Poaching is one of The Fabulous Five cooking methods that are a Chef Jungle must for untangling the mysteries of cooking. Master these 5 methods and you’ll be able to cook everything from a quick sandwich board for entertaining, to a romantic and impressive roasted rack of pork loin stuffed with dried fruit.
Yep, it’s all here on Chef Jungle!
Today we’re talking about poaching, specifically shallow poaching. It’s the most versatile and gentle cooking method that can be used on just about anything — fruits, eggs, fish, and meat. This moist heat method uses liquid to transfer heat to your food product, so it’s healthy as well – how great is that? Other moist heat cooking methods are blanching, boiling, and steaming.
What is Shallow Poaching?
Shallow poaching uses a well seasoned pan slathered in butter, shallots and aromatics like fresh herbs. The ideal food product should be no more than 1 to 2 inches thick and seasoned. Once you lay down your product, add your liquid and start poaching.
The liquid you use is up to you and what would complement your product best. You could use fruit juice, simple syrup, water, stock, or wine. Warm your liquid to 160-180 degrees F and let the warm liquid do the work.
You can poach on the stove on low heat, or in a warm 250 degree F oven. As always, don’t crowd the pan to maintain consistent heat, and use a pan with a heavy level bottom for even cooking.
Your poaching liquid should come just halfway up the sides of your product. Now here’s the expert tip many home cooks don’t know…
Always top your shallow poached foods with a buttered cartouche.
Just kidding…you’re probably wondering…
“What the heck is a cartouche, Chef Gerrie?”
A cartouche, pronounced kärˈto͞oSH, is a round top made from parchment paper used in slow and low cooking methods, like poaching. It serves as a lid to the pan you’re cooking in.
Cartouches prevent a skin from forming, utilize the steam to cook the product, and keep any splatter inside the pan. After you make your cartouche (we’ll get to that in just a second), butter the side that will top your product so it doesn’t stick and compromise the final dish.
Now I’m going to teach you how to make your own cartouche at home.
How to Make a Cartouche:
You’re going to need the following…
- Parchment paper
- Pan for poaching
Step 1: Roll out a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover the top of your poaching pan.
Step 2: Fold your parchment paper in half width-wise, or “hamburger style”, then place your finger in the middle of the folded edge, and take the far point of the parchment paper and fold up about 20 degree to make an elongated triangle.
Step 3: Continue folding over as explained in step 2 until you have created a cone shape.
Step 4: Use your scissors to snip off a very tiny piece of the end of the parchment paper, or the smallest part of the cone.
Step 5: Take the pointed end of the cone and measure the radius just inside of the pan. Trim off any wide excess of the cone so it fits just inside the pan.
Step 6: Unfold the parchment paper to reveal your cartouche – a circular lid that fits your poaching pan with a small circle in the center to release heat.
Step 7: Butter one side of the cartouche and, when you’re ready, place the buttered side on top of the product you are poaching.