Looking for a delicious, easy and fat-free way to prepare chicken breasts? Poaching is the answer. Cooking chicken breasts gently in a flavorful broth makes them moist and tender. Add them to salads, sandwiches, soups, tacos and more -- with their mild flavor, they're endlessly adaptable.
Basic poached chicken
You can flavor the poaching liquid with whatever aromatics you have on hand -- this recipe is just a guideline. Try fresh ginger and soy sauce or orange and rosemary.
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1/2 medium yellow onion, halved
1 medium carrot, cut into thirds
1 celery stalk, cut into thirds
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 lemon, sliced (optional)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 sprigs thyme or parsley
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 8 ounces each)
In a large, straight-sided skillet or pot, combine all ingredients except chicken; cover with water by 1/2 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add chicken and return to a boil. Cook 3 minutes, then cover skillet and remove from heat. Let stand until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes to 18 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove chicken from poaching liquid immediately.
Nutritional information per serving: 243 calories, 5 grams fat, 0 grams carbohydrates, 46 grams protein, 0 grams fiber and 19 percent of calories from fat.
Chicken salad with scallions and yogurt
Makes 3 cups
In a large bowl, stir together 1/4 cup each finely chopped celery and scallions, 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt and 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in 2 poached chicken breast halves (see above), cooled and torn. Season with salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice. Serve over greens or in a sandwich.
Nutritional information per 1/2 cup: 118 calories, 3 grams fat, 2 grams carbohydrates, 21 grams protein, trace of fiber and 23 percent of calories from fat.
Chicken, green bean and cucumber salad
In a large bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon each finely chopped fresh parsley and basil, and 1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped. Boil 4 ounces green beans, trimmed, in salted water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Rinse with cold water; drain and add to bowl along with 1 poached chicken breast half (see above), cooled and torn, 1 small cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced, and 2 tablespoons chopped toasted almonds. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
Nutritional information per serving: 134 calories, 7 grams fat, 4 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams protein, 2 grams fiber and 47 percent of calories from fat.
Simple chicken ideas
Thinly slice poached chicken across the grain and use it instead of deli turkey in sandwiches -- just add your favorite toppings. Or shred and mix with low-calorie salad ingredients.
Hummus and carrots: Spread hummus on rustic country bread. Top with arugula, sliced poached chicken and shredded carrots.
Zucchini and pesto: Layer pesto, sliced poached chicken and zucchini ribbons (shaved with a vegetable peeler) on dark rye bread.
Avocado and Parmesan: Mash avocado with fresh lemon juice and salt to taste. Spread on white bread and top with sliced poached chicken and shaved Parmesan.
The classic: Spread mayonnaise on whole-wheat bread. Top with lettuce, tomato slices and sliced poached chicken.
Everyday Food magazine offers quick, healthy solutions for everyday meals -- from the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living.