poached chicken

Michael Caines

“Being creative with simple ingredients results in a light, creamy sauce for this dish. The poaching ensures the chicken is nice and moist, the sauce is silky and comforting, and the seasonal vegetables provide colour and crunch,” says Michael Caines.


Poached chicken

  • 4 large skinless chicken breasts, or 6 smaller breasts
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig tarragon, leaves picked and reserved for the sauce

Wholegrain mustard mash

  • 500g Maris Piper potatoes, peeled, washed and cut into a medium dice
  • 50g butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 100ml milk
  • 30ml of extra virgin olive oil
  • Wholegrain mustard, to taste
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Tarragon sauce

  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, lightly crushed
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 100g cream cheese, light or regular
  • 1 tsp tarragon leaves, chopped (reserved from the sprig used for poaching)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Summer vegetables

  • 200g Chantenay carrots
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 sprig tarragon
  • 1 handful baby spinach
  • 200g peas
  • 12 asparagus spears
  • 120g French beans
  • 100g mangetout
  • Salt
  • Pepper

To garnish

  • Pea shoots


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
  2. To prepare the poaching stock for the chicken, place the chicken stock, thyme, bay leaf and tarragon stalk in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  3. Meanwhile, start the mashed potatoes. Place the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for approximately 20 minutes.
  4. Lightly grease an ovenproof dish with a tightly fitting lid with butter, then place the chicken breasts in the base of the dish. Pour the stock over the breasts and place the lid on top. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Once the potatoes are completely cooked, strain off through a colander and allow to air-dry for 3 minutes. Pass through a potato ricer. Heat the butter and milk in a saucepan and whisk into the potato, along with the olive oil. Add the mustard to taste, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  6. When the chicken has been poaching for 15 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven, strain off 300ml of the stock (and set it aside), then place the lid back on the dish. Set aside to rest.
  7. To make the sauce, add the butter to a heavy-based pan and add the sliced shallots, crushed garlic, thyme, bay leaf and a pinch of salt. Sweat for 3 minutes.
  8. Add the white wine vinegar and allow to evaporate completely before adding the reserved poaching stock. Reduce until you have 200ml liquid then whisk in the cream cheese and season with salt and pepper. Pass through a fine sieve, place the sauce back into a saucepan and bring back to the boil. Add the chopped tarragon leaves.
  9. Place the carrots, garlic, tarragon and a pinch of salt in a pan with plenty of water, bring to the boil and cook the carrots until tender. For the green vegetables, bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook each vegetable separately until just tender. Drain and season the vegetables with a little salt and pepper. Gently reheat the mash, if needed.
  10. Place the chicken breasts in a serving dish and pour over the sauce. Arrange the vegetables on top and serve the mash in a dish on the side. Garnish with pea shoots to finish.

Recipe by Michael Caines, courtesy of greatbritishchefs.com

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