By Lucinda Scala Quinn
Food goes in naked. It comes out bursting with flavor. Such is the power of poaching, which calls on hot, tasty brews to transform lean cuts into meals that are as healthy as they are delectable. Now pick a protein, bathe it in a broth ... and forget every assumption youâ€™ve ever made about low-fat cooking.
When beef tenderloin is tethered to a long wooden spoon, itâ€™s classically known as â€śbeef on a string.â€ť Here, itâ€™s lowered into an onion broth, and the juices are locked in as it simmers to the desired doneness.
Thinly slice the chicken breast and place it alongside a tangle of fresh greens and crunchy radishes. Then layer any leftovers into a sandwich on thin-sliced multigrain bread, topped with a light version of savory gribiche -- nonfat yogurt combined with chopped cornichons and capers.
Fish and wine, those traditional poaching partners, get an update with an infusion of fresh grapefruitâ€”juice, peel, and zest.
Poaching salmon allows it to retain its pleasing pink tone, since the low, steady temperature of the simmering liquid prevents the albumen (that white film) from extruding to the surface. Cozy a piece of the fish up next to mellowed fennel and softened red onion wedges, then drizzle on a healthier version of hollandaise: Swap in extra-virgin olive oil for butter.
Kombu -- a deeply flavored kelp -- and dried mushrooms simmer in water to develop a rich vegetal broth called dashi, the base for this sweet potato-tofu soup.
Collectorâ€™s enameled cast-iron braiser, by Martha Stewart Collection, 5 qt., in Cranberry, $170, macys.com