Friday, July 25, 2014

Simple Sous Vide Chicken Legs

Recently, I'm learning Sous Vide cooking techniques at home. All thanks to Alan for encouraging me and connect me to this awesome Polyscience product. Also, I chance up to have a great lunch at Heston Blumenthal's restaurant on my recent trip to London. I witnessed how they cook my lunch using sous vide techniques!

After I came back from my 3 weeks Europe trip, I tied up my hair, put on my apron, take a deep breath and start exploring my sous vide machine, starting with the most simple recipe. Simple Sous Vide chicken legs, and then I roasted the chicken legs into perfection before serving.


For those who doesn't know what sous vide is - Sous vide (literally under vacuum in French) is one of the most popular modernist cooking techniques. If you've ever heard or watched famous chefs like Thomas Keller and Heston Blumenthal from hit television shows, they are the people who usually seen promoting sous vide cooking on TV.

Sous vide is very different from traditional cooking method. It needs alot of reading and understanding, as conceptually, it can be very difficult. From the various types of sous vide equipment, questions about vacuum sealing, the food science on the safety of sous vide can be quite confusing at the beginning. It takes me quite sometimes to explore and understand sous vide before I finally decided to invest on the equipment a year later. It's expensive! Of course I have to understand a few basics sous vide cooking before I invest on one.

I won't write too much to introduce on sous vide here, because all infos about sous vide is easily available on google. Once you understand a few basics, sous vide cooking is one of the easiest and most foolproof ways to cook. It saves me alot of time preparing my weekday dinner ahead!


My Sous Vide Professional Series machine, clamped on a big and tall stock pot, vacuum sealer made in Italy, vacuum bags, and some basic ingredients.


How simple? I just rubbed the chicken legs with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put the legs into the vacuum bags, add a few dashes of olive oil, throw in a clove of garlic and some thymes. Seal it.

Ingredients
  • 4 Fresh Chicken Legs
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 4 strands of Thymes
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive Oil 
Method
  1. Pat dry chicken legs with kitchen towels. Rub chicken legs with salt and pepper. 
  2. Put the legs into the vacuum bags, add a few dashes of olive oil, throw in a clove of garlic and thymes.
  3. Vacuum seal the bag. Sous vide for 4 hours at 70C. 
  4. To serve : Pre-heat oven at 270C, fan ON.
  5. Gently remove the chicken leg from the vacuum bag. Put the chicken leg into the oven for 10mins.
  6. Remove from oven and serve immediately. Incase if you wants better appearance, you can either leave the chicken leg into the oven for another 3 to 5mins or blowtorch it as a finishing. 
Here, they are all nicely vacuum sealed and ready to go into the water-bath.


Knowing that I need to crisp the chicken leg skin under a very hot oven before serving and thus the meat will be cooked slightly more from sous vide treatment, I sous vide the chicken leg at temperature 70C, which is slightly lower than the desired core temperature (74C).

The actual process of cooking sous vide is simple. You just need to determine the temperature you'd like to cook your food. Press the button, sous vide machine will heat up the water up to that temperature you want. Place the bag of sealed food in the water-bath until it is done.


When they came out of the sous vide waterbath, there are two options :

1st Options (To eat immediately)
  1. Slightly pat dry the chicken leg with paper towels. Remove garlic and thymes. 
  2. Put the chicken legs into a very hot oven and roast for 10mins or upto 15mins. Or as I mentioned above, blowtorch up to it's perfection. 
2nd Option (To Keep)
  1. Prepare a large bowl of ice-cubed water. Remove the vacuum sealed chicken legs from the water bath. Shock in cold by putting the bags into the ice water until the chicken legs are completely cooled. 
  2. Place the chicken legs bags into the freezers and freeze away. 
  3. To serve - Put the frozen bags of chicken legs into the sous vide machine with the same setting (70C) and let it sous vide for about 30mins (or more) while you pre-heat your oven.
  4. Repeat 1st Options steps.
Blow-torching your food is another awesome cooking method. If you are trying to get your guys to help out more in the kitchen? Buy a blowtorch. No kidding. I know blowtorch isn't really necessary, but it does make the process easier (and way more fun for the guys). It browned the meat very well :)


The thing about sous vide is that the temperature should ideally be the exact temperature you want the food to be when it is done. The result is a piece of meat that has retained the maximum amount of its juices, while still being done. It's an astonishing technique, but all my rambling has done miraculously little to convince anyone. Not many friends around me is into sous vide actually. Even my mother-in-law gave me the weird look when she first saw what I'm doing. I can understand that. Sous vide is not common in Asia tho.

Prepare some salad to go along. I did mine simple. Some Oak Leaves Salad, dressed with Balsamico di Modena. No fuss!


The appearance of the meat on the photo doesn't speak how good it is. Instead of stringy tough (I mean overcooked), the knife can effortlessly cut through the meat. The chicken leg is cooked juuuuust nice! This is a simple recipe that requires very minimum ingredients. But if you'd tried this, it's enough to make anyone convert.


Max ate the chicken leg happily. My only questions was whether was it the cook (me) or the machine? When I tasted the chicken meat, obviously the machine had a hand in what happened.

To say the food that came out of the machine tasted good, is something of an understatement.

I'm still a noob in sous vide cooking. More to explore, more to learn. Do share with me if you are into sous vide. I'm looking forward to make improvement.

4 comments:

  1. Hi Annie! I first learnt about sous vide cooking from these two blogs - Extra Virgin Chef (Luan Ee) and Chef and Sommelier (Alvin See). I thought it was quite interesting but was apprehensive about the use of plastic to encase the food while it is cooking. So far, I have not decided yet on the sous vide machine. But I am quite impressed with your chicken legs!

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  2. Thanks Phong Hong. It is indeed impressive. However, it also depends so much on your lifestyle :)

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  3. This is my first time knowing about sous vide. Thanks for sharing! Like Phong Hong said, some may still skeptic about the use of plastic in cooking but other than that, the chicken leg should be pretty juicy and well-done from inside to outside.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Waco, This method is widely used by fellow chefs in the world. The plastic bags used for Sous Vide must be food-safe certified. Food safety is very important. I'm equally worried before I invest on Sous Vide. The bags that I bought from ToTT Store have been third party tested and verified to be free of BPA, lead, polyethylene and any phthalates.

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