One of the most frequent requests e-mailed to the Kitchen Shrink is, “Where can I find your method for poaching chicken breasts so they will be moist?” I have been asked for that technique so often that I put it right up front in the “Head Starts” chapter of Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners where it will be easy to find. The dilemma with cooking chicken breasts is that it is essential to fully cook them to destroy salmonella in case it is present and there is a fine line between fully-cooked moist and over-cooked dry chicken. Here’s how to make my “Can’t Overcook ‘Em Chicken Breasts.”
Bring 3 cups Homemade Chicken Stock to a boil over high heat in a saucepan just large enough to hold 1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves in one layer; add the chicken breasts, making sure they are covered by the stock. Simmer them gently, uncovered, for 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, cover it, and let it stand for 10 minutes. Remove 1 chicken breast to a plate and cut into the center to make sure the breast is cooked through. If it is, remove the remaining breasts to the plate. If it is not, return it to the saucepan, cover the pan, and simmer it for 2 minutes more, then remove the chicken to a clean plate and set it aside to cool. Cool and refrigerate the stock for another use.