Andrew Zimmern's Easy Method For Tender Poached Chicken

If you love making chicken at home, then you already know that this versatile protein — which also happens to be one of Americans' favorites, to the tune of an average yearly intake of 97 pounds per person per year — takes well to a variety of cooking methods (via National Chicken Council). Roasting a bird results in one of the most comforting dishes out there. Braising produces soft, tender meat, frying provides a crispy, oily indulgence, and grilling is another classic preparation that lends smokiness and irresistible grill marks to chicken.

You might notice that we didn't mention poached chicken, which is one of the least valued cooking methods for poultry. In a poll asking Tasting Table readers how they like to prepare chicken, poaching came in dead last, with only 2% of respondents in favor of this technique. Poaching, which means slow cooking an ingredient in gently simmering liquid (via MasterClass), can get a bad rap as being diet food since typically fat is not used and the ingredient in question can turn out dry and tough, per Taste of Home. But if you've poached chicken with little success, you'll want to check out an interesting take on poaching utilized by chef and food show host Andrew Zimmern.

Start a whole bird in a boiling pot of liquid, then turn it off

Poached chicken — or fish, for that matter — doesn't have the best reputation. During the low-fat diet craze of the late 1990s, poaching was relied upon perhaps a bit too fervently in order to cook proteins without having to add any fat to the dish, according to The Washington Post. And unfortunately, when not done correctly — typically, when cooking chicken at a rapid boil instead of a slow simmer — chicken can turn out chewy and bone-dry, per Bon Appétit. Poaching is all about gentle heat, and if there's one man that understands this, it's Zimmern.

The chef and former host of Travel Channel's "Bizarre Foods" shared a recipe for chicken and wonton soup on Rachael Ray's website, and his approach to poaching is an intriguing one. Zimmern recommends bringing a large pot of chicken stock to boil, then adding a whole washed and dried chicken. After lowering the heat to a simmer for a total of 90 seconds, Zimmern counsels turning the heat off and allowing the chicken to gently cook through in the covered pot over the course of 90 minutes. 

In the recipe, Zimmern notes that the method produces "meltingly tender" white meat, the part of a chicken that tends to suffer the most from dryness. So whether you're making soup or just want some moist, succulent poached chicken on hand, you might want to give Zimmern's approach a spin.