Wednesday, November 07, 2007

To Sous-Vide and Beyond!

I'm sure you feared I'd dropped off the face of the earth, but I didn't. I did attend a wedding, my husband had knee surgery, and we took our son to the ER for a nasty-looking black eye - on Halloween, no less (the picture is from 2 days later). And throughout the last couple of weeks, we've had some really good food that I haven't had a chance to write about. Now it all seems so overwhelming, so I'm just going to start with pictures and tell you about them as I go along.

These first few pictures were from my laughable attempt at sous-vide. I only say "laughable" because I didn't have a vacuum sealer or a thermal immersion circulator; other than that, I would actually call it a success. It's kind of like the boil-in-a-bag method, except I kept the water temperatures just below where I poach, which means it was more like a poaching-in-butter method, but without using a pound of butter.

First, I combined some softened butter with fresh thyme and Kosher salt. I took each of the chicken breasts (I had four) and placed them in their own Ziploc plastic bag (I used the freezer variety, since they're thicker, which may not make any difference whatsoever). Then I divided the seasoned butter between the four bags, pressed the air out, and zipped them shut. After massaging them in the butter, I dropped them into my water bath, which I kept between 165°F and 173°F, for about an hour. Once I'd removed them from the water, I let them set for 10 or 15 minutes before opening them up. And when I did open them up, I was very happy. They were not just tender the way poached chicken usually is, but very moist and flavorful.

So, I will definitely be using this method in the future, and I also highly recommend it. It has several advantages: obviously, the chicken is delicate and delicious; cleanup is very easy; and the chicken doesn't need to be completely thawed before adding it to the water bath. I'll likely double up the chicken breasts in the future, but aside from that and playing with different seasonings, it's a pretty good system the way it stands.

Alongside the chicken I served gnocchi and tomato cream sauce, which were both as lovely as I expected them to be. It was a delicious meal all-in-all, and now that it's been two weeks, I'm wondering how soon until I make it again. Of course, I'd have to use grocery store tomatoes, since we've had a few good frosts here, and it wouldn't be the same.

In addition to this meal, I'm anxious to tell you about my Mexican sopes and also my pork chops and polenta. But maybe I'll have to make the pork chops again first, since I don't have a picture of those or the polenta. Not that you need a picture, unless you're just like me and love food.


Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Keep up with the food pics!

I've seen the "seasoned meat cooked in plastic bag" before on some cooking show; never tried it myself, but after reading how easy it really is I'll be giving it a go soon.

Welcome back!

Oh, I've got my new food blog up, do you mind a link?

Rachel said...

No problem. Check out Dingo Dave's blog under the "food" links. Thanks!

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Whoopsie... that was a 'blond moment' on my part (I really do have blond hair).

Rachel said...

No problem!