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Related Ingredients

Tasting Notes

Simpler than roast chicken and much healthier than fried, it's a wonder that poaching isn't a more popular cooking method for this beloved bird.

Gently poached chicken results in a supremely delicate texture. Even if you’re a poaching novice, there isn’t much danger of overcooking your chicken with this technique. As you’re preparing the poaching liquid, consider your aromatics and experiment with whatever you have on hand. In Michael’s version, we get depth of flavor and spice from star anise, cinnamon sticks, thyme, peppercorns, garlic and ginger. A dry white wine lends an acidic note.

Tips & Techniques

  1. Think big. This is a great item to make in a large batch. Poach a few extra chicken breasts and save them for future preparations – you can use them in sandwiches, on salads or over pasta for a wide variety of meals.
  2. Take its temperature. The only way to tell when the chicken is properly done is to use a meat thermometer. The liquid should be about 160°F and the inside of the breast should reach 155°F.
  3. Go easy on seasoning. The poaching liquid should be heavily seasoned, but the chicken itself might not need to be salted at all.


These tools are the ones we find especially helpful when making this dish.

  1. Pot. It’s important to use the right sized pot, so that the chicken breasts are completely submerged by the broth.

The list below includes all the equipment you’ll want to make this dish.

  • Large straight sided sauté pan
  • Pot
  • Tweezers or tongs
  • Plate
  • Cutting board with paper towel
  • Knife
  • Small baking sheet with rack
  • Thermometer


For the Poached Chicken:

  • 2 cups white wine, acidic or aromatic, not overly oaked such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 4 cups (1 quart) low-sodium chicken stock or housemade chicken stock (recipe below)
  • 3 star anise
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger (1-inch piece), peeled and sliced thinly
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 skin-on, boneless chicken breasts (or boneless, skinless breasts, if you prefer)


For the Homemade Chicken Stock: 

  • Bones from 1 whole chicken (or 1 lb of chicken backs and 1 lb chicken wings, purchased at the butcher)
  • 4 quarts (16 cups) water
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 large white onion
  • 4 ribs celery
  • 1 head garlic
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • ¼ cup salt

Serves: 4

Total Time: 40 minutes*

Active Time: 20 Minutes


* Note: This timing is for people who are NOT making their own stock – since that takes over 2 hours



For the Poached Chicken:

  1. Heat oven to 300°F.
  2. Place all ingredients except chicken in a large, straight-sided, oven-safe sauté pan with a lid. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to open up and blend.
  3. Remove from heat, add chicken skin-side up, place lid on pan and place in oven for 15-18 minutes. (Note: If you are using skinless breasts, cut a circle of parchment paper to fit inside your pan and put it on top of the broth, under the lid. This will ensure that the chicken won’t dry out.) The chicken is done when a meat thermometer inserted into a breast registers at 155°F.
  4. Remove pan from the oven and place on a heat safe surface. If serving right away, hold the chicken in the warm broth until ready to serve. Otherwise, cool the chicken in the broth. (Note: The extra poaching liquid will be used for making the risotto. Either reserve with chicken in the pot and store in refrigerator if you do not plan to make the risotto for over 3 hours.)

For the Homemade Chicken Stock: 

  1. Rinse the chicken bones well under cold water. Peel the carrots. Cut the carrots, onion and celery into 1-inch pieces. Cut the head of garlic in half crosswise.
  2. Cook the chicken bones over medium high heat in a large pot until they are golden brown on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. The more color you get on your bones, the richer and deeper your stock will be. Place all of the remaining ingredients in the pot. Make sure that the bones are covered with water by 2 – 4 inches, adding additional water if necessary.
  3. Heat to a boil over high heat and reduce to a slow simmer. Simmer gently for 2 hours. Strain through cheesecloth and cool.

Here is a great way to turn this dish into a meal

Butter lettuce cobb salad with wine-poached chicken

Got left-over chicken?  For a refreshing meal, take a cobb salad with butter lettuce, crispy bacon, avocado, scallions and a red wine vinaigrette.  Top with the sliced chicken.