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Poach cooking definition, poaching food

Poach Cooking Definition

The definition of poaching food or to poach food is to cook a food by placing it in a pot of seasoned simmering liquid.
Poaching is a type of moist-heat cooking technique that involves cooking by submerging food in a liquid, such as water, milk, stock or wine.

This method of cooking usually requires less liquid than other methods such as boiling.
Poaching is often considered a healthy method of cooking because it does not use fat to cook or flavour the food.

What foods are best poached?

Poaching is best for very delicate foods, such as eggs, fish, chicken and fruit. Some vegetables may also be poached.

You can also use bone-in chicken breasts or even thighs or drumsticks, just make sure you remove the skin, which can make the liquid too greasy.

Sturdier vegetables such as asparagus spears, carrots, sweet potato and potatoes all work well with poaching.

Fruits with body, like stone fruit, pears, and apples, are prime choices for wine poaching with honey, peppercorns.

Delicate seafood of all kinds shine when poached. Cod, salmon, shrimp, all are excellent choices.

Poaching Food 3 Ways

There are three main types of poaching, these are shallow poaching, butter poaching and deep poaching.
Poaching can be done in any type of pan but it is recommended to use a large pan with a rounded bottom so that the liquid doesn’t boil over.

Remember, poaching uses gentle heat at 71 to 82ºC (160 to 180°F) to cook the food, even lower than a simmer .

  1. Shallow Poaching

    shallow poachingWith shallow poaching, you add enough liquid to cover the item to be poached by about two-thirds.
    And don’t forget to cover the pan so that steam will cook the part of the item that isn’t covered.

    The item to be shallow-poached should generally be portion-sized or smaller to make sure it cooks through quickly.
    Shallow poaching is especially good for fish fillets and boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

    Sometimes the poaching liquid is cooked down to reduce it and then enriched with butter to make beurre blanc, a rich sauce used to coat the poached food.

  2. Butter Poaching

    butter poachingAnother method, butter poaching, combines butter with the liquid.
    This tends to be used more for for cooking fish and seafood.

    The butter must first be emulsified by boiling it with the liquid (meaning the two are mixed together so they won’t separate).
    The result is called a beurre monte, which is then used for poaching at lower temperatures that, again, never break into a boil.

  3. Deep Poaching

    deep poachingWith deep poaching, the food is completely immersed in barely simmering, well seasoned liquid.
    The entire ingredient needs to be covered and sometimes requires a cover of parchment paper to keep it from bobbing above the liquid.
    Make sure you allow enough room in the pot for liquid to expand.

Poaching Temperature Range

Poaching requires a cooking temperature of 71–82°C (160–180°F).
It is differentiated from the other “moist heat” cooking methods, such as simmering 85 to 96ºC (185 to 205°F) and boiling, in that it uses a relatively low temperature.

This temperature range makes it particularly suitable for delicate food, such as eggs, poultry, fish and fruit, which might easily fall apart or dry out using other cooking methods.

Poaching Liquids

  • Water

    Water will most likely make up the bulk of your poaching liquid, but if you can, add something else for some subtle flavour.

  • Milk

    You can use milk or coconut milk to poach chicken or fish.

  • Stock

    Chicken stock, vegetable, or fish stock are all good choices, depending on what you poach, as long as you dilute them somewhat.

  • Broths

    Perfect for poaching, broths are just a lighter version of stock.

  • Wine

    Wine bourbon or port can be a beautiful way to poach fruit, and who wouldn’t appreciate a white wine poached halibut?

  • Court bouillon

    Fish and seafood are traditionally poached in a liquid called court bouillon.
    This consists of an acid (wine, lemon juice) and aromatics (bouquet garni and mirepoix).

Advantages of Poaching Food

There are several advantages to poaching foods.

  1. It preserves nutrients and flavours.
  2. Makes foods more digestible.
  3. Allows you to cook foods without burning them.
  4. Helps keep foods moist.
  5. Is an easy method to prepare foods.
  6. It is one of the healthiest cooking methods.
    As it does not require fats and it also preserves maximum nutrition in the food being poached..
  7. Retains the original flavour of the main ingredient, and are quick and easy to prepare.
  8. Poaching is a great way to cook seafood because it keeps the flavour and texture intact.

Disadvantages of Poaching Food

Poaching also has some disadvantages such as;

  1. It takes longer than other cooking methods.
  2. Until practised it can require a bit of skill, as the temperature and duration of cooking are very important.
    For example; It’s important not to overcook poached food because this will result in a tough texture which makes it difficult for chewing.
  3. Requires constant attention.
  4. Does not allow you to control the temperature of the water.
  5. Is not suitable for every type of food.
  6. Poaching is not recommended when using acidic ingredients such as tomatoes.
  7. Is not recommended with high fat foods.

Additional Poaching Food Tips

  1. Always cook gently.
    This will give the most tender results.
  2. Watch your poaching liquids
    It’s also important to keep an eye on the liquid and stir it occasionally as it can evaporate quickly.
  3. Arrange food in a single layer in the pot.
    This will ensure even cooking.
  4. Accompanying sauces.
    These can be made from the well flavoured simmering liquid.
  5. To tell when simmering liquid is ready.
    Look for tiny bubbles that begin to rise slowly to the surface, bursting occasionally.
  6. Add Aromatics
    Some cooks like to add aromatics such as onion, carrot, celery or garlic while others like adding herbs such as parsley or thyme while they cook
    These can be added to the poaching liquid to enhance the flavour of what you’re cooking.
  7. For perfect poached eggs;
    See here how to poach the perfect egg.

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