SERVES 6 TO 10
There are many ways to cook chicken breasts for use in soups, chicken salads, pot pies, and other dishes, or as a healthy dinner on their own. The French poach them very gently in water with carrots, celery, onions, and herbs, later using the resulting simple stock to make a white wine sauce; or they roast them in the oven. I much prefer the poaching method developed by my daughter Heather. She gently cooks the chicken breasts in butter with salt, pepper, and herbs. The results are tender and delicious, and you are left with an intense buttery chicken stock for flavoring sauces.
3 or 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, about 2 pounds total weight
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence (a traditional southern French herb blend)
Freshly ground black pepper
In a stockpot or large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter until it begins to sizzle. Place the breasts in a single layer on the bottom of the pot, touching snuggly but not overlapping. Sprinkle the chicken with the herbes de Provence and pinches of salt and pepper. Cook, covered, for about 3 minutes. Then, turn the breasts over, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover again, and continue poaching until the breasts are completely cooked through, with no pink visible when one is cut into with a sharp knife at its thickest part, about 15 minutes longer.