Poaching is best for very delicate foods, such as eggs, fish, white meat chicken and fruit. It is a very healthy cooking method, because liquid—not fat—carries the heat into the food. It is the method accomplished with the least amount of heat, and, therefore is a gradual, gentle cooking process.
Poaching is ideally done at temperatures between 160°F and 180°F, or well below a simmer. The best way to tell if a poaching liquid is at the correct temperature is with an instant read thermometer. Short of that, look at the liquid in the pan. There should be a slight convective current in the liquid, as the warmer liquid rises to the surface. The liquid should be gently moving, but it should not be bubbling at all.
Poaching takes patience. Poaching allows the proteins in foods to uncoil, or denature, slowly, without squeezing out moisture. If you were to drop a delicate chicken breast into boiling water, the proteins would seize up so quickly that all the moisture would be squeezed out, and you would end up with a small piece of dry rubber!
You can poach in water, milk or a flavourful broth. The broth used in poaching is called a court bouillon. It consists of the poaching liquid itself (often broth or stock) an acid (wine, lemon juice, or vinegar), a bouquet garni (a small bundle of aromatics tied up in cheesecloth, or just tied together with kitchen string (bay leaf, parsley, peppercorns, garlic, thyme, etc) and mirepoix (onion, celery and carrot. Traditional proportions for a white mirepoix is two parts onion to one part each celery and carrot).
Here are some different poaching recipes to try:-