August 28, 2014

Poached Chicken Salad with White Nectarines

Even though we are entering into Labor Day weekend, Summer stone fruit is still quite abundant and delicious. At the moment, we cannot seem to get our fill of sweet and juicy white nectarines. Since I am buying 8-12 at a time, I am left with a few to play with for other things other than just gobbling them up. Adding nectarines, peaches, or plums to any late Summer salad would be great. They are fantastic paired with a variety of nuts and cheeses as well as meat and poultry as I have chosen to do with this recipe. Served on its own or over your favorite greens, this salad will make a healthy, flavorful, and satisfying lunch or light dinner to serve during those hot days of the Indian Summer.

You can cheat a little and prepare this dish with a store bought rotisserie chicken, but it will not have the subtlety of flavor as well as the moist texture achieved by poaching it yourself. It is not difficult or even time consuming to poach chicken breasts so do not allow yourself to consider the fear of too much work or too much of a challenge. Its easy and relatively quick to do. I promise. Poached chicken is also quite versatile for making other favorite salads such as a Chicken Waldorf by combining it with apples, celery, and walnuts or Curried Chicken by mixing it with curry powder, celery, raisins, apples, and coconut. Essentially all great chicken salads share a similar base of poached chicken and a mayonnaise or yogurt dressing combined with a variety of seasonings, crunchy vegetables, fresh or dried fruits, and nuts. Once you have mastered the basic skill of preparing the chicken, you can create your own.

Poached Chicken Salad with White Nectarines

Serves 6

For all ingredients, please consider using those that have been grown organically.

about 5-7 cups purified water
1 onion, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2-3 stalks celery, sliced
1/3 cup white wine
10-12 black peppercorns
1 tablespoon sea salt
about 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
4-5 stalks celery, halved lengthwise and sliced
4 white nectarines, yellow nectarines or even peaches will work great
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used 2% Fage)
2-3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh mint, chiffonade
  sea salt
generous grinding freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted
12-16 ounces greens such as arugula, mixed baby greens, or watercress

Prepare the poaching liquid and poach the chicken.

Fill water about half way to the top of a large (about 12 inches) straight sided saute pan.

Set the pan over medium-high heat and add the onion, carrots, celery, wine, peppercorns, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and allow ingredients to cook for 10-20 minutes. The longer it simmers, the more flavorful it will be for the poaching.

The bouillon should already be simmering on low heat. If it is not, please make sure that it is before you cook the chicken.

Gently lay the chicken breasts into the simmering liquid. They should not be completely covered with the poaching liquid. You may use a large spoon to baste the tops of the breasts if desired.

Allow the chicken to simmer in the poaching liquid for about 15 minutes. The poaching time will depend on the size of the breasts. If you are in doubt about them being cooked, cut each breast in half. You will be cutting them up anyway so it will not ruin your finished product.

Remove the chicken from the poaching liquid and allow to cool completely covered in the refrigerator.


Prepare the salad.

Cut the prepared chicken breasts into 1/2 inch chunks and put them into a large bowl.

Add the celery and nectarines and gently toss together.

Add the yogurt, 2 tablespoons of white balsamic, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and fresh herbs along with a light seasoning of salt and pepper and mix together being careful not to bruise the nectarines. Taste for flavor and add more vinegar, oil, yogurt, or seasoning as needed.

At this point, the salad can be refrigerated for up to 6 hours before serving. I would not recommend preparing this dish more than 6 hours ahead of time.

Just before serving, toss in the toasted almonds.

Serve on a bed of your favorite greens on individual plates or a large platter.

This salad will hold in the refrigerator for a day of leftovers. The chicken will hold quite well, but the nuts will no longer hold their crunch and the fruit will get soft.


Categories: Fruits, Gluten Free, Poultry, Salads, Spring & Summer

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