If woot.com and Amazon.com were a mall, my husband would be a teenage girl on a Saturday afternoon. One could say that he has a mildly concerning shopping problem. So I was not surprised to come home recently to find a vacuum sealer on my dining room table. Given the number of hours I have dedicated to watching cooking shows, I immediately knew what to do with this new toy: sous vide!
For those of you who are slightly less obsessed with food than I am and may not be familiar with this technique, sous vide is a method of cooking food in an airtight plastic bag in lukewarm water for a long time. Sounds gross and boring, doesn’t it? I don’t have any fancy equipment, like an immersion circulator, that the pros, use so I used a regular saucepan and a food thermometer. For my first attempt, I bought chicken because I didn’t want to ruin anything more expensive than that. I had pretty low expectations. Boy, was I wrong.
I found temperature and cooking time guidelines online, and away I went! I started by sprinkling salt, pepper and chile powder to boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I vacuum sealed them (a process that was far more fun than it should have been!) and put them in the fridge for a couple hours. When I was ready, I plunged the entire plastic bag into water I had barely warmed on the stove. I worried about the plastic melting where it was in contact with the sides of the pan, but it was fine. After adjusting the gas a few times, I finally stabilized the water temperature at 160 degrees (farenheit), and cooked the chicken for 2 hours. When I took it out of the plastic bag, it fell apart beautifully. I wanted to sear it to give it a little bit of a crispiness, and I added some barbecue sauce to the hot pan at the end. It was the most tender chicken I have ever eaten in my life.
Hopefully the chicken wings I am sous-viding tonight are as successful. I’ll let you know. And if Chuck wants to keep shopping like a teenager, he’s got my full support.