Chicken Poached in White Wine

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What happens when you have too much leftover white wine or (horrors!) some of your white wine goes off? Easy, if you can drink it, cook with it. I had a bottle go off from neglect: it sat in my store room for far too long. My bad. The good thing about it was that I got to make a very decadent yet simple meal out of it. It’s also quite healthy depending on your sides.


Poached chicken really goes places when you do it in white wine. The floral and mineral flavours penetrate the chicken well and there’s little need for heavy seasoning or very much fat to help it along. If you really want to gild the lily, try adding herbs like the classic tarragon (fresh or dry both work well) to the poaching liquid.

I use chicken breast here because it is the sweetest tasting cut and the gentle poaching keeps it tender. If you have chicken fillets, use those instead, cutting down the cooking time accordingly. The results will be even more tender than chicken breast.

For the sides, you can go the healthy route by having it with apple, cabbage and caraway salad and plain rice, or you could make like me and have buttered rice (melt a knob of butter into hot rice) and grilled chicken skin (from the same piece of chicken) with the salad.


½ bottle dry white wine
1 sprig tarragon, optional
2 chicken breast portions


  1. Combine the wine and tarragon in a saucepan, then lower in the chicken breast.
  2. Simmer on very low heat till small bubbles start to form. Do not allow to boil. Constantly skim foam off the surface.
  3. Keep simmering for 5 minutes.
  4. Take the pan off the heat and leave to steep for 15 minutes.
  5. Heat about one cup of poaching liquid in a frying pan. Boil till reduced to about one-fourth of its original volume. You should get a thin sauce at this point. Season to taste. If you like the sauce a bit thicker, either stir in a knob of butter or a half a teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with water (or both).
  6. Slice chicken and drizzle with the sauce.

Serves 2.

The poaching liquid freezes very well for future poaching sessions. You can also add it to your next batch of chicken soup or stock for added oomph.


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