Oh my goodness, oh my goodness! I feel as if I have struck gold. Yesterday in culinary school, Chef taught us how to poach the perfect chicken and then create some wonderful dishes to follow. You have got to try my sweet, savory, and crunchy chicken salad.
Culinary school is one of the best investments I have ever made. I am learning so much every day and I cannot wait to see how much my skills have advanced in the next 6 months. Chef taught us how to poach chicken while giving it the best possible flavor.
Le Pocher (to poach) means to cook a product in a large amount of liquid, which can be either hot or cold. The goal in poaching is to tenderize a tough piece of meat, impart flavor, or to hydrate an ingredient that needs liquid for cooking such as rice or pasta. In yesterday’s case, our goal was to tenderize the chicken while imparting flavor as well.
The beautiful thing about poaching is that you can flavor the poaching liquid however you’d like. It’s as if you are creating your own stock. The recipe Chef used (which was amazing) called for: water, white wine, shallots, celery, onions, lemongrass, and a sacher bag filled with garlic, thyme, black peppercorns, bay leaf, and juniper berries. The lemongrass, which is most commonly used in poaching and Asian cuisines, gave the liquid a lovely, lemony taste and smell.
I kind of used whatever I had on hand in my kitchen for my poaching liquid. My ingredients included: water, white wine, chicken stock, carrot, celery, onion, bay leaf, salt and black peppercorns. Once I got the liquid to a roaring boil, I added 6 medium-sized boneless, skinless chicken breast to the pot. I covered the pot with a lid and let the chicken simmer rapidly in the flavored liquid for about 40 minutes. While the chicken was poaching away, I began chopping and assembling my ingredients for the chicken salad. The recipe calls for:
3 celery stalks, thinly diced
1 small yellow onion, thinly diced
1 large granny smith apple, peeled and thinly diced
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
Juice of a lemon
1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, hacher (roughly chopped)
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste
Combine the first 7 ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside. Once the chicken breasts have finished poaching, set aside and allow to cool. You may discard the liquid or reserve as a broth for later. Next up is the aioli, which is a garlic mayonnaise. Last week, I wrote a post about making homemade mayonnaise, and this is very similar. For the aioli you will need 2 egg yolks, 3 tsp dijon mustard, 4 cloves garlic (minced and then made into a paste), 3 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 cup olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Follow the same instructions as you would for making mayonnaise. The key is *fast whip, slow drip* when pouring the vegetable oil.
I intended on making my own aioli, but unfortunately, ran out of olive oil. So I combined 1/2 cup reduced fat mayo, 3 tsp dijon mustard, 3 tsp apple cider vinegar, garlic, and salt and pepper. Dice the chicken breast into thicker pieces than the vegetables. Combine everything in the bowl, including the garlic mayo, and mix well. I topped mine over a bed of arugula with grape tomatoes.
Who said healthy isn’t satisfying? Bon Appetit!