Last Sunday it was our turn to host the gourmet group gathering. It is the dog days of summer here in New Mexico and while the house is cool, the outside temperature begs for cold dishes. And, truth be told, after my surgeries in October and then my bout with cancer, I am still regaining my stamina. So something complicated was not in the cards.
We recently had oven-fried Chipotle chicken and there, on the opposite page was an idea too good to pass up – Poached Chicken breasts with Tuna Basil Sauce. I wouldn’t have given the idea a second thought – not a big fan of poaching – but using the sous vide machine, now that’s a different story. Another plus, the recipe calls for everything to be made at least 6 hours ahead or, preferably overnight. All that remains to be done on the day of the dinner is plating, garnishing and bringing to the table. I have modified the original recipe by sous viding the chicken and adding the arugula. but poaching would work just as well, though you may want to use bone in skin on breasts if you are poaching the chicken. I have to admit it was a great idea. The house stayed cool and I had none of the stress associated with last-minute cooking. A BIG win all around!
Cold Poached Chicken Breasts with Tuna Basil Sauce Serves 6
- 6 chicken breasts
- 6 ½ ounces of canned tuna packed in olive oil, drained well
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup plain yogurt
- 3 anchovy fillets
- 1 tbl. Drained bottled capers, more for garnish
- 2 tbl. fresh lemon juice, or to taste
- 1/3 c finely chopped fresh basil leaves, plus sprigs for garnish if desired
- 3 cups loosely packed Arugula
- Kalamata olives as a garnish
Sous Vide the chicken breasts per directions for your machine, remove from the water bath when done and place in the refrigerator for at least six hours or overnight. If you prefer the poaching method, bring enough water in a pot to cover the chicken breasts by one inch and bring to a boil. Add the chicken breasts and salt to taste to the water. Simmer the chicken breasts for 18 minutes (a bit longer at altitude) and remove the kettle from the heat. Allow the chicken breasts to cool in the liquid for 30 minutes. If you used bone-in skin-on breasts, when cool enough to handle, remove the skin and the breast from the bone. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Place the tuna, mayonnaise, yogurt, anchovies, 1 tbl of capers, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor. Blend until the sauce is smooth. Transfer sauce into an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Finely chop the basil and set aside.
To serve, place ½ cup of arugula on each plate. Place a cold chicken breast on top of the arugula. Stir the chopped basil into the tuna sauce and cover each chicken breast with a thin layer of sauce. Garnish the chicken breasts with additional capers, Kalamata olives, and sprigs of basil.
The other couples contributed an appetizer, a side, and dessert. And, as I had announced the entree to the group via email the others followed my cold idea with dips, cold fruit and vegetable salads and sorbet with cookies. We poured a chardonnay and a merlot with the dinner. A good time was had by all!