International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Poaching: Method and Recipes

Plate of eggs Benedict

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Poaching is a great way of cooking foods that cuts fat, enhances flavor and keeps delicate foods from turning tough. This simple cooking method involves slow simmering eggs, meat, poultry, fish, seafood or fruit in a flavorful liquid just long enough to cook it through.

Shallow and Deep Poaching

There are two main types of poaching: shallow poaching and deep poaching. With shallow poaching, you add enough liquid to cover the item to be poached by about two-thirds. And don't forget to cover the pan so that steam will cook the part of the item that isn't covered.

The item to be shallow-poached should generally be portion-sized or smaller to make sure it cooks through quickly. Shallow poaching is especially good for fish fillets and boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Sometimes the poaching liquid is cooked down to reduce it and then enriched with butter to make beurre blanc, a rich sauce used to coat the poached food.

With deep poaching, the food is completely immersed in barely simmering, well seasoned liquid. Use this method to poach eggs, fruits and even whole poultry.

The Poaching Liquid

The poaching liquid, known as a court bouillon, typically consists of three components: the base liquid, an acidic ingredient and flavorings.

Base Liquids

Liquids used for poaching include plain water, chicken stock and red or white wine. Any mixture of these three can be used as well.

Acid Ingredient

Adding an acidic ingredient to the poaching liquid helps the proteins in the poached food hold together. Acidity also enhances flavor. Lemon juice, lime juice, sour orange juice, red wine, white wine, vinegar and verjuice can all be used.

Flavorings

Flavorings are optional additions to your court bouillon, but they add a lot of flavor. Finely chop any vegetables to make sure they release all their flavor. Herbs and spices can usually be left whole. Try finely chopped onions, shallots, carrots and celery. And don't forget to season the poaching liquid with salt.

Poaching Recipes