I know, I know, this is a technology website, and we are starting off with cooking? These days technology is invading more and more areas of our lives, and hopefully we are taking advantage of this great evolution of products!
This is my first post and will include some information as to why I do things certain ways, usually in an effort to speed the process up. I am hoping that some of the techniques I have adopted can save you time and effort as well!
Today we are going to look at a new tool in the kitchen that I absolutely love! Let's see with a few bullet points why this device is so awesome! ;)
- Easy Cleanup - actually there isn't any cleanup! Everything is sealed in vacuum or Ziploc bags which you can simply toss.
- Very Accurate - you can't mess up the cook times - Well maybe if you forgot it for multiple HOURS, but minutes won't hurt you here. Have you ever shared a recipe with a friend only to have it turn out differently due to oven temperature variance or elevation? Those are not concerns with this cooking method.
- Fast - OK, when I say fast I should clarify the cooking might take a bit longer than traditional methods, but it is hands off! You can definitely go take care of other chores while the food is cooking. The fast part comes in when you have your prep done and you simply place a food pouch in and set a timer! For those techies, you can definitely use the app on your phone and monitor the cook remotely!
So how does this funny looking sous-vide contraption work?
Sous-vide is French for "under vacuum". I know many have used the Food-Savers products, or at least heard about them. I remember seeing vacuum sealers on demonstration at Costco before and they are nifty machines for preserving food. For those that don't know about vacuum sealing technologies, look for my upcoming post where we will discuss the vacuum sealers in greater detail.
When it comes to sous-vide you don't necessarily have to vacuum sealer. Many times you can use a simple food-grade freezer style bag, Ziplock makes these products and you can find them in any grocery store! For those of you thinking about getting started with this new technique, I urge you to get the machine and start right away with Ziplock, you can always upgrade to a good vacuum sealer later!
Lets get started with a real world example from my kitchen:
- 2 Chicken Breasts
- 67 grams Dijion Mustard (1/4 Cup)
- 74 grams All Natural Honey (1/4 cup)
- 10 grams Olive Oil (1 Tbps)
- 2 sprigs of rosemary (Optional if you don't have fresh herbs around)
- Pepper/salt to taste
Grams what are those?
The largest problem I have with measuring cups is that they are just messy! When I made this recipe for the first time I ended up with a bunch of measuring cups that needed a good washing. I switched out the measuring cups after purchasing:
Once I had a scale, it is simple enough to place a clear bowl on the scale and tare (by hitting the zero button the scale, the weight of the bowl is removed). Once I have a scale with a 0 showing, I can simply pour in Dijon Mustard until the scale reaches the appropriate number and then tare again! Following this simple loop I can quickly get the marinade into a bowl and use no measuring cups, which means a faster cleanup! Woot!
So what I have some sauce, now what?
Ok here is the easy part, take your chicken and salt/pepper to taste and slip the breasts into a bag. Then you can use the water displacement method with a Ziplock bag, or use your vacuum sealer assuming it can handle liquids in the bag (more on this when we discuss vacuum sealers)
When using Ziplock bags, it is still very important to remove the air from the bag before submerging it in the sous vide. This can be done by slowly lowering the bag with the chicken and marinade into water. The water pushes the air from the bag, and JUST before you submerge the top STOP. Carefully seal the Ziplock bag and seal all your wonderful chicken goodness in!
Now that you have your chicken in marinade and sealed into a bag, you can hold onto that in the fridge until you need it, be sure to not leave raw chicken in there longer than allowed by food safety authorities.
Now, if you are cooking it right away you can go right ahead, although I prefer to let it sit in the fridge for about 2 hours minimum. The final step is to set the temp on the sous vide for 150 Degrees F, and let it cook for a minimum of 1.5 hours. You can leave it in there for up to 3 hours without changing the texture too drastically.
Congratulations on cooking chicken that is not over cooked! The next step is to think about the flavor and texture you achieved. The amazing part of sous vide cooking is that you can make that chicken taste the same exactly every single time. That sort of consistency is what restaurants can only hope to achieve!
Even better you can now adjust the temperature and cooking times, again refer to safe cooking duration recommendations. What I mean by adjust, is that you can pick how tender or stringy (as chicken gets most of the time in traditional cooking methods), and write down the temperature and time to achieve your perfect chicken. Another great aspect is that anyone can follow your steps without assistance and end up with the same result as you, since we are cooking with the temperature of water!
I know that not all of you will love my simple recipe given that everyone's taste buds are different, but I challenge you to come up with a better combinations of flavors and temperature for cooking chicken. Let me know what you achieve!