I’ve heard great things about cooking sous-vide. Things like: “best chicken ever” or ”scrambled eggs as delicious as custard” or “brussels sprouts that taste like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups“. Okay, I actually haven’t heard that last one, but if I had and it were true, I would buy up all the brussels sprouts in the county!
Honestly, until tonight, I had never considered sous-vide as a method I could use. It always seemed to me to be one of those stuffy, out-of-your-element-Donny methods…you know, the kind someone might try on Masterchef to impress the judges, only to fail miserably. Plus, I’d heard you needed a sous-vide machine to truly make it work, one that constantly regulated water temperature and provided a vacuum sealed bag.
Sous-vide is a method of cooking food sealed in airtight plastic bags in a water bath…at an accurately determined temperature much lower than normally used for cooking. The intention is to cook the item evenly, while not overcooking the outside and still keeping the inside at a uniform temperature, thereby keeping the food juicier.
Then I remembered that it’s a method that has been around longer than electronically controlled water heaters or space age food vacuums. So I figure that, with the help of the Internet, I could figure this dog out and maybe learn a trick or two.
Here’s what I learned: one, you can do this on your stove top; two, you’ll need a thermometer to gauge your water temperature; and three, don’t try this if you haven’t got the time to pay attention, as you’ll need to really figure out your stove’s heater elements. Electric ranges are very difficult to adjust to get a precise temperature, but with perseverance, it can be done. And the food is succulent and delicious. The proteins do not toughen, and the cells do not rupture, thanks to the lower temperatures.
This recipe is very simple. I used a pot of water, three ziploc baggies, and a thermometer. It took me a good 20 minutes to figure out just where to dial in my heat to achieve 150 degrees F, but once I had it, I actually was able to leave the room for the remainder of the cooking time, only checking back every so often to make sure my heat was consistent.
2 boneless chicken breasts, approx 8oz each, thawed
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Bring a pot of water to 150˚F. This may take some time, but you want to water to stay at this temperature, so adjust accordingly.
Place each breast in a separate ziploc baggie. Season each with 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
Using a straw, remove all the air from the bag that you possibly can. Seal shut.
Place the bags in the water bath. Let them cook for approximately 70 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cut.
Remove from water, sear 20 seconds each side in a hot pan (to give it a bit of color), drizzle with a touch of olive oil, and serve with accompaniments.
My wife absolutely loved the chicken. She thought it was the best chicken she’s ever tasted, which is a huge compliment, considering chicken and turkey are about the only meats she eats.
This is just a basic master recipe. I want to play around with other seasonings and marinades. You should, too. Let me know what works.