Poaching is a gentle method of cooking in barely simmering liquid, meaning that the surface of the liquid shimmers and the few bubbles that appear break the surface slowly. The temperature of liquid in this state is between 170º and 185ºF. As long as the liquid isn’t allowed to simmer rapidly or boil, poaching keeps poultry, meat, fish, and fruit moist and tender, with flavors that are pure and elemental. Chicken and veal are usually poached in broth, and fish is cooked in a court bouillon, a delicate broth made from vegetables, herbs, and an acid like vinegar, wine, or lemon juice.
Fruit is typically poached in simple syrup (sugar dissolved in water) flavored with wine and spices. Try our recipe Red-Wine-Poached Pears with Star Anise and Pistachios.