March once a month cooking plan calls for cooked, shredded chicken. I like to have a bag of cooked chicken in my freezer, but I don't have any on hand. I also don't have any whole chickens around, which would be the cheaper alternative. What I do have are boneless, skinless chicken breasts and these are easily cooked by poaching them.
I ran across directions for poaching chicken a few years ago. I had never heard of poaching anything but eggs before that! For the past few years I've been poaching my chicken using those directions, but it is rather bland and tasteless. Last month I ran across another recipe for poached chicken in the January/February issue of Everyday Cooking.that is just delicious. I can't believe I didn't think to cook it like this before!
1/2 medium onion, halved
1 medium carrot, cut into thirds
1 celery stalk, cut into thirds
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lemon sliced, optional
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Thyme or parsley
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 8 ounces each)
In a large, straight sided skillet or pot, combine all ingredients except chicken. Cover with water by 1/2 inch and bring to a boil over high. Add chicken. Bring back to a boil and cook for 3 minutes. Cover pot and remove from heat. Let stand until chicken is cooked through, 15-18 minutes, turning chicken once. Remove chicken from liquid immediately.
If you then strain the liquid, you will have some delicious broth to throw into the freezer!
You can then shred, dice or leave the chicken whole and freeze to use later.