Sous vide cooking

Along with each New Year comes new kitchenware products which my Hubby always called “another one for the barrel in the basement”.

The list of items in my barrel was very long, ranging from an electric frying pan, fondue pot, battery operated can opener, George Foreman’s grill, chicken rotisserie, Ninja food processor, and a knife sharpener that will not only sharpen your kitchen knives, but scissors and miraculously, even your push lawnmower’s blades. And during each of those years a newer and ‘better’ model would be introduced.

This year the item and method all cooks should be using according to cooking shows and culinary stores is one with a French name that, at a New Year’s Eve party a few weeks ago, none attending could pronounce … Sous Vide.

Sous Vide — pronounced sue veed — is a method of cooking food, including eggs, in a slow temperature-controlled water bath of about 150 degrees for a long period of time, much like the familiar crockpot which has remained popular with today’s busy working families

The Sous Vide equipment can be purchased from a mere $59 to a hefty $2,200. If you are going to cook using this method, not only do you need the circulator itself, but there are special bags, bag sealers, clips, etc. that can or must be purchased along with the cooker itself.

The first step in cooking using this method is to put several chicken breasts in a sealed freezer bag along with salt, pepper and ¼ cup of vegetable oil. Using a sous vide circulator ($129.00+) use enough water to fully submerse chicken and heat to 150 degrees. The pot should be large enough to hold 7 quarts of water. Clip bag to side of container allowing any air bubbles to rise to top of bag. Reopen one corner of bag and squeeze out any air bubbles and reseal the bag. Submerge the bag in the pot and cook for up to 3 hours.

The catchy phrase “foolproof juicy poached chicken” is apparently what cooks find hard to attain with ordinary chicken poaching methods, according to America’s Test Kitchen’s article which I am referring to here.

Now I have been able to manage a rather decent-tasting, tender AND juicy whole chicken which includes the breast by simply placing an entire six dollar chicken in a pot, cover it with cold water, add a couple of garlic cloves, a cup each of diced onion, celery and carrots, a bay leaf or two, and a Tbsp. of Italian seasoning. Most importantly, I add 3 Tbsp. of Better than Bullion condensed chicken

stock. I bring the chicken to a boil, turn down to simmering, and in about an hour my chicken is done. This same recipe can be used for chicken breasts only and the cooking time would be less than one-half hour.

With the Sous Vide method you have chicken full of oil and no broth with a great deal of wasted time spent. With my method you have at least 3 quarts of rich and delicious broth which can be used for dumplings, matzo balls, noodle or rice soup and of course, chicken pot pies. All of this without spending any money to add another fancy ‘pot’ to the barrel in the basement.

Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at czelak@comcast.net.

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