Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Balsamic Poached Chicken

I glanced out the window at the signs of spring
the sky was almost blue
the trees were almost budding
and the sun was almost bright

--Millard Kaufman


Can you feel it in the air?  Little whispers, hints and glints of spring.

Flashes of hope and surrender.

The transition has begun.

And in the cautious spirit of optimism, I am offering up this simple and delightful dish that is lean, clean and full of protein.

If you've never been entirely moved by the thought of poached food, I think this recipe may sway you!  Twenty minutes is all you will need to plate this moist and tasty chicken infused with complex flavours and aroma.  It's hard to believe this dish does not contain one ounce of added fat.

I first made this recipe about a decade ago to very positive reviews.  I played it over and over again in the weeks and months that followed and then, as these things often go, I eventually forgot about it and it got archived from memory. Something in the spring air, reminded me of this simple, lovely number.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Balsamic Poached Chicken
(recipe adapted from Real Simple Magazine)

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp palm sugar or other coarse grain sugar (sub brown sugar)



You can use the leftover sauce from the pan to drizzle over the cooked chicken.  I served this balsamic chicken last night with wild rice which sopped up the sauce beautifully.  I also tossed some mushrooms and onion right into the broth and poached them as well.  Delish.


In a saucepan large enough to accommodate the four chicken breasts, combine chicken stock, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar, whisking to combine.  Place chicken breasts in the pan ensuring they are separated from each other (not stacked) and immersed in the sauce (you can add a little water or stock if necessary to cover the breasts).

Bring sauce to a boil with chicken in the pan and allow it to simmer at a gentle boil for 3 minutes.  Remove pan from heat, cover, and allow the chicken to sit in the pan for 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  (If the chicken pieces are particularly large/thick, it may take a couple minutes longer).

Remove chicken from saucepan - it will be a gorgeous dark burgundy colour - slice into chunky pieces and plate.  Add a drizzle of leftover sauce from pan if desired.


  1. It does indeed look simple and delightful! I've got to try this sometime. :)

  2. Well Kelly, I'm not so optimistic today, the weather well, how shall I put it? SUCKS. There I said it. It started with rain last night and then as the temperatures plummeted, we got snow, about 5cm. Then rain again and more snow and more rain. It's a big pile of slushy mesh. Beautiful, fluffy white snow, I could have enjoyed (for about a minute), but this stuff? I'm not feeling the love.
    This is a wonderful recipe, combining salty and sweet in the most wonderful way. And talk about fusion? Italian Balsamic and Asian Soy? Who would have thought that they could marry so well. I'm doing a low glycemic diet (to get control before my benchmark birthday) so I'm going to have to bookmark it. But rest assured that I will make this one day.
    Costco has a very good balsamic under their own brand Kirkland which is excellent quality for the price...this is my everyday balsamic.

  3. Very similar to a method I use, except that I use green tea instead of chicken stock, and add star anise. And I don't use balsamic vinegar. But I should. So, it's not that similar... but it's poached. Oh, well - I guess I'm in a very silly mood today ;-)

    Lovely color, I should definitely keep this one in mind, I eat poached chicken a lot for lunch

  4. I've boiled chicken before just to use it shredded in a recipe, but it always seems so dry. How do you keep it moist when poaching? Is it just a matter of not overcooking? Love the idea of using a yummy vinegar mixture!

    Spring definitely feels like it's coming here's warmer and rainy today. I was hoping for more snow before winter's over!

  5. Eva, I am totally laughing at myself right now. Yesterday was a lovely sunny day in Ottawa. Mild too. The kind of day that sings spring. Today is a disaster ;o). This morning, I got pelted with ice walking the dog, it then turned to rain and now it's snowing like the dickens. Ah well, they never promised us a rapid transition... would have been better timed posting this write-up yesterday but alas, my photos weren't quite ready. Still, the recipe is very yummy and I think you'd be hard pressed to find something lower on the GI scale. Hope you enjoy!

  6. Kelly, I must say... You have a way with words, as well as with food! Now you had me dreaming of spring and poached chicken. I can just imagine how moist and tasty this chicken is and I can't wait to try it for myself!

  7. Emilie@TheCleverCarrotFebruary 27, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    I love how simple yet elegant this dish looks! I haven't poached anything in ages, but since I have all of the ingredients I might have to make this tonight. Thanks for thinking of dinner for me ;) What a lovely, quick meal :)

  8. The flavours sound great Kelly!

    I can feel the slight signs of Spring! I noticed the tulips at my boyfriend's house had sprouted up and I could see the beautiful tiny yellow buds. I said "They are all so smart, those tulips! They all came up on the very same day, like they just knew that Spring is coming!" In the Debbie Downer moment of the day, my boyfriend replied "I think they've made a mistake. It's still too cold and they're all going to die."

    Wah- Wahhh

    I will anticipate Spring with a positive attitude...even if I'm the only one ;-)

  9. Oh my! I just finished reading the recipe and my mouth is hanging open in awe. :) 1 cup of balsamic vinegar - that's a lot of vinegar, but I guess there's enough stock to keep it from being too strong. When I first saw that I thought - no way could I make it because Bobby really has problem with the smell of boiling vinegar. But it only simmers for 3 minutes. I think he could handle that because the results look amazing! I can't wait to make this! It's so crazy because we haven't had snow all winter, but then it has snowed twice this week Crazy!. So I'm still waiting for spring.

  10. Definitely on my lunch list! I have been eating lots of chicken breast and this looks super duper delicious with balsamic!

  11. Mandy - The Complete Cook BookFebruary 28, 2013 at 3:37 AM

    Now this is definitely a meal I have to make. Thank you for such an awesome fat free recipe. We are still enjoying lovely warm weather (albeit the last for the season) so I can enjoy this lovely chicken with a nice big salad for lunch and maybe a repeat for dinner.
    Have a super day.
    :-) Mandy xo

  12. I have got to have five bottles of balsamic in the pantry. Right up my alley!

  13. Kelly, just stopped by to save kudos! I made this for supper tonight and served with a massaged kale salad with cara cara oranges and toasted pumpkin seeds. What a delicious meal! And SO healthy. It was so delicious and healthy that I don't feel bad about eating a cookie for dessert. :) Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe!

  14. Ah, MJ, what a lovely note to find! I'm so happy that you gave this recipe a try and even better that you enjoyed it! Hopefully the boiling vinegar was not too much for Bobby... your whole menu sounds delightful by the way; did you take some snaps Thanks so much for taking the time to drop in and let me know. Much appreciated! :O)

  15. Cheers Mandy! I do enjoy naturally occurring fats of all kinds but this particular recipe is a nice change-up - amazing how much flavour while being so lean. A nice spring number ;0). Enjoy the beautiful sunshine and thanks so much for dropping by!

  16. Wow, I can't believe how early spring arrives in the West... we have sprouting ice and snow here ;0). Debbie Downer - heehee - hopefully those gorgeous buds will all flourish! xo

  17. I know, I don't poach much myself - enjoy my fats far too much :) - but this is a nice little number and talk about simple... Cheers Emilie!

  18. Awh, thank you so much Sonia... I do enjoy the writing piece almost as much (*almost*) as the food part ;o). Thanks for your kind words.

  19. What an extraordinary idea! You are a genius! I wonder why no one has ever thought about it. Well, not everyone is so creative and bold :-) In spite of the balsamic vinegar, which is European, this glazing sounds to me strangely Asian... soy sauce and sweet vinegar and sugar must produce something very close to certain Asian sauces. It reminds me of the soy sauce chicken (shoyu chicken) a bit... I will prepare it soon because I'm sure I will love it! Thank you, Kelly for one more inspiration.
    We also feel spring in the air. It's still cold, but sun is already as strong as it can be only in warm months and there is this particular spring smell...

  20. Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. I think flash cooking is where it's at. High temperature for a very brief period. In fact, the original recipe calls for only one minute of heat (boil) and 15 off heat. I found for my own comfort (ensuring the chicken was actually cooked) and the size of the breasts I was working with, 3 minutes was better suited. Still, the recipe came out tender and flavourful. I hope you enjoy it if you give it a try Amy!

  21. Err, yup, that does sound a little different ;0).

    Nothing wrong with Silly. Many of my days are built on it - Cheers Sally :).

  22. Hi Sissi! I was actually thinking of your shoyu chicken as I prepared and ate this dish... you may not find this recipe as flavourful I'm afraid (really hard to beat the taste of shoyu) but... this balsamic poached chicken only has 2 Tbsp of sugar so the proportions are quite different and when you keep that in mind, pretty darn flavourful results given the ingredients. The leaness of the recipe made me think of spring... winter makes me think of joyous fats ;o).

  23. It looks wonderfully healthy and tasty. A perfect combination of the two and your special touch of simplicity.

  24. SweetcarolinescookingMarch 1, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    Ohhhh this chicken sounds amazing! Love the simplicity of the recipe--balsamic, soy sauce and brown sugar is such a wonderful combo. x

  25. Julia@JuliasAlbum.comMarch 2, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    I love the burgundy color of the chicken! Have to try this recipe!

  26. I love the look of this dish and will make it tomorrow night. I will leave out the sugar though and am wondering if this will alter the balance too much.


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