Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Poached Chicken Redux

This isn't so much a Do Over, as I thought this went well the first time, but I definitely learned something last night.

Due to some household stuff last night, I decided to put off the low(er)-fat Indian Spinach Experiment until tonight. In the interest of putting together something simple, I decided to poach some chicken to toss with some Trader Joe's Potato Parmesan Gnocchi.

I was dealing with the insanely thick (and inconsistent) Jewel chicken breasts and I wanted to avoid the underdone ones I had last time. I used the flat side of the meat mallet to get a uniform thickness of about 3/4 inches. Yet, all of them came out underdone. Fortunately, I checked them before I shredded them. I hadn't tossed the water yet and was able to reheat it to a boil to finish them. But they suffered for it a little. The breasts were not as tender and smooth as before.

Here's an excerpt from that recipe, specifically regarding the chicken:

1. Place the chicken, oil and the juice of one of the lemons in a bowl; cover. Set aside to marinate at least 1 hour.
2. Heat salted water to a boil in a large skillet; add the chicken breasts with the marinade. Lower heat to a simmer; poach chicken until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain the chicken; transfer to plate.

So, that part about lowering the heat to a simmer is apparently very important. I turned the flame to Low, but I'm pretty sure there wasn't a real simmer going.

I'm also thinking that the marinade is a factor. For time, I skipped that. Given the underdone-ness and the slightly off texture, I'm guessing two things are at work: 1) I understand that an acid marinade actually cooks the meat a bit. So by skipping the marinade, I may have accidently reduced the cooking time. 2) I lost the tenderizing aspect of the marinade as well.

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