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sous vide essentials: lemon chicken

Recipe by
Andy Anderson !
Wichita, KS

I started cooking Sous Vide many years ago, when I was working at a restaurant in Naples, Italy. Europeans were into Sous Vide many years before it was introduced on this side of the pond. Yet, even though they were available, the machines were so big, bulky, and expensive the only folks who could afford to use them were restaurants. Not anymore… Today they are small, and more than affordable for the home chef. In this recipe, we will make a yummy, perfectly cooked chicken breast, and talk about Sous Vide cooking. So, you ready… Let’s get into the kitchen.

yield 1 - 2
prep time 10 Min
cook time 2 Hr
method No-Cook or Other

Ingredients For sous vide essentials: lemon chicken

  • 1 lg
    chicken breast, boneless, skinless
  • 1 lg
  • 1 tsp
    dill, dried
  • 1/2 Tbsp
    sweet butter, unsalted
  • salt, kosher variety, to taste
  • black pepper, freshly ground, to taste
  • additional spices, to taste
  • a few capers
  • a wee bit of wine

How To Make sous vide essentials: lemon chicken

  • 1
  • 2
    To pull this recipe off, you will need a sous vide machine. If you already have one, splendid. However, if you do not, I have a sneaking suspicion that you will not run out and buy one just for this recipe. With that said, a Sous Vide machine opens up a whole new culinary experience for you. The one that I use is the “Anova Culinary” | Sous Vide Precision Cooker. You can check them out at Amazon. In addition, you will need a Ziploc sealable bag, or a vacuum sealer. I love my vacuum sealer… Not only is it great in Sous Vide cooking, but it is great storing and saving all kinds of foods. The one I use is the “FoodSaver” brand. Very reliable. You can also check them out at Amazon.
  • 3
    So, what exactly is Sous Vide cooking? I call Sous Vide, “Cooking in a Jacuzzi.” Think about it. You have a big pot of hot water with a pump to keep it circulating… sounds like a Jacuzzi to me. Sous Vide is not complicated at all; it is just a different way of cooking, than you may be used to performing. Sous Vide, pronounced ‘sue veed’ is a French term that translates to “under vacuum.” In cooking, it is basically the technique of vacuum-sealing food in a plastic bag and submerging it into a temperature-controlled water bath for a predetermined amount of time. That’s about it. In the case of our chicken breast, we will prep the chicken by seasoning, adding herbs or a sauce, vacuum seal and we are ready to go. You can keep the sealed bags in the fridge if using in the next day or two, or freeze them for later use. Then, fire up the Sous Vide machine, set the proper temperature, and come back when it is ready. If cooking frozen, add one hour to the cook time.
  • 4
    It is all about Temperature and Time: If we are to believe the government (and we all know that the government speaks ex cathedra), the magic number for the extermination of bad microorganisms is 165f (74c). So, if you cook a chicken breast to that precise temperature, all bugs instantly die a horrible death. Unfortunately, that temperature is really too much for a chicken breast, and they wind up coming out a bit on the arid side. So, we do things like brining, but that adds sodium to the chicken, and some people do not want, nor need the added salt. Do we take a chance on getting sick by cooking at a lower temperature, or do we just deal with dry chicken? To answer that question, we must return to the government. What the government is not telling you is that killing the bad bugs is a function of two things: temperature and time. I call the magic number, 165f (74c), the nuclear option. One second at that temperature, and those nasty bugs are dead, dead, dead. But what if we cooked that chicken at a lower temperature, for a longer period of time? And THAT is where Sous Vide comes into the picture.
  • 5
    Take a look at this chart, based on the USDA's website: Temperature- Time to Kill Bugs 136°F (58°C) 68.4 minutes 140°F (60°C) 27.5 minutes 145°F (63°C) 9.2 minutes 150°F (66°C) 2.8 minutes 155°F (68°C) 47.7 seconds 160°F (71°C) 14.8 seconds 165°F (74°C) Instant The temperatures on the left represent the temp of the Sous Vide bath water, and the time on the right represents the amount of time it takes, at that temp, to kill the bugs. So, If I set my Sous Vide machine to 136f (58c), once the chicken breast hits that temperature, 68.4 minutes, later the bugs will be dead. However, just to be sure, I will leave it in the water bath an additional hour. Although that temperature is perfectly safe, I do not like the mouth feel of chicken cooked that low, and another function of temperature is creating a firmer structure to the chicken breast. So, we are going to use 145f (63c). If unfrozen, it will take about 30 – 45 minutes for the chicken to get to that temperature, and we will leave it in the bath another hour or so. If you are using frozen chicken, add an additional hour to the cook time. It is a balancing act, between temperature and time. So, why does not the government talk more about temperature and time? Because they feel that to the average person it is too much information. “You mean I have to deal with temperature AND time? That is too much information. I will just cook to 165f (74c) and be done with it.” This is not rocket science folks, it is good cooking… Full Stop
  • 6
    Can You Overcook Chicken in Sous Vide? It is hard to overcook chicken; however, anything is possible. For example, our chicken breast will be cooked at 145f (63c) in a time window of 2 – 4 hours. However, the longer a piece of chicken sits at a given temperature, the more it breaks down, and the softer it becomes. So, if you left it in the Sous Vide machine for 8 hours it would still be edible, but probably would not taste very good. Mushy is the word that comes to mind.
  • 7
    Gather your ingredients (mise en place).
  • 8
    Place your Sous Vide machine in a pot of water, set the temp to 145f (63c), then allow it to get to temperature, about 10 – 15 minutes.
  • 9
    Cut the lemon in half, then take one half and cut into slices, and squeeze the other half into a small bowl.
  • 10
    Sprinkle the chicken with the salt, pepper and dill, then top with the lemon slices. Add the butter, and lemon juice, then seal.
  • 11
    Chef’s Tip: If you do a lot of Sous Vide cooking you may want to get yourself a vacuum sealer; however, there is another way. Simply take a Ziploc bag, put all the ingredients in, and remove as much air as possible before sealing. Water Displacement Method: Getting all the air out of Ziploc bags is easy. You just place your food in the bag, including any liquids or marinades, and seal all but one corner. Then, place it in the water bath, being sure everything below the zip-line is covered by water. The pressure of the water will help to force the air out of the bag. Then seal the rest of the bag. If you find that your bag wants to float, simply use a big clip, and clip the bag to the side of the pot.
  • 12
    Set it and forget it. Add the bag to the Sous Vide machine and come back in 2 hours.
  • 13
  • So yummy
    Remove from the bath, open the bag, and serve on a salad, or as a main dish with mash taters and broccoli. I sliced it and laid it on a bed of pasta with a creamy parmesan sauce. Enjoy.
  • Stud Muffin
    Keep the faith, and keep cooking.