Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Poaching Good Recipes

In Eating Is Extreme I spoke about all the foods and methods of cooking them that can kill you. And, of course, as stated in the post, I began to get depressed by my own ramblings. As a foodie who's more interested in health than being a douchebag, I follow Dr. Josh Axe on Facebook, Instagram and generally wherever I see his name. Delivering alternatives to harsh products as well as information on different health ailments, I learned from him that I've likely developed something he terms "Candida Gut" from my many years of eating cupcakes and nothing of real sustenance. As such, Axe states that people who experience the condition often suffer from "damp insides" which can be remedied by foods which are warm and high in nutrients. To some extent I was able to (correctly or incorrectly) diagnose myself with the condition based on the fact that I'm always cold and love soup (as well as a few other symptoms which seem much more prevalent such as anxiety). So, it would make sense that my body craves warm foods to balance the coldness within (ha). And the creation of soups does provide a way to cook foods which is a bit gentler (and healthier) than a searing pan or grill: poaching.

Visuals help.

According to Campbell's (soup) Kitchen, poaching is a cooking method whereby one, "simmer[s] food in hot liquid until... cooked." The same source also states that it is a "gentle" cooking procedure which is also classified as a "moist-heat cooking method." Yummy. So, whereas I was at a loss for foods that were cooked but unexposed to the Maillard-Reaction (see Eating Is Extreme) I was happy to see poaching as a method that could be both healthy and beneficial.

I recently was reintroduced to the poaching method from an ancient Cooking Light periodical stashed in the back of my local nail salon. Gaining my attention with a recipe for lobster, I noticed the chef at Dudley's Refresher in Maine used the poaching method to cook the crustacean. Specifically, she poached the lobster in butter which made me melt like... butta.

And, just like the chef above, one need not solely poach their item in water. Chicken stock (soon to be the topic of a forthcoming article), tomato sauce or even wine can all serve as liquids which can both poach or gently heat an item while simultaneously imparting flavor. Thus below, I've included a few recipes which use the poaching method as opposed to the roasting method for a healthier outcome. Enjoy!

Poached Eggs: Start with the basics, as they say. When I first came down to Washington with my family when I was fourteen, I noticed an option for poached eggs on the menu. "What are poached eggs?" I asked my mother who, being of Irish and Polish descent, cooked eggs two ways: hard boiled when she planned ahead and soft boiled when she was running short on time. But somehow, poached eggs seemed like an invitation to fine dining... where not everything was boiled as fuck.

I think I've heard that classically trained chefs begin by learning to cook eggs. With less danger of disease which can appear in uncooked meat as well as lower costs than prime cut meats, eggs (I suppose) are a great way to learn the basics of cooking; and the same goes here. Learning to poach eggs (as I'm still doing) provides one with the opportunity to play with the temperature of your poaching liquid and arrive at a level of firmness you prefer in your meat- very important to know. So, using the recipe (or link) above, poach some eggs for yourself or a friend... they'll think they're experiencing fine dining ;)

Poached Fish: Since poaching is a gentle method of cooking where heats don't become comparatively high, it's usually used to warm delicate meats... which are generally healthier than the tougher ones anyways. So the cooking method's really a win-win in terms of health. Here, I've included Emeril Lagasse's recipe for poached salmon to show the method's ease of use and because it was the first one that showed up on my google search. Anyways, while the stock initially heats to a high temperature, Lagasse informs readers to turn the temperature down so that it's only simmering when they add the salmon steaks. And while poaching meats is healthy, it often takes some vigilance while it cooks in order to ensure a correct level of "doneness." However, since poaching often involves more delicate meats, cooking times are often quick quick.

Poached Vegetables: While you likely couldn't tell from the post which led to this one (Eating Is Extreme) I really don't like being prosletory about food... telling people to eat (or not eat) one way or the other. In general, I like to inform and let people make their choices from there (not that anyone listens to me). However, I hate to say that the more I read about meat and its effects on our environment and health through consumption, the more unappetizing it becomes. Vegetables, on the other hand, are items which become more intriguing with more knowledge. Loaded with nutrients and lending themselves to a variety of cooking styles, vegetables can be a more indulgent item to poach.

When you're young, your mother (or father) tells you to, "eat your vegetables so you can have dessert." When you're older, you tell yourself to eat your vegetables so you can poach them in something sweet. By sweet, I mean luxurious. It's true that eating vegetables leaves space for richer dips or a dessert which follows. Having consumed multiple nutrients alongside relatively few calories, veggies can ease the guilt of poaching something in a decadent broth. It's not so much about the strain rich meats and dips can place on our waistlines it's more about the strain it can place on our hearts. So, in honor of balance I've included a recipe (above) for poached vegetables served alongside a caper mayonnaise. Magnifico!

Soy Steamed Chicken: Last year, herbal steams were all the rage. Amy Sedaris was using it and Into The Gloss was writing about it. Indeed, it seemed to be on the radar of every girl with perfect skin. So, as you can imagine, I abstained from the trend. Not to downgrade its effectiveness, I just knew my skin troubles were more than skin-deep and a little steam wasn't going to fix a larger problem. But steam is helpful in opening pores which can lead to a loosing of dirt and oils within their place of residence. And the same can go for food. When we steam something, we're not only cooking it in a way which makes it more tender we're also cooking in a manner that maintains its nutrients.

Although steaming is different than poaching, they both qualify as a "moist-heating method" under Campbell's classifications. And, while I sang the high praises of vegetables in lieu of less healthy meats, I saved the healthier cooking method for the less healthy dish. Marinated in soy sauce and shit, the chicken in the recipe is then steamed atop a bed of cabbage leaves. Make poached eggs for breakfast and this dish for dinner and your friends will claim you a chef extraordinaire. 

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