1. Place the chicken breasts in a 4-1/2 qt pot. You may want to cut chicken pieces into smaller sizes so they cook more quickly, especially if you'll be shredding the chicken after it is cooked. Peel the onion, cut it and the celery into 4 pieces, and add them to the pot. Peel the carrot, cut it into roughly 1-inch pieces, and add them to the pot. Sprinkle the black pepper over the chicken and vegetables. Add just enough cold water to completely cover the chicken and vegetables, then sprinkle in the salt, if using.
2. Cover the pot and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. As soon as the water reaches a vigorous boil, remove the pot from the heat and let it stand, covered, until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 25 minutes for average-size pieces. (Test for doneness.) Do not overcook.
3. When the chicken is done, remove it from the pot,using tongs or a slotted spoon. Allow the chicken to cool enough to cut into bite-size chunks for future use.
4. You may want to mix seasonings and spices with the chicken chunks before refrigerating in airtight container, depending upon your future plans for this chicken. Possible seasonings include chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and onion powder, basil or oregano, paprika.
5. These poached chicken chunks can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for 2 to 3 months. Refrigerate or freeze in 1- or 2-cup containers. To defrost, remove lid and microwave on defrost setting or defrost in refrigerator overnight.
Uses for Perfect Poached Chicken: