Sous vide Chicken Breast with Herbes de Provence

Sous Vide Chicken with Herbs de Provence (14 of 14)

Thanks to sous vide cooking, no longer do you have to tolerate bland and tough chicken breasts.

Chicken breasts are the classic lean muscle-building protein. But don’t get stuck in the routine of pan-frying the breasts, which often results in producing a tough, bland and dry texture.

Tonight, I was feeling rather experimental and had some time to spare. Consequently, I opted to cook chicken breast sous vide style. All it requires is extreme “hands off” patience.

The secret to perfect chicken? Temperature control. The kind of down-to-the-degree type of control that sous vide cooking can attain.

If we’re to believe what our parents told us, chicken should be cooked to a temperature of 165°F; anything below 140°F then you tread into the “danger” zone, the temperature zone in which bacteria supposedly thrives. The ideal temperature for cooking chicken rests between 140-145°F. Once you get pass the 155°F mark, sous-vide chicken starts to take on an unpleasant chalky, tacky texture.

I set up the dial on my Anova precision cooker to 60°C/140°F. Chicken cooked at 140°F has a very tender, extremely juicy texture that is firm and completely opaque. No signs of stringiness or tackiness. It melts between your teeth. At two hours the chicken has a nice resilient chew to it, while retaining its juiciness.

The problem with traditionally cooked chicken is that the meat is penetrated by higher heat from the outside in, making it very difficult to gauge exactly what temperature it is from the edges to the centre. Common sense dictates that we often overcook the outer layers inevitably, leading to that all too familiar dry and stringy texture. Sous vide cooking allows one to control precisely the temperature at which one desires to serve them eat. This effectively means that by the time we’re done, the chicken is cooked perfectly from edge to centre without compromising on its juiciness.

The results? The chicken breast is tender enough to cut with a butter knife and glistens with flavourful juices.

Sous vide chicken with herbes de Provence (1 of 1).jpg

Not your ordinary bland and dry chicken breast.

Sous vide Chicken with Herbes de Provence

INACTIVE TIME: 2 hours | ACTIVE TIME: 4 minutes | SERVES: 1

INGREDIENTS:

  • One chicken breast (palm size)
  • 1 tablespoon of herbes de Provence.
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Sous Vide Chicken with Herbs de Provence (9 of 14)

METHOD:

  1. Preheat precision cooker to 140°F/60°C. Allow the water bath to come to the right temperature before dowsing your chicken in the bag inside.Sous Vide Chicken with Herbs de Provence (7 of 14)
  2. Season the chicken breast with a coating of olive oil followed by the herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Bag the chicken in zip lock bag or vacuum bag (if using).Sous Vide Chicken with Herbs de Provence (3 of 14)Sous Vide Chicken with Herbs de Provence (5 of 14)
  3. Immerse the chicken in the bag into the water bath. It should sink. Set timer to 2 hours. Feel free to run some errands, go for a jog, or take a shower while the chicken is cooking (this is what I mean by “hands-free” cooking).Sous Vide Chicken with Herbs de Provence (8 of 14)
  4. Once time is up, pre-heat a cast iron pan or skillet on medium-high heat, coated with a thin layer of oil. Remove chicken breast from zip lock bag and pat dry. Once oil starts to shimmer, place chicken breast on the pan and hold down flat with a spatula to ensure maximum contact between chicken breast and pan. Pan-fry for 2 minutes on each side to produce a beautiful brown and crisp sear.Sous Vide Chicken with Herbs de Provence (9 of 14)
  5. Once seared, remove chicken from pan and slice to serve. Sous Vide Chicken with Herbs de Provence (10 of 14)Sous Vide Chicken with Herbs de Provence (12 of 14)

Sumac grilled lamb chops with lemon pea mash

Sumac lamb chops with pea mash (1 of 3)

After having disappeared mysteriously for a month (I got caught up with work amongst other things), the girl is back in the kitchen. This time, she is back experimenting with sumac and lamb chops. Some of you may be wondering “what the heck is sumac?”. So before I digress into the finer details of the recipe, let me give you a brief description of what sumac is, its origins, and more importantly, why you should have it in your spice cabinet!

shutterstock_204298135

Sumac is one of the most ancient spices that one should readily have at their disposal

The sumac bush, native to the Middle East, produces deep red berries, which are dried and ground into coarse powder. While it’s less common, the berries may also be sold whole. Ground sumac is a versatile spice with a tangy lemony flavor, although more balanced and less tart than lemon juice. A small sprinkle also adds a beautiful pop of color to any dish.

Sumac is a widely used, essential spice in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. It’s used in everything from dry rubs, marinades, and dressing. But its best use is sprinkled over food before serving.

It’s great over vegetables, grilled lamb, chicken and fish. Ground sumac also makes a nice, flavorful topping on dips like hummus.

Thanks to the recommendation from my Iranian friend (who I highly respect when it comes to the culinary scene), I’ve decided to experiment with sumac and grilled lamb chops tonight. Given how busy I am, in order to save time, I opted to create a quick and simple lemon pea mash as a side. The two complement each other harmoniously, both in flavours and in colours.

INGREDIENTS: (serves one)

  • 2 lamb cutlets
  • 2 teaspoons of sumac
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 knob of butter
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Sea salt

METHOD:

  1. Place cutlets in a non-reactive bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and generously sprinkle sumac, garlic powder, and salt all over.
  2. Sumac lamb chops with pea mash (18 of 18)Cook the peas in a saucepan of boiling water (~1.5 cups) and boil for roughly 10 minutes until soft. Stir in the knob of butter, the lemon juice, and a dash of sea salt.

Sumac lamb chops with pea mash (16 of 18)3. With a potato masher or fork, lightly crush the pea mixture until it resembles a mash.

Sumac lamb chops with pea mash (13 of 18)4. Meanwhile, coat a cast iron pan with olive oil and turn the hob to a high heat. Pan-fry the lamb chops 2-3 minutes on both sides depending on how well done you like your lamb. Cover with foil and set aside for 5 minutes to rest.

Sumac lamb chops with pea mash (12 of 18)5. Layer the pea mash on a plate and stack the lamb chops neatly on top. Serve immediately.

Sumac lamb chops with pea mash (2 of 3)

Sumac lamb chops with pea mash (3 of 18)

Thai Basil Salmon with Brown Rice Spaghetti

Salmon with Brown Rice Spaghetti and Thai Basil (5 of 11)

Friend visiting was allergic to gluten so I gave gluten-free brown rice spaghetti a try today. Verdict: this pasta is a lot stickier than when cooking normal pasta. Luckily though, taste is not compromised and in actual fact, I rather like it (gives it more texture)!

So what exactly is gluten?

Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat and related grains, like barley and rye. Gluten isn’t necessarily bad, but some people are gluten-intolerant, meaning their bodies produce an abnormal immune response when it breaks down gluten from wheat and related grains during digestion. The most well-known form of gluten intolerance is celiac disease, which affects 1 in every 141 people in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health.

When someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, it triggers an immune response that damages their intestines, preventing them from absorbing vital nutrients.

For those gluten intolerant, doctors would typically recommend a gluten-free diet. Patients must avoid eating any foods and ingredients that contains gluten, including bread, beer, french fries, pasta, salad dressing, soy sauce and even some soups (unless otherwise marked as “gluten-free”).

In recent years, however, many people without gluten intolerance have seemed to embark on the fad of the “gluten-free diet”.  Experts express concern that going gluten-free without explicitly needing to could be detrimental to a person’s health as gluten-free foods are often nutrient deficient.

INGREDIENTS (2 servings):

  • Brown rice spaghetti (enough for 2)
  • 280g of salmon sashimi
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes (yellow/red)
  • 1 large bunch of thai basil leaves
  • Handful of green peas (frozen will suffice)
  • 1 lime
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper / fresh chilli (deseeded)

Salmon with Brown Rice Spaghetti and Thai Basil (10 of 11)

METHOD:

1) Boil pasta according to package instructions (~10 minutes for al dente. NB: Brown rice pasta can take longer).

2) In the meantime, prepare the salmon, thai basil leaves and cherry tomatoes. Slice the salmon sashimi into thin slices. Tear off the thai basil leaves from the stems and chop roughly. Slice the cherry tomatoes.

Salmon with Brown Rice Spaghetti and Thai Basil (7 of 11)

3) Slice the garlic and heat sauté pan with olive oil on medium heat. Pan fry the garlic until fragrant (be careful not to burn it!).

Salmon with Brown Rice Spaghetti and Thai Basil (8 of 11)

4) Chuck in the green peas and a teaspoon of salt. Now is the time to throw in the chopped deseeded red chilli (if using fresh) or sprinkle some chilli flakes.

Salmon with Brown Rice Spaghetti and Thai Basil (6 of 11)

5) Check the pasta. Once cooked, drain the pasta in a colander and  pour the contents from the sauté pan into the pasta pot. Throw in the chopped salmon, cherry tomatoes and basil then quickly pour the drained hot pasta back into the same pot and toss with your tongs. The salmon will slowly change colour as it cooks from the heat of the pasta. Add the juice from the fresh lime and toss again.

Salmon with Brown Rice Spaghetti and Thai Basil (2 of 11) Salmon with Brown Rice Spaghetti and Thai Basil (3 of 11)

6) Transfer pasta to bowls/plates and serve whilst warm.

 

Salmon with Brown Rice Spaghetti and Thai Basil (4 of 11)