Methods for Shallow Poaching

Methods for Shallow Poaching

  1. Assemble all ingredients and preparations for shallow poaching.

    • Main ingredients

    • Liquid

    • Additional or optional items for flavoring, finishing and garnishing

    • Items necessary to prepare the sauce

    Items to be shallow poached should be naturally tender and of a size and shape that will allow them to cook in a short time. Remove the skin and bones from poultry. If preparing fish fillets, skin and bones should also be removed. As for shellfish, remove it from its shell, if desired.

    The liquid should contribute flavor to the food as well as to the sauce prepared from the cooking liquid. Choose rich broths or stocks, and add wine, vinegar and/or citrus juice.

    Cut shallots, garlic or ginger root finely or mince them. Other ingredients you wish to serve along with the sauce as a garnish should be cut neatly into strips, dice, julienne or chiffonade. These ingredients are often allowed to smother or par-cook in advance of shallow poaching the main item. This is done to develop the best possible flavor, as well as to make certain that all of the ingredients in the finished dish are fully cooked at the same time.

     

  2. Assemble all equipments necessary for cooking and serving.

    • Saute pan or other suitable cooking vessel

    • Parchment or loose fitting lid

    • Serving pieces as needed, strainers, whip, tongs, etc.

    Select the pan or baking dishes carefully for shallow poached dishes. If there is too much space left around the food, then you will need to add a significant quantity of poaching liquid, This will have several adverse effects as it will make it easier to overcook the food. Sauce preparation will take longer, since you will have more liquid to reduce. Cooking speed can be more difficult to control properly too.

    Parchment is generally used to loosely cover the pan as the food cooks. It traps enough of the steam to cook the unexposed part of the food, but not so much that the cooking speed increases. Maintaining a gently, low cooking temperature is the best way to produce the most delicious results.

Method

  1. Add the ingredients to the pan. Although not always essential, a coating of butter is generally spread in an even layer in a cold pan or baking dish. Then, the aromatic ingredients (e.g. shallots, garlic, vegetables, herbs or mushrooms) are added in an even layer. They may be allowed to smother lightly in the butter at this point, or they may have been cooked separately. If they cook completely in the time required by the main item and the sauce preparation steps, they can be added raw.

  2. Add the main item and the cooking liquid. Set the main item on top of the aromatics, and then pour in the liquid. It is not necessary in most cases to have the liquid already heated. For large items, it may be helpful, however. Be careful that it is not at a full boil. The liquid's level should be no higher than halfway up the item. Generally, less liquid is required. If too much is used, either a great deal of time will be needed for it to reduce properly or only part of it will be useable in the sauce. This is undesirable and could result in a loss of flavor in both the main item and the sauce.

  3. Bring the liquid to a bare simmer over direct heat. The liquid is typically brought up to the correct cooking speed over direct heat. There may be some occasions when it is preferable to perform the entire cooking operation in the oven. The quantity of food being prepared and available equipment will dictate where it is most logically done. Do not allow the liquid to boil at any time. A rapid boil will cook the food too quickly, affecting the quality of the dish. Fish might easily break apart or poultry may toughen if they are not cooked at the correct temperature - never more than 170oF (75oC).

  4. Lightly cover the saute pan with parchment paper and finish cooking the main item either over direct heat or in a moderate oven. Acceptable results can be achieved by finishing the cooking over direct heat. However, the heat in an oven, which is more even and gentle, is preferable. In addition, finishing shallow poaching in the oven makes burner space available for other purposes. Shallow poached foods should be cooked until they are just done.

  5. Remove the main item to a holding dish. Moisten it with a small amount of the cooking liquid. Cover the item and keep it warm while completing the sauce.

  6. Prepare a sauce from the cooking liquid.

  7. Ladle the sauce over the food and serve it while still very hot.

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