A perfectly cooked chicken breast. BUT HOW?
Raw chicken is absolutely disgusting. The bone-in, skin-on cuts are a complete horror show, but frankly, any raw chicken is gross. A plain old raw chicken breast sitting there all slimy, pale pink and… hold up… gulp… I need to change the subject.
If I was in charge, I’d live life as if raw chicken didn’t even exist, but I married the one person in the world worse at cooking than myself. (Love you, Kelly.) So I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to avoid touching the stuff while also trying to prepare it deliciously for my growing family. And up until recently, I was failing. I was usually over cooking it because uncooked chicken is terrifying, and no matter what I did, it just never came close to restaurant-quality chicken. But LO!
Enter sous vide. Perhaps you’ve heard of it; perhaps you haven’t. Today, though, I’m going to explain what it is and show you how to do it inexpensively.
What is sous vide?
Properly cooked chicken is delicious and it hits on nearly every millennial dieting craze. It’s low-carb and high-protein… and potentially free-range, locally sourced and ethically clucked. (Have I mentioned that my little brother is a chicken farmer? He’s going to think I’m a complete wuss if he reads this.) But yeah: it’s the perfect food! To boot, it’s inexpensive and freezes without quality loss.
And it tastes incredible when you use a particular technique to cook it.
Yes, this is that weird plastic bag cooking machine and no, the plastic isn’t going to poison you. Sous vide is French for under vacuum and I agree that it’s a terrible name for this method of cooking. In my opinion, it should be called a water oven. “Water oven” is such a dope name. It sparks intrigue! “Sous vide” just sparks confusion. And definitely no joy.
The benefits of Sous vide include super simple “prep, set and forget” capabilities and delicious results. Just hear me out, okay?
When cooking traditionally, we typically annihilate our food with high temperatures in the hopes of raising internal temps to a desirable range. Whether you’re pan-frying a steak, grilling a burger, or roasting a Thanksgiving turkey, what you often end up with is a stressed chef, a messy kitchen and overcooked meat. And if you’re anything like me and your phone buzzes after you put dinner on the stove and then your daughter spills paint all over the table which isn’t that big of a deal because I want her to be creative and I’m not mad but it’s just a huge mess oh no Noodle needs to go outside it’s fine I’ll clean up the paint when I get back oh crap the kitchen’s on fire, you could probably use a little help.
Sous vide cooking solves all these problems.
Yes, it looks bizarre. Yes, you’ll need a thermal immersion circulator which is totally dorky. And yes, your wife will make fun of you the whole time. But the benefits outweigh the costs. The Sous vide method of cooking brings the entire cut of meat to optimal temperature without any overcooking and very little effort on the chef’s part. It can turn a frozen chicken breast into a restaurant-quality meal with about 30 seconds of prep time. There’s no other way to put it: it’s miraculous.
Mitch’s step-by-step (day-by-day 🎶) sous vide guide
- Buy meat.
- Put meat in a ziplock freezer bag (Must be “freezer” bag.)
- Mix your best spices and marinade or whatever in the bag. (I used Italian dressing, Herb de Province and black pepper here.)
- Remove the air from the bag like this.
- Place bag and immersion cooker in a water basin.
- Set your temperature and walk away, Homey.
- Come back when you’re hungry.
- Sear meat to taste.
The chicken you see here took about 30 seconds to prepare. It bathed in the cooker for three hours at 150 degrees while I was running errands, and it seared in a skillet for a minute per side. (And yes, I changed my shirt during this time because Emma spilled milk all over me.) The meat came out perfectly cooked throughout with no overdone or underdone sections, and the result is the ideal chicken breast with top-notch texture and flavor in each bite. Reduce the drippings over medium heat on the stove as a glaze, and I’m telling you, the result will drop your jaw.
On first bite, Kelly went into a bit of a delirium. Granted, she’s pregnant and is loving food lately, but she literally said, “This is RESTAURANT-QUALITY CHICKEN, MITCH!” Not pictured in this post is the whole family devouring this chicken breast in the middle of the kitchen. It was weird but oh so good.
Noodle wants to know whether you’re convinced yet. Also, she would like
a bite all the chicken.
I really can’t tell you how much I love sous vide. Heck, I wrote a whole post on my wife’s blog about it. But really: it’s a great way to get a home-cooked meal on the table if you’re short on time or would rather be spending your time with friends, your significant other or your family. It’s also very fun if you’re into gadgets like I am. :)
I hope you try it! Here’s everything you need. The cooker that I’m using is a couple of years old, which is why it’s not available via Prime, but I’ve linked to the newer versions above. Let me know if you guys have any questions; happy to help!