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Home cooks that like to plan meals that are low-fat, low-calorie, and healthy in many other ways, agree that poaching is one of the best cooking methods. Poaching is a culinary technique in which you use moist heat, rather than fat, to cook your food. Unlike simmering and boiling, both of which are also moist-heat cooking methods, when you're poaching eggs, chicken, salmon, and other foods, it's on a stovetop over medium heat to medium-high heat. The temperature range is from about 160-degrees…

F to 180-degrees F., But you don't need to stop everything mid-recipe to check the temperature of the liquid. It's easy enough to read by eye when there is some bubbling or quivering just below the surface of the liquid.

Simmering and boiling, on the other hand, are cooking techniques in which food is cooked in water at a very high temperature. It's better to poach delicate foods, like fish, eggs, and poultry because they're more likely to break down, fall apart in, or even dry out when cooked under harsher cooking conditions, like high heat, boiling water, or under a direct flame.

Poaching Techniques

Cooking foods in a shallow pot is called "shallow poaching." Your food cooks from the heat conducted between the pan and liquid. This method of cooking is best for when you're making a single serving, or for tender or thinly sliced meat, chicken, fish, and vegetables.

Poached Salmon

Here is how to make poached salmon using this method. Sprinkle the fillet with a little salt and then place the fillet in a shallow sauté pan. Then add liquid. You can use 2 cups of water, or 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup dry white wine. There should be enough liquid to cover the bottom of the pan thoroughly. Place the pan on the stovetop on medium-high heat and let the water heat up to a gentle simmer, then lower the flame to medium heat and put a secure cover over the pan. You can tell salmon is cooked when it turns from bright pink to opaque. Total cook time for poached salmon is about 5 minutes.

Since cooked salmon can easily crumble, remove the fillet from the liquid using a slotted spoon. If you're making a salmon recipe for the whole family, you can use a deeper pot so you can cook several fillets at one time. Once transferred to a tray or serving dish, squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the fillet and season with kosher salt and ground black pepper, or some fresh herbs, like dill and parsley.

Deep poaching is when the food is fully submerged in liquid during the cooking process. The pot used for this method should also be deep enough to hold the food, hold enough liquid to keep the food fully submerged, plus there should be enough space left in the cooking vessel, so the liquid has plenty of room to expand.

Poaching Ingredients

One distinct feature of poaching is that the food is cooked in liquid, not fat. So if you're making Italian-style breaded chicken parmesan, the chicken is cooked in hot olive oil. But when you're making American-style poached chicken, you're going to cook the poultry in water or chicken broth. Other types of liquid commonly used when poaching are milk, soup stock (like beef, chicken, pork, or vegetable), red wine or white wine.

Poached Eggs

To make poached eggs, you can use a liquid base consisting of water and vinegar. Fish can be cooked in white wine. Different types of poultry can be poached in vegetable or chicken broth. And when you're making a poached fruit recipe, you can use a red wine liquid. The flavorful cooking liquid left over from shallow poaching can be reduced and then used as a sauce or gravy.

Here is how to make perfect poached eggs for your Sunday eggs Benedict brunch recipe. While you're waiting for a pot of water come to a slow, simmering roll, crack an egg into a bowl and add a drop of vinegar. Just before you pour the cracked egg into the simmering water, take a spoon and swirl it in the water clockwise to make a whirlpool at a slow, deliberate pace for about three to five rotations.

The purpose of the whirlpool is to guide the egg white to wrap around the yolk. So this step is optional. Slowly pour the raw egg into the middle of the pot in the simmering water. Once the white part of the egg forms a rubbery-looking solid, after about 3 or 4 minutes, remove it with a slotted spoon. You can make additional poached egg servings, but be sure to give the water enough time to reheat to the proper temperature. Finalize the recipe by placing a slice of ham on a toasted English muffin, topped with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce.

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