poaching liquid is transformed into a luscious sauce.
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced
- 1 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (delicate)
- 2 chicken breasts (1 pound), boneless, skinless
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- In an oven-proof baking dish, pour in some of the olive oil (enough to cover the bottom).
- With a sharp knife, remove the stem end of the bulb, trim away any stems and fronds. Cut crosswise into thin slices. Add the sliced fennel on top of the oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Pat dry each breast, season with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Place the chicken on top of the fennel. Pour the remainder of olive oil on top of the chicken (they will not be completely immersed). Toss on the rosemary sprigs, cover tightly with foil. As a rule, foods that are poached are totally submerged in liquid, but by covering them and turning them over part way through cooking I use less oil.
- Cook in a 325* oven for 30 minutes.
- Carefully, turn chicken over, cook for an additional 10 minutes or until done. The time will vary depending on the size and thickness of the chicken breasts. (Using a meat thermometer, chicken should be 165*).
- When chicken is done, remove from pan, cover with foil to keep warm. Discard the rosemary sprigs. Let poaching liquid cool slightly.
- Using a blender, carefully pour in the oil and fennel, pulse until smooth.
- To serve, slice the chicken, arrange on plates, top with the sauce.
Store leftover sauce in the refrigerator. It is excellent on pasta! Simply, remove from refrigerator and let come to room temperature, (can also be reheated on low heat). Pour over hot pasta, top with grated Parmesan.