IT’S EVERY LIFTER’S go-to high-protein meal, and for good reason: Just three ounces of roasted chicken breast has 27 grams of the muscle-building nutrient.
But why suffer through another dry, bland cutlet when you can have a juicy-as-all-get-out, deeply tasty one?
There’s a secret to cooking chicken breast the right way and it actually doesn’t involve your oven or the grill. Grilling or roasting chicken breast quickly dries out the meat.
Instead, try poaching, which gently eases the chicken into juicy tenderness. The method takes no longer than it would take you to preheat a grill and sear chicken—plus it’ll suit you well through the depths of winter when your grill is snowed under.
Then, while the chicken poaches, you’ll have the time to whip up a sauce to further amplify the flavors of the meal. And if that sounds complicated, know that these sauces require less than 10 ingredients, come together in about five minutes, and each recipe sauces two chicken breasts, which means you’ll have leftovers for another meal.
Yes, all the recipes that follow have the 30 grams of protein you need to build and maintain muscle. And, yes, we’ve even included two nutrition-packed side dishes that will help you get the 10 grams of fiber you need at every meal to fight hunger. (Each pairs well with any of the sauces and feeds four.)
But the other thing you’ll find in massive amounts within each recipe is something you definitely won’t find in yet another grilled chicken breast: flavor.
Step 1: How to Poach Chicken Breast the Right Way
Poaching chicken breast is not complicated. In fact, the technique is even easier than most other methods—and way more flavorful.
What You’ll Need:
2 (6 to 8 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 small onion, halved
2 garlic cloves, smashed
3 sprigs thyme
1/2 lemon, quartered
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp whole peppercorns
How to Make It:
1. In a large pot, add all the ingredients and enough water to cover the chicken by 2 inches. (For more flavor, replace 1/4 of the water with white wine or hard cider.)
2. Bring the water to a very slight simmer over medium heat. Cook the chicken, partly covered with a pot lid, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken, allow to cool to the touch, and slice. Top with one of the sauces in the next section.
Step 2: Make an Easy Sauce for Chicken Breast
Heat all the ingredients over medium low for 5 minutes, stirring a couple times. The sauce is ready when the chicken is ready. Easy, right?
1 cup frozen or fresh blackberries + 1 Tbsp shallots, chopped + 1 garlic clove, minced +2 tsp balsamic vinegar +1 tsp honey + 1 tsp lemon zest + 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup orange juice + juice of 1/2 lime + 1 tsp lime zest+ 1 Tbsp olive oil + 2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped + 1 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped+ 1 Tbsp jalapeños, chopped + 1 Tbsp garlic, minced + 1/4 tsp cumin + 1/8 tsp salt
Port Wine and Cherries
1/3 cup port wine + 1/2 cup frozen cherries, halved + 2 tsp balsamic vinegar + 1 tsp fresh thyme + 1 tsp orange zest + 1 tsp honey + 1/4 tsp allspice + 1/8 tsp salt
2 Tbsp barbecue sauce + 1 tsp bourbon +1 tsp yellow mustard + 1/2 tsp chili powder+ 1/4 tsp garlic powder + 1 Tbsp scallion greens, chopped
1/4 cup chicken stock + 1/4 cup hard apple cider + 2 Tbsp almonds, chopped
+ 2 Tbsp dried cranberries + 1 tsp dried sage + 1 tsp Dijon mustard + 1 tsp maple syrup + 1 tsp cornstarch + 1/8 tsp salt
Pumpkin Peanut Satay
1/3 cup pumpkin puree + 2 Tbsp PB + 3 Tbsp coconut milk + 2 Tbsp peanuts, chopped + 1 tsp ginger, minced + 1 garlic clove, minced + 2 tsp soy sauce + 1Tbsp rice vinegar + 1tsp Sriracha + 1 tsp sesame oil + 1 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses + 2 tsp lemon juice + 2 tsp tomato paste + 1 Tbsp garlic, minced + 1/2 cup roasted red pep-pers, sliced + 2 Tbsp walnuts, chopped + 1/2 tsp paprika + 1/4 tsp cumin + 18 tsp salt
Step 3: Make a Healthy Side Dish That Goes With Chicken Breast
This step is optional in that you could always go with steamed broccoli, but then again you’d have to suffer through another side dish of steamed broccoli.
Maple Butternut Lentil Pear Salad
Roast 3 cups butternut squash (cubed) with 2 tsp olive oil and 1/4 tsp salt at 400°F, 30 minutes. In a bowl, whisk 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp maple syrup, 2 Tbsp cider vinegar, 2 Tbsp horseradish, 2 tsp thyme, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 garlic clove (minced),and 1/4 tsp salt. Divide 6 cups baby kale among 4 plates. Add squash, 1/3 cup black lentils (cooked), 1/2 pear (sliced), 1 Tbsp pecans (sliced), and the dressing.
Farro Zucchini Cakes
In a colander, mix 1 lb zucchini (grated) and 1/2 tsp salt. Let it sit 10 minutes; squeeze to drain. In a bowl, mix the zucchini, 1 cup farro (cooked),1 cup quick-cook oats, 1/4 cup scallion (minced), juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp salt, and 3 eggs.In batches, cook 1/3 cup in an oiled pan on medium, 4 minutes per side.
A version of this article originally appeared in the March 2022 issue of Men’s Health.
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