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Poaching 101: What it is, How to do it, and Chef Gerrie’s Tips

Poaching 101: What it is, How to do it, and Chef Gerrie’s Tips
Poaching is one of five essential cooking methods I call The Fabulous Five. Once you’ve got these down (and with my help, you will in no time), then you can master anything your heart desires. Let’s get started with the delicate cooking method of poaching…


What is Poaching?

To poach is to cook food gently in a liquid just below the boiling point, approximately between 160-185° F, or when the liquid shows a quivering movement. Using a butter paper lid, or cartouche, the product being poached is almost completely covered during cooking.

What is a cartouche? A cartouche is a round piece of parchment paper cut to the diameter of the pan with a tiny hole in the center to let steam escape.

The amount of liquid depends upon the thickness of the product you’re poaching and the kind of liquid being used. Possible liquids include…

  • Water with some vinegar for poaching eggs.
  • Light simple syrup for poaching fruit.
  • Chicken or beef stock for poaching poultry and other meats.
  • Court-bouillon for poaching seafood.

What is a court-bouillon? A court-bouillon is a broth made from scratch used for poaching other foods.

Increase the flavor of your cooking liquid, finished sauce, and final product by adding minced shallots, mirepoix, seasonings, and other aromatics before adding the raw product to the liquid.

What is mirepoix? Typically a mirepoix, pronounced meer-pwah, is two parts onion, one part carrots, and one part celery cooked on gentle heat with butter or other fat. Mirepoix often serve as the flavor base in stocks, soups, stews, and sauces.

Two Kinds of Poaching: Shallow and Deep

#1: Shallow poaching is when the liquid comes no more than half way up of the thickness of the product. When shallow poaching, first butter the pan before laying products down flat, not crammed up against the sides of the pan.

#2: Deep poaching is when the product is submerged in the liquid.

Chef Gerrie’s Poaching Tips:

  • Your cooking liquid must be room temperature or just warm. Adjust the heat settings so no boiling occurs and no air bubbles break the surface.
  • Instead of poaching to completion, it’s better to gently finish your product in a warm oven, approximately 150° F for a delicate taste.
  • Create a sauce from the cuisson, or the remaining shallow poaching liquid. To do so, reduce the cuisson to half and add a veloute matching the food product — chicken, beef, or seafood. The same can be done with deep poaching but in a separate pan.

What is a velouté? Velouté is stock thickened with a roux, or flour and fat cooked together, which then produces a sauce.  

  • Garnish with other components used in the flavoring liquid for added flavor and flair. If the dish is served hot, cook the components for a comprehensive dish.

Let’s Chat!

Any questions? Do you have anything to add? What’s your experience with poaching? Tell me about it in the comments section below or on my Facebook page, Chef Gerrie.

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