Poached Chicken or Turkey Breasts

If you are catering for a smaller group a whole turkey appears to go on forever after Christmas. We could not get turkey breasts when we did our photographs so we substituted with bone in, skin on large chicken breasts. The result was outstanding. So the choice is yours, chicken or turkey. Do not be tempted to skip the brining stage – that is the secret to succulence.

YOU WILL NEED

Brine

  • 4 cups (1 litre) water
  • 1 lemon cut into ¼’s
  • ⅓ cup (80 ml) coarse salt
  • ½ cup (125 ml) brown sugar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 cm piece of fresh ginger, unpeeled and sliced
  • a handful of thyme
  • 2 t (10 ml) black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 cup ice blocks

Breasts

  • 4 bone in, skin on chicken breasts or 2 kg turkey breast fillets, skin on
  • 2 T (30 ml) canola oil
  • 1 T (15 ml) butter
  • 3 cups (375 ml) hot water
  • 1 x 25 g Ina Paarman’s Liquid Chicken Stock
  • 4 leeks, sliced with green tops
  • handful of fresh thyme
  • 1 T (15 ml) lemon zest
  • 1 t (5 ml) black peppercorns

Gravy

  • 2 ½ T (37 g) butter
  • 2 T (30 ml) flour
  • poaching liquid
  • 1 x 200 ml Ina Paarman’s Roast Chicken Gravy
  • water to thin gravy down if necessary
  • squeeze of lemon juice

Garnish

  • lemon zest
  • bay leaves
  • fresh thyme
Method
To prepare the brine

In a saucepan bring the water to the boil. Squeeze the juice from the lemon quarters into the brine and add squeezed out quarters. Add the remaining ingredients as listed but not the ice. Boil for 3 minutes to extract the flavour from herbs and spices. Leave to cool. Pour into a large plastic zip-lock bag.

Add ice.

Put the breasts into the brine and zip-up the bag. No need to refrigerate if you don’t have the space.

Leave in a cool spot overnight, or for 12 hours.

Remove breasts from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the brine

 

Poaching breasts

Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add breasts to the pan, skin-side down. Pan-fry for 5 minutes or until golden, turn and cook for a further 5 minutes or until golden on the under side. Remove from the pan.

To the same pan add water, Chicken Stock, leeks, thyme, lemon zest and peppercorns and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and add the breasts, skin side up. Simmer covered for 30 minutes. Allow to stand away from the heat for 10 minutes. Remove breasts from the poaching liquid. Strain the poaching stock into a jug, discard the solids and add water to the stock to make up to 2 cups.

Melt the butter in the same pan until bubbling. Add the flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute or until golden. Slowly pour in the measured stock, stirring until smooth. Cook, stirring continuously, for a further 2 minutes until thickened. Add Ina’s Roast Chicken Gravy and a squeeze of lemon juice and taste for seasoning. When the breasts are cool enough to handle, fillet out the bone. Slice the breasts and serve with the gravy.

Garnish with lemon zest, bay leaves and thyme.

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