COOKING SOUS-VIDE: TWO TAKES ON CHICKEN THIGHS

I am still having fun and getting more and more comfortable with my Anova sous-vide gadget. Many recipes tried, some will go un-blogged due to photos that did not turn out well. A lobster tail, for instance, was quite spectacular cooked sous-vide, but the pictures did the recipe no justice whatsoever.  I shall re-visit that in the future to share the method in the Bewitching.  But here I am today to show you two ways to deal with chicken thighs. The first preparation uses boneless and skinless pieces, a departure from the classic Chicken Cacciatore that I found on this site, great source for sous-vide cooking tips and recipes. Before I share my recipes, I invite you to take a look at this recent post  from my friend Maureen, at The Orgasmic Chef.  Beautiful caramelized onions, without having to stand by the stove baby-sitting them.  She got her sous-vide toy not too long ago, so I guess we are both newbies at this. Sous-vide sisters!

chicken-cacciatore11

 

CHICKEN CACCIATORE
(slightly adapted from SVKitchen)
 .
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 can (28.2-ounce) cherry tomatoes  (or regular canned tomatoes, coarsely chopped)
¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus extra for final garnish
4 tablespoons mascarpone
Salt and pepper to taste (about ½ teaspoon each)
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
 .
Preheat the water bath to 152°F (67°C).
 .
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and add the shallot and garlic. Cook until soft and translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes, being careful not to brown. Remove the pan from the heat and add the tomatoes, stirring to combine. Gently stir in the basil and the mascarpone. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool slightly.
 .
When the sauce has cooled, place about a third in a 1-gallon zip-lock bag. Add 3 of the chicken thighs. Add another third of the sauce, the other 3 thighs, and then the remaining sauce. Seal using the water displacement method.
 .
Cook for 2 to 4 hours.
.
If serving immediately, transfer the chicken and sauce to a oven-proof dish or ramekin large enough to easily hold all the ingredients. Heat a broiler to high. Place the casserole under the broiler for a couple of minutes, watching closely, just to brown the sauce.
.
ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

served1

Dinner is served! Chicken sous-vide, spaghetti squash, and roasted asparagus…

And now, for a second method, in which the chicken thighs are cooked with skin and bone-in. As the sous-vide will cook the meat perfectly but leave you with mushy skin, all recipes include a final step to crisp the skin up. If you search the net, you’ll certainly stumble on a recipe by Michael Voltaggio that is described by many as “the best chicken thigh ever”. I tried it, I really did, and the mess it made on my stove left me on the verge of tears.  Plus, the whole house smelled like fried chicken for weeks.  Ok,  for 18 hours. Chicken thighs were not going to meet the Anova gadget for as long as I was in charge of cooking.  But, certain ordeals tend to be forgotten as time goes by.  Since I really liked the texture of the meat, I decided to give it another try, using a very hot oven for the final step of crisping up the skin.  Worked like a charm!  The inspiration came from this cookbook by Jason Logsdon, which I own in its Kindle version, but I modified the recipe quite a bit, so I feel ok about sharing it with you. In his version, he crisps the skin on a cast iron pan, evidently, I didn’t.

Neat-freak + Drama-Queen = Cast-Iron-Repudiation

RoastedTomatoSalsa

CHICKEN THIGHS WITH ROASTED TOMATO SALSA
(inspired by Sous-Vide Help for the Busy Cook)

for the chicken:
6 chicken thighs, bone-in
salt and pepper to taste
New Mexico chile powder
1 lemon, juiced

for the tomato salsa:
7 Roma tomatoes, very ripe
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
dried thyme, about 1 teaspoon
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Prepare the roasted tomatoes in advance, they will keep for several days. Cut the tomatoes in half, mix them with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast in a 325 F oven for 2 hours. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate.

Set your Anova or other sous-vide apparatus at 148 F. Remove excess skin and fat from the chicken thighs. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle chile powder, and squeeze a little lemon juice over the flesh. Place inside plastic bags and vacuum-seal, three pieces of chicken per bag. Place in the water-bath and cook for a minimum of 2 hours. I like to cook chicken thighs for 5 to 6 hours.

Turn your oven to 450 F.  Remove the chicken pieces from the bags, pat dry.  Place in a baking dish and roast until the skin is brown and crispy to your liking. You can also run them under the broiler for a few minutes if you prefer.  As the chicken roasts, transfer the previously prepared tomatoes to a skillet, cook for a couple of minutes,  add the vinegar, brown sugar, and adjust the seasoning.  Mash the tomatoes lightly with a potato masher or a fork if you like it chunky.  You can also transfer to a blender or food processor, if so inclined.  I prefer my salsa to be on the chunky side.

Serve the crisped up chicken pieces with the salsa alongside.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Crisped

Comments:  So as I promised, here you have two completely different takes on the same type of meat using the Anova sous-vide. If you want to enjoy a saucy, stew-type meal, go for boneless chicken thighs, cooking them in liquid from the beginning. Obviously, in this case you’ll need to use the water displacement method, as vacuum won’t be feasible.  If crispy skin is more what you are looking forward to, season the pieces with dry rubs, and use your oven in the end. The meat will be perfectly tender, very moist, and the skin super crispy.

platedDinner is served!  Chicken sous-vide, cauliflower-spinach puree, and a salad…

I highly recommend Jason Logsdon’s book “Sous-Vide Help for the Busy Cook”.  The recipes are all geared for people who work all day and want to maximize the use of sous-vide to get a nice meal at dinner time.  The main advantage of this cooking method is the flexibility of timing: if you are late to arrive home from work, no problem, two or three more hours at the target temperature will not affect your dish.  Seafood is a bit more delicate and you should probably save that for weekends or weeknights in which you have a couple of hours to devote to dinner preparation.

compositetomatoes
I cannot resist including this photo of my oven-roasted tomatoes, they were absolutely delicious, with intense flavor, but not the unpleasant texture I find in most commercially available sun-dried tomatoes.   In Jason’s recipe, he uses a quicker method to deal with the tomatoes, so if you are at all interested, stop by amazon.com and click away!   ;-)

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CHIARELLO’S CHICKEN CACCIATORE

Last week’s winner meal in our home, two thumbs up from both of us, this recipe is a bit unusual for a “cacciatore,” as it contains very few ingredients, and omits the traditional peppers and onions that most versions are loaded with.  Two little twists in the recipe:  the use of porcini mushrooms and the way it handles the parsley.  Normally, parsley is added at the end of cooking to preserve its freshness, but in this case Chiarello adds most of it right at the initial stage, and saves some for sprinkling on top of the dish at serving time.  My main modification, as often happens with braised chicken thighs, was to increase cooking time by a long shot.

CHICKEN CACCIATORE PRONTO
(from Michael Chiarello – Casual Cooking)

1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
1 cup hot water
6 chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons finely chopped Italian  parsley
3/4 cup tomato puree
1/2 cup  chicken broth
1/2 cup water

Place the dried porcini mushrooms in a small bowl or glass, and add the hot water. Leave them sitting in the water for 30 minutes.  Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon; finely chop. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth to catch any dirt or solids, and reserve.

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil on a large skillet, add the chicken, skin sides down; cook 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown, turn and cook the other side for 3 to 4 minutes.  Transfer chicken to a platter; remove all but 1 tablespoon of oil from skillet.

Add garlic to oil in skillet; cook over medium heat about 30 seconds, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the parsley; cook for a minute, stir in mushrooms, tomato puree, chicken broth, 1/2 cup water and reserved mushroom liquid; heat to a simmer. Add chicken, skin sides up; reduce heat to low. Cover; cook until done to your liking (I cooked for 50  minutes in a very gentle heat, turning the pieces a couple of times during cooking, ending with them skin side up).

Transfer chicken to a serving platter. Increase heat for sauce to high; boil sauce 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. To serve, spoon sauce over chicken; sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

(click to enlarge the images)

Dried porcini mushrooms are one of my favorite ingredients. They wait patiently inside the bag, and once you add warm water, they soak it, turn all soft, and fill your kitchen with that intense mushroom-y smell that is a sure sign of a fantastic meal ahead.   Michael Chiarello hit the jackpot when he combined porcini and parsley, in  a sort of minimalist approach that needs nothing else to shine.   According to his recipe, you only need to cook the thighs for 20 to 25 minutes.  I always go for a “falling off the bone” tenderness, and that is not even close to happening in less than half an hour. Use your own favorite method.

This was a very tasty recipe, perfect to make ahead for entertaining.  We enjoyed it with some orecchiette soaked in the cacciatore’s sauce, and stove-top blasted broccoli.

For another version of this delicious dish, jump to Rufu’s blog clicking here

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