Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sous Vide Chicken Breasts: Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette

Sous Vide Chicken Breasts:
Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette
Serves: 4
Difficulty: Moderate
Sous Vide Temp: 140 – 147 degree F; Time: 2-5 hours
Sous Vide Chicken Breasts:
Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette
This is the first of a duo of posts on chicken sous vide! Coming soon...a white wine and herb sauce.

A chicken breast is often the first thing a novice sous vide cook tries. It will truly convert you because it produces a chicken breast that is opaque all the way through without any of the striations and without the dry texture of an overcooked chicken breast.  You end up with a perfectly cooked, super juicy piece of meat. I have found little difference between chicken cooked bone-in vs. bone-off. With traditional cooking, the bone helps insulate meat from high cooking temperatures. Not a problem with sous vide.  I chose boneless in this duo of recipes for presentation purposes.  Please see my “All about sous vide” post to get some background on this technique (http://cookingwithlarue.blogspot.com/2015/06/all-about-sous-vide.html#more).

When I unsealed the bag and placed the chicken on a plate, it was one of the most unappealing sights you can imagine. Pale chicken, jellied around its edges, and with a texture that felt like it was still raw. But a temperature probe confirmed that it was done and a small cut proved that the flesh was perfectly white throughout. Don’t worry; we can fix that by searing it at the end!

For home cooks, one of sous vide's major benefits is that it requires less fat. Because "low and slow" cooking preserves the juiciness of meats and fish, even normally dry items like boneless, skinless chicken breast emerges juicy and velvety from the sous vide cooker. Flavor and juice can't escape from the plastic bags in which the food is sealed, so even a tiny amount of butter or olive oil infuses the other ingredients.

Conversely, once you remove the chicken from the water bath you can use the pre-cooked chicken in any number of typical chicken preparations. You can coat the chicken breast with flour and quickly deep fry it for moist fried chicken. You can cover it with a spice rub and quickly pan fry it for a great-blackened chicken to use on a Caesar salad or with beans and rice. Or you can just throw it on the grill for a minute on each side and brush BBQ sauce on it for a great BBQ chicken. This time I am sharing one of two quick and easy sauces you can use with the chicken breasts….your choice!
  • 4 skin-on boneless chicken breasts, 6-8 ounces each
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Thyme
  • 1 Tb canola or vegetable oil
For Sun-dried Tomato Vinaigrette:
  • 1 large poblano pepper
  • ½ C oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained & chopped into ¼” pieces
  • 2 Tb reserved oil from sun-dried tomato jar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ½ tsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp hot sauce
  • 3 Tb freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tb minced fresh mint leaves
  • 1 medium shallot
Preheat sous vide water pot to 140 degree F. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper. Place in sous vide bags with a sprig of thyme. As I use a Ziploc bag and displacement method, I place one breast per bag – usually quart size.  If you are using a vacuum sealer, it is possible to seal multiple breasts into one bag as long as they lie flat and do not double up. 
Chicken with a sprig of thyme

Once in bag, seal closed. When using Ziploc bags, I often clip bags to side of pan. Cook in sous vide bath for at least 2 hours and up to 5 hours. Meanwhile make the vinaigrette.
Ready for sous vide in the Ziploc bag

Chicken in the bags and now cooking....

When ready to eat, remove chicken from bags and carefully but completely dry on paper towels. Let it sit 3-5 min to assure it is completely dry.
Totally unappetizing chicken until browned (see below)
Add oil to heavy-bottomed non-stick pan or cast iron skillet large enough to hold chicken comfortably in single layer. Heat over medium-high heat until oil shimmers and begins to smoke. Carefully add chicken to hot oil skin-side down and cook until brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes. Turn, and quickly hear other side about 30 seconds. 
Mmmmm, now looks MUCH better!

Transfer to a large plate, top with sauce or vinaigrette and serve. You and your guests will be amazed how flavorful and juicy a boneless chicken breast can be!

For Sun-dried Tomato Vinaigrette:
Set burner to high heat and place poblano pepper directly on flame. Cook until completely blackened, turning as needed with tongs, about 5 minutes total. 
Poblana peppers

Place in covered container or paper bag to steam until skin is loosened, about 4 minutes. Carefully peel skin under cool running water. Remove stem, ribs and seeds. 
....and sliced

Cut into ¼” dice and combine with sun-dried tomatoes, their oil, honey, soy sauce, hot sauce, lemon juice, mint leaves and shallot. Whisk to combine. Taste for seasoning. Set aside at room temperature until ready to serve.
Shallots for vinaigrette
Beautiful presentation for the vinaigrette
I really hope you give this a try….it is truly amazing.


For a complete description/instruction on Sous Vide cooking, see my post: http://cookingwithlarue.blogspot.com/2015/06/all-about-sous-vide.html#more

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