I thought it would be wise to finally approach the letter of the day (yesterday, actually) without delay, especially since my sanity may be in question after having produced THREE “R” posts after forgetting twice that I’d already posted one. *sigh*
The topic is going to be about the process of poaching. Poaching consists of cooking “delicate” foods in water with the addition of an acid and, often, aromatics. It’s interesting because until I began looking at this, I thought the only thing poached was an egg…an egg I won’t even eat on Eggs Benedict because I just don’t like eggs cooked any way but scrambled. So, I’m learning something, too.
So-called delicate foods are foods such as eggs, poultry, fish and fruit. Based on what I’m seeing, poaching is similar to braising in that the food is cooked in a liquid. To prevent these foods from falling apart or drying out, the cooking is kept to a bare minimum.
Traditionally in poaching, eggs are cooked in water and vinegar, poultry in stock, fish in white wine and fruit in red wine. The vinegar and the wines are the acids, although it appears that chicken cooked in stock can be acid free, unless one of the aromatics has an acid content I’m not aware of.
One of the benefits of poaching is the reduction of fat content in recipes. Chicken that is poached can be used in a variety of recipes that require already cooked chicken. I’ve always viewed poached eggs as “frying in water”. Obviously, that’s not culinarily accurate, but the resulting egg is very similar to a fried egg cooked medium minus the fat.
Fish can be poached in a variety of bases such as water or milk; even coconut milk or olive oil. Fruits, while often calling for red wine, can be poached in white wine, brandy or even coffee. Dried fruits can be reconstituted through poaching as well.
All in all, poaching appears to be a very healthy way to cook these foods. I don’t know that I would ever use this method myself, but I saw a couple recipes I’d be willing to try if someone made it. I’ll post a few interesting recipe links below.