For the poached chicken
2# (3 large) boneless, skinless chicken breasts (organic if your budget allows)
½ yellow onion, quartered
2 large whole cloves of garlic
1 small carrot, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
For the chicken salad
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 teaspoon grain mustard
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme
2 Tablespoons fresh oregano
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup red onion, finely minced
2-6 ½ oz jars, (about 1 ½ cups), of marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
Makes 10 servings
Place chicken breasts and all poaching ingredients in a medium stock pot with enough water to cover the chicken by about 1-2 inches. Place over medium heat until just gently simmering. Keep your poaching liquid between 160°-180° to ensure that the chicken doesn’t poach too quickly and overcook. Once the liquid reaches the proper temperature, poach chicken for about 15-20 minutes or until the thickest part of the chicken reaches at least 150° and it is no longer pink in the center. *Tip: You can use a small slotted spoon to skim any of the white foam off the top of the poaching liquid. This poaching liquid can be strained and reserved to use later as a base in soups or sauces.
Remove chicken from poaching liquid and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. Once cooled, shred chicken and place in a large mixing bowl.
In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, mustard, lemon, fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Whisk to form a dressing. Add to the chicken.
Chop artichokes and Kalamata olives and add these to the chicken. Mix all ingredients and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Serve with crackers or as a sandwich. This salad is best served chilled for at least 1 hour to allow all the flavors to meld.
- Poaching meat takes a little practice, but once mastered, it's a good technique to have in your cooking arsenal, particularly if you are trying to cook more healthfully for you or your family or cooking for someone on a restricted diet. Aromatics such as fresh herbs, spices and vegetables, can help add subtle flavor to slowly simmered proteins. Poached chicken can be just as tender and flavorful as grilled or sauteed chicken. It can be made in advance to use throughout your weekly meal planning as a go-to protein, and it holds up well in simple salads and lunch or dinner bowl recipes.
- Depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts, poaching times may vary but a good rule of thumb is to also go by feel. As with steak, the firmness of the breast meat should feel like the soft pad of flesh on the palm of your hand just below your thumb. As the chicken rests it may rise a few degrees in temperature and also distribute the juices evenly back into the meat giving you tender and well cooked chicken. If you're short on time, you can do a simple poach of the chicken in plain water and adjust the final salad seasonings according to your taste.
- If you're watching your sodium, remember to review all recipe ingredients before you begin cooking, not just the actual salt quantities used, and substitute or omit ingredients. In this recipe, for example, the olives and marinated artichokes add saltiness to the salad so the amount of kosher salt has been reduced but can also be omitted.