If you were looking for the Rodney Dangerfield of food, poached chicken breasts might top the list.
Next to a sexy little sauté, poaching sounds bland. Even though it doesn’t get the respect it deserves, poaching is a cooking technique home cooks should embrace.
Because there is no added fat, poaching is a calorie-free way to prepare meats, poultry and fish.
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To poach a chicken breast, submerge it in seasoned water and bring it to a boil, then simmer. The cooking liquid will impart a subtle flavor to the finished dish.
The Star’s Chinese Chicken and Cabbage Salad recipe calls for poaching boneless, skinless chicken breasts with aromatic garlic, ginger root and crushed pepper. The chopped chicken is tossed with a prepared coleslaw mix, colorful peppers and spinach leaves then mixed with a Chinese-inspired dressing. Topped with toasted almonds, this colorful, crunchy salad would be perfect to serve as lunch or take to a potluck supper.
■ Cooking tip: Smooth-skinned and dark green, fresh jalapenos range from hot to very hot. They can also irritate the skin, so you may want to use rubber gloves when handling them. Be sure not to touch eyes, lips or nose.
To toast almonds, spread nuts in a single layer and toast in a 350-degree oven about 10 minutes. Watch carefully so they don’t burn.
Makes 6 servings
1 to 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 cloves garlic, halved
2 slices fresh, peeled gingerroot, each about 1/4 -inch thick
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 cups cabbage coleslaw mix
1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
2 green onions, sliced
1 cup fresh spinach leaves, julienne sliced
Juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons sugar
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Place chicken, garlic, sliced ginger, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper in a saucepan. Add 1 cup water. Cover, heat to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. Drain and allow chicken to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, combine coleslaw mix, sliced red and yellow peppers, green onions, and spinach leaves in a salad bowl.
When chicken is cool enough to handle, cut into bite-size pieces and toss with coleslaw and vegetable mixture.
Whisk together lime juice, jalapeno pepper, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, minced ginger and sugar; drizzle over salad and toss to coat evenly. Garnish with toasted almonds.
Per serving: 162 calories (29 percent from fat), 5 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), 44 milligrams cholesterol, 9 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams protein, 252 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.
Recipes developed for The Star by professional home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss.
Food styling by JILL WENDHOLT SILVA/Photo by JIM BARCUS/The Star
Poaching the chicken in Chinese Chicken and Cabbage Salad avoids the need to add extra fat while cooking.