Monday, February 25, 2013

Muffin Tin Stars

So, I tried something new this past weekend. I cooked chicken. Really. When I cook chicken, it's the crock pot doing the work, not me. I have cooked it in the past, but in general, I just don't. The real downside to that, for me, is that I have recipes I'd like to try that call for cooked chicken. In a cold pasta salad and a pinch, I've used canned that I rinsed and seasoned, but it just isn't the same. The problem is that I don't want to touch the chicken either, so I only buy these lovely individual vacuum packed fresh organic pieces. I discovered a method that I can just open the package and slip the meat into the pot and not have to touch it until it's cooked. That method is poaching. This is NOT the same as boiling, I have learned, which yields a dry, inedible piece of meat. Poaching, though, requires some amount of trust that the chicken will cook to a safe temperature, and that trust I have not yet acquired. Some day, I hope to, though.

Muffin Tin Stars
Grapes, Trader Joe's yogurt stars, cottage cheese w/ star sprinkles, poached chicken w/ sharp cheddar cheese and mayo, Trader Joe's roasted seaweed, and cucumber and orange bell pepper stars.

poached chicken
So, what method did I use to poach the chicken? I slipped the chicken breasts into a pot and poured on just enough broth to cover them. I added some pepper, parsley, and a bay leaf, then turned on the heat full blast to achieve a full boil. Then, I turned it down to simmer, which I let it do for 10 minutes. Finally, I covered the pot, turned off the heat, and let it sit for 15 minutes, after which I took at the chicken and diced it up for later. That was that. I still managed to over cook it just a wee bit, but I'm getting there, and most of it is just gaining that trust that the meat will be done and safe to consume. I've seen poaching methods that bring the broth or water to a boil, then turn off the heat with no simmer. That's a bit too bold for me just yet, though. I would like to just try to put some chicken breasts in the crock pot with broth and shred for later recipes. The crock pot still remains my one true confident when it comes to cooking chicken. I'm totally open for ideas on this subject, too, so please share!

This lunch was linked to this week's Muffin Tin Monday at Another Lunch! Be sure to visit them, and check out more fun muffin tin ideas.

In this lunch...