Skip the cooking tutorial, print the recipe, and get cooking: Herb Poached Chicken with Cherry Tomatoes
Ever poached anything besides eggs? Even if you haven’t poached eggs, which is delicious and makes them creamy and delicate, poaching is an underrated cooking method. It gets no love.
Poaching is actually very easy and fool-proof, my favorite way to cook. At its heart, here’s the poaching equation:
liquid+something to cook=poaching
Of course variations exist for everything.
What kind of liquid? Water, chicken or vegetable broth, wine, dessert wine. With herbs? With vegetables like beets to add color?
What are ya cooking? Eggs, chicken, pears, fish…. You get the idea.
Today we’re making an easy herb-poached chicken with a sweet and piquant taste. This method of poaching will make your chicken absolutely, flawlessly moist and flavorful, but here’s the caveat. You have to follow directions to a tee. I know this is hard (look who’s talking), following a recipe word for word makes me feel like I’m in a straight jacket sometimes. However, due to some awful baking disasters recently, I’ve learned that directions have a purpose, especially in something where the method guarantees delight.
OK, I exaggerate, you don’t have to follow every single direction for ingredients, but THE METHOD of poaching including timing and taking it off heat MUST maintain its purity. I repeat. Follow the method like your life depended on it, but you can improvise with ingredients. (In my personal opinion, though no one asked, the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes, piquancy of the olives, and extra healthiness of the kale are a very tasy and colorful combo).
Start with your poaching liquid. I have 2 cups of water and 2 cups of chicken broth. I’m going to have so much herb-flavor going on that I wanted a diluted chicken broth. Here’s the list of herbs: 2 bay leaves, 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, 3 sprigs of fresh oregano, and 10-12 fresh basil leaves. Oh yeah, plus 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. If you are flavor-phobic, just halve the fresh herbs; it’ll still give the chicken a subtle herb taste, just not as robust.
Don’t be intimidated by the amount of herbs here. Or for that matter your hands smelling like an herb garden. This is goodness.
Liquid- check. Now place 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the poaching liquid.
Warning: this is the part where you HAVE to follow directions.
Bring the pot up to a boil. Cover it. Bring down the heat so the liquid has a nice simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. TURN OFF THE HEAT, and let the chicken sit, covered, in its poaching liquid for 15 minutes. After you’re done, take the chicken out. Don’t keep it cooking in the pot otherwise it’ll get dry and over cooked. Make sure you use your microwave or oven timers to remind you about this process.
OK, that’s the end of the mandatory method. Let’s get to work on the topping for this chicken.
Start with prepping the kale. I have 1 bunch of dinosaur kale. I love how the grooves on the leaves look like dinosaur scales.
We’ll need to remove the woody stems. Fold the leaves in half.
Then carefully, slide your knife along the stem to cut it out.
When you open the kale back up, it’ll look like it has legs.
Once you have all the kale trimmed of the woody stems, rough chop it.
Next. Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the cherry tomatoes. Cook for about 3 minutes. You’ll see the skin start to crack open like a flower bursting on some tomatoes. Others will begin to gush their sweet, red juices.
Sprinkle the kale on top. Now add in about 1/2 cup of dry white wine.
Don’t forget to pour yourself a glass. Cooking is tough stuff. If you don’t cook with alcohol, use chicken broth or, worst case scenario, water.
Cook this about 5 minutes until the kale starts to wilt and look like it’s hugging the cherry tomatoes.
Now add 1/2 cup of mixed flavorful olives. I like kalamata and pimiento-stuffed green olives.
Have I told you that I now have 3 jars of kalamata olives in my cupboard? Just gotta make sure we’ll never run out of them.
Cook the olives, kale, and cherry tomatoes another 3-5 minutes. Make sure some cherry tomatoes have maintained their shape- oh Lord, when you bite into them, warm sweetness will explode on your tongue.
Once you’re ready to serve, cut up the herb-poached chicken in slices, then top with the Cherry tomatoes, kale, and olive mixture.
I promise, your taste buds will dance in delight.