Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sous Vide Sunday Chicken - Spicy Orange and Cilantro Brine

Last Tuesday I overhead two clients engaging in food related discussion. Understand that in my line of work, food is the devil. "I ate too much last night".  Or, "I'm going to pay for that buffet on Saturday".  And the ubiquitous, "I can't seem to drop the 5, 8 10, or 35 pounds......too much good food!" Yet the current conversation had the makings of a positive food experience: "the chicken at Flinchy's was the most tender and moist I had ever eaten. I don't know what they do to it. They have got to have some trick up their sleeve that we don't know about. I've never had chicken like that".

I don't know the secrets of a restaurant kitchen. I'm guessing they cook their chicken to the appropriate temperature. Perhaps they place it in a brine for a few hours to enhance it's juicyness. Do they sous vide? I doubt it.

I have never done chicken via sous vide. Usually I toss it into a skillet and roast at 350 degrees until crisp and juicy. This normally works fine.

Could sous vide elevate above the comfortable simplicity of an oven roasted chicken?

Let's find out.

First I brined it in a quick brine modified from  Michael Ruhlman.

Quick Brine

  • 15 oz water
  • 100g salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1/2 orange, quartered
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Fresh cilantro
  • 15 oz ice
Combine ingredients (except ice) and boil.  Let steep for 10 minutes off heat. Pour brine over ice. Pour over 3-4 pounds worth of chicken parts. Keep at room temp for 2-3 hours.

Then discard the brine and thoroughly rinse the chicken. Seal in plastic bag and vacuum pack. Lower into 147 degree water bath for 2 hours.

I'll be the first to admit that sous vide chicken, (steak, pork, and fish included) looks pale and unappetizing. To remedy, a hot pan and some coconut oil. Sear the outside, make a quick pan gravy, and get ready to plate.

Orange and cilantro brined chicken cooked sous vide and served with a cauliflower and poblano pepper gratin. 

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