Success! I hate failure, especially in the kitchen. It’s even worse when you see all these reviews telling you a child could do what you failed at. If you can’t tell, the octopus eraser has bothered me ever since I fixed that dreadful meal and I refuse to be beaten by some technical process or a machine. So, determined to learn the process of sous vide with protein, back to the drawing board I went but this time with a little more manageable meat, chicken. As you will see, the result was outstanding.
I cannot tell you how many reviews, advertisements etc. that I have read telling me Sous Vide Cooking is the wave of the future and will absolutely revolutionize the way we prepare meals. It’s like a kinder, gentler, crockpot but a crockpot on steroids no less. Grab your ingredients, throw them in a sealable plastic bag, vacuum seal it, set the temperature on your Sous Vide Oven to 140 F to 185 F, put you r meal bag in the water, go to work, come home, take the meal out of the Sous Vide Oven and viola dinner is ready. There is no mess, no fuss, no fear of overcooking dinner or burning your house down. In fact, you can even go away for the weekend and come home to perfectly cooked, tender, juicy, medium rare short ribs that you and your family will love.
Whoa! I need some boots because it’s getting pretty deep around here. First, I cannot bring myself to call an aquarium heater on steroids sitting in a lexan plastic tub full of water an oven. Technically speaking, an oven is a chamber used for baking, heating, or drying, it’s a piece of cooking equipment that is used for baking or roasting food. By these parameters, a sous vide setup would qualify as an oven but so would a crockpot, and no one considers a crockpot an oven. For crying out loud, a sous vide setup is a highly regulated, temperature controlled, water bath! Second, when the microwave oven first appeared in the late 60s and early 70s many people proclaimed it would revolutionize the way the world cooks. I guess to some extent it did. Almost everyone has one. They are great to reheat food, thaw out frozen foods, steam some vegetables, cook frozen meals and boil water. Microwave cooking, however, has serious limitations for a serious cook looking for that perfect meal or dish. You just can’t do it in a microwave.
Despite all the hype, or perhaps because of it, the process of low slow, vacuum sealed cooking intrigues me. It’s not the no mess, no fuss, simplicity of sous vide cooking that intrigues me. It’s not that I can cook for several days without setting my house on fire either (although I have to admit that does give me great comfort). It’s the process of taking something, cooking it in an airtight sealed container and ridiculously low temperatures yielding a tender, succulent, perfect dish. So with this in mind I persevered through the rubberized octopus eraser determined to master this technique. Last night’s meal was a true success. The chicken cooked for 3 hours at 140 F. It was perfectly done, tender and juicy, yet still maintaining the body and integrity of the muscle tissue, with that beautiful, perfectly cooked chicken flavor. There is no need to let it rest for the juices to reabsorb into the muscle tissue. Instead, when you cut into it when finished the juices are kept within the flesh providing an incredibly moist, flavorful chicken. This may be the most moist, flavorful chicken I have ever tried. It was nothing short of amazing.
For the chicken
- 3 chicken breast, boneless, with skin, 14 oz each (I couldn’t find smaller breasts at the market)
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 cloves garlic, medium to large cloves
- 3 tsp salt
- 2 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
For the Chutney
- 1 12 oz jar sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained and diced
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tsp Soy Sauce
- 1 poblano pepper, roasted and diced
- 1 medium large shallot, minced
- 2 Tbsp frech mint, finely chopped
- 1 tsp Louisiana Hot Sauce
- 2 Tbsp good olive oil
For the chicken
Preheat the sous vide machine to 140 F (60 C). Generously season both sides of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Put the chickens in a vacuum sealable bag, separating them and keeping them flat. Crush the garlic with the flat of your hand or knife and place in the middle of each breast. Put the thyme sprigs on top of the breasts and then add 2 Tablespoons of butter. Keeping the chicken breasts separated and flat, vacuum seal the chicken breasts and seasoning.
Place the vacuum sealed bag in the water bath and ignore for the next 3 hours and up to 10 hours.
For the chutney
Roast, skin and dice the poblano pepper into 1/4 inch pieces. Drain the sun dried tomatoes and dice into 1/4 inch pieces. Mince the shallots and finely chop the fresh mint. Add these ingredients to a small bowl. Add the juice of 1 lemon, the soy sauce, hot sauce, and olive oil to the bowl and stir to incorporate. Set aside until ready to serve.
After 3 hours, remove the chicken breasts from the water bath.
Cut open the bag. Although the chicken is perfectly done, the skin will be flaccid and unappealing. So, add 3 Tbsp vegetable oil to a large skillet and heat. Place the chicken breasts, skin side down, into the heated skillet and fry for 2 – 3 minutes until golden brown and crispy.
Turn over and cook, skin side up, another 1 minute.
Place chicken breast on a plate and top with chutney.
Serve and enjoy. We very much did and Quickstep asked if he could take the leftovers to work for lunch today.