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.
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
- One chicken breast (palm size)
- 1 tablespoon of herbes de Provence.
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- 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.
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- Once seared, remove chicken from pan and slice to serve.