Sous-Vide Adventures: Don’t Be Chicken Edition
Sous-vide: it’s not just for beef (or cookie dough). In today’s guest post from Cuisine Solutions, learn how the Top Chef-y cooking method can take chicken to the next level too.
Sous-vide, for all its culinary upsides, is uniquely suited for the tender preparation of meat dishes. Spare ribs, lamb shanks, and beef tenderloin have become universal staples for the culinary method, with the combined impact of ease of preparation and flavor enrichment making red meat an ideal candidate for going under the vacuum.
That being said, sous-vide is superbly suited for those looking toward the lighter side of the meat spectrum. Chicken, rightly or wrongly, is generally held as meat better suited to holding its sauce than holding its own.
You’d be hard pressed to find a foodie or seasoned chef who’d argue that Kobe beef requires a slathering of steak sauce, but serving chicken alone is a much rarer proposition. Whether you’re including the world’s most common poultry in a curry dish, as the staple of a pasta preparation, or with a Mediterranean-style tomato base, the chicken itself is hardly ever the sole focus.
Sous-vide, with its culinary basis in steeping meat in its own sauces, is a superb choice for those looking to create especially rich chicken dishes. Whether you’re shooting for a chicken korma dish or something more conventionally Italian in its inspiration, a competent chef would tend to improve the final product by wrapping it as a sous-vide preparation beforehand.
Even relatively simple Italian (or Italian-American) preparations like Chicken Margherita or Chicken Marsala are deeply indebted to the flavorful additions that their sauces bring. Chicken, whether prepared with light sauce or a heavier base, only gains a deeper character when it has time to absorb in its accompanying flavor.
As a starting point for the more adventurous chef, give something South Asian a spin. In my never-humble opinion, chicken is the meat best suited for curry dishes, and sous-vide’s flavor-enhancing impact on sauces makes it a natural go-to for curry preparation.
It also helps cut away a lot of the mess that might go into whipping up a chicken dish right on the spot—just remove the bag contents right into your slow cooker, and you’re only minutes away from having a hearty curry dish right at your fingertips.
So go wild (within reason) and swap a lot of unnecessary prep hassle for something that brings a deeper character to your chicken.
How To Sous-Vide Your Chicken
For instructions on how to prepare sous-vide chicken thighs, a more basic dish, here’s a guide borrowed from Williams-Sonoma:
-6 boneless chicken thighs, skin-on
-Salt and ground pepper
-2 garlic gloves, lightly mashed
-2 Tbs. unsalted butter
-2 Tbs. canola oil (supplement additional as needed)
- Prepare your sous-vide immersion circulator according to manufacturer instructions; preheat the water to 150°F for 30 minutes to a full hour
- Season the underside of the chicken thighs with the salt and pepper. Place the thighs, skin side down, into the vacuum-sealable bag. Add the crushed garlic and butter to the bag as well.
- Using your vacuum sealer, seal the bag until airtight, and place the back in your sous-vide water cooker. Cook from one hour to an hour and a half.
- Once the chicken is done, remove the chicken from the sous-vide cooker and place the bags in ice water for about 20 minutes. Afterwards, place the bags on a baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Just before serving, take the chicken from the refrigerator and remove the thighs from the bag and pat dry with paper towels.
- Take a large frying pan, and warm the canola oil briefly on the pan before placing the chicken thighs skin down and cook until golden crispy. This should take from 8-10 minutes, and once completed, the thighs should be turned over and cooked until warm for about 2 minutes. This step should be done in batches to ensure the chicken is cooked thoroughly.
- Transfer the thighs to a plate and cover with aluminum foil. Serve immediately.