While the thought of poached chicken might not be as immediately appealing as a whole roasted bird or a crispy golden fried chicken breast, this method of cooking poultry certainly shouldn’t be written off. Done the right way, you can flavour the chicken with a whole host of different ingredients – herbs, spices, vegetables and fruit – and end up with a really tender piece of meat. I find that poached chicken is a great thing to have in the fridge, as it can add bulk and a serving of low fat protein to numerous dishes – sandwiches, salads, broth-based soups, stir-fried rice, quick chicken pie, noodles – the list really does go on. The fragrant stock meanwhile can be frozen and used at a later date. However, if you follow the recipe below, it’s well worth poaching the chicken first and then using the broth to cook the bulghur wheat for added flavour. It’s currently asparagus season in Europe, which is why I’ve included the vegetable here, but broad or edamame beans would also work well in the salad and bring with them their own health benefits.
Poached chicken and pomegranate salad
For the chicken:
1 lemon, cut in half
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 stick celery, roughly chopped
2 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
A few sprigs of thyme
A small bunch of parsley
10 white peppercorns
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp sugar
2 skinless white chicken breasts
For the salad:
150g bulgur wheat
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
4-6 asparagus spears, trimmed
75g tenderstem or regular broccoli, cut into florets
1 tbsp walnuts, toasted
100g feta cheese
salt and black pepper
Put the lemon, carrot, celery, shallots, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, white peppercorns and vinegar into a large saucepan, add a pinch of salt and sugar and fill the pan with cold water.
Bring the water to the boil, skim off any scum that rises to the surface and add the chicken breasts. Reduce the heat to a simmer and poach for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and leave the chicken to cool in the poaching liquor. Once cool, remove the chicken breasts and set aside. Strain the liquid and discard the solids.
Cook the bulger wheat according to the packet instructions, using the stock from the chicken instead of water as the cooking liquid.
Slice the pomegranate in half and suspend over a bowl lined with a sieve. Remove the pomegranate seeds, capturing the juice in the bowl below. Whisk the oil, balsamic vinegar and sugar into the pomegranate juice, seasoning to taste and adding more of each ingredient if you think it is needed.
Cook the asparagus spears and broccoli in boiling salted water until tender. Slice off the asparagus tips and finely chop the tougher stalks. Crumble the feta into pieces. Slice or shred the chicken into pieces.
Tip the cooled bulghur wheat into a serving bowl, add the asparagus tips and chopped stalks, the broccoli, pomegranate seeds, feta and the walnuts. Drizzle over the prepared dressing and mix really well. Arrange the chicken on top and serve.
Nutritional information for poached chicken breast in broth, per 140g:
Calories from fat: 45
Total fat: 5g
Saturated fat: 1g
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