For The Most Flavorful Poached Chicken, Simmer Your Aromatics First

There's a running joke that a switch to healthy eating is often marked by plain boiled chicken, bland brown rice, and broccoli as the go-to meal prep dish. While poached chicken doesn't share the same crisp, seasoned coating as fried chicken, it can still share the same flavorful taste. To get the most out of your poached chicken, simmer the aromatics beforehand.

Poaching is an underrated form of preparing poultry. Slowly heated in savory liquid, the chicken absorbs the taste of each ingredient, resulting in a juicy, tender piece of meat. To get that result, the process starts before you place the chicken breast in the pot. Poaching chicken breast isn't a lengthy process — within about 15 minutes, it should be done. However, it could take longer for the flavors of each aromatic to release and intermingle, so they should be boiled beforehand.

Almost like making a quick broth, your sprigs of rosemary and cloves of garlic need time to enhance the water, increasing the flavor imparted on your chicken. While succulent poached chicken is something that can be pulled together quickly, the longer you allow the aromatics to cook, the more flavor your chicken will have.

Here's when you should add your aromatics to water

No aromatic is created equally — while delicate fresh basil should be added at the tail end of cooking, ginger might take a little longer to release its fiery kick. Once you decide what you're cooking, you can choose aromatics and stagger when they're placed into boiling water. Twice-baked sweet potatoes pair best with chicken flavored with earthy, rich spices. Add black peppercorns to the water for around 10 minutes before adding the chicken breast. Rosemary can be added shortly after — 5 minutes is enough for it to taste potent without being overpowering.

Opt for a light and herbaceous chicken to complement the nutty taste of buttery hazelnut risotto. Boil a slice or two of lemon for around 15 minutes to give the poaching liquid a zesty flair. Five minutes in, fresh sprigs of thyme, bay leaves, and fresh oregano can be simmered in the tart water, grounding it with woodsy nuances.

If you're after something with a little heat to pair with cider-glazed root vegetables, opt for warming aromatics like ginger and coriander. Allow the coriander seeds and sliced ginger root to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Five minutes before you add the chicken, tear fresh mint leaves into the water to uplift the heady broth.