Posted by johngl
A couple of posts ago, in Petite Tenderloin, I mentioned that I have a new kitchen toy: a temperature controller. This piece of equipment has exceeded my expectations and even the most glorious spousal unit has approved of it by saying “That’s a $150 well spent!”
Sous-vide is the French term for “under vacuum” and is a cooking method that helps maintain the integrity of ingredients by heating them at about the same temperature you would normally serve the food. For instance, if you wanted to serve a chicken breast that wasn’t overcooked, you would want the meat in the 150-160 degree range. In sous-vide cooking, you would simply cook it at that temp until it was ready. For chicken breasts, this takes about 45 minutes.
This chicken breast is seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, a little cognac and brushed with olive oil. The quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), is hydrated with chicken stock and seasoned with salt and pepper. It is amazingly easy to prepare.
Get some nice chicken breasts:
Season them in the manner you see fit, then place them in your FoodSaver bag, leaving a space between them. Carefully, evacuate the bag:
Set these aside for a bit to allow them to marinade and also to help take some of the chill off. Fill whatever you are using for a water bath with some hot tap water (mine comes out of the tap in the 130-140 range normally) and turn on the controller and set the temp.
This is a shot of the controller found in that earlier tenderloin post. I set it 150 degrees this time around for the the chicken breasts.
The water came up to temp in less than a half hour, which made things most convenient. I dropped that bag of chicken into the 150 degree water bath then started on the quinoa.
Since I buy this stuff in the bulk food section, the labels conveniently come with cooking instructions. Follow them and you can’t go wrong.
As you can see, this is right on a cup. Add the two cups of chicken stock. Mine is a bit thick because it is home made and has been reduced quite a bit. I just don’t have room to store lots of weak stock.
With a little heat, all that collagen melts and distributes evenly. The quinoa goes from this:
in about twenty minutes. All the stock will have been absorbed. Just set it aside and keep it warm until the chicken breasts are done, which is only another ten minutes or so. This gives you plenty of time to get the plates ready to go.
Since this was my first time cooking chicken using this method, I wanted to make sure it was done:
There was an ever so slight pink cast to it. Here it is, up close and personal:
But, since the juices were actually running completely clear, I deemed it safe to eat. And man, was this tender and juicy. I ate about half the breast before I got to the plate. Consequently, I cut up another one for the photos below:
I’ve discovered that I really enjoy the flavors and textures of quinoa, so I’ll keep using it. Besides, it actually is an ancient grain (as the label indicated) used continuously in Peru for 6000 years, give or take a decade or two.
Now, people may wonder about this whole sous-vide thing. Oftentimes you hear it requires specialized equipment. It doesn’t require all that much. I already had the FoodSaver (for nearly a decade now) and the roaster (at least 5 years). The newest FoodSaver is about $130 and the roaster costs less than $50. The controller, with shipping, was around $155. So, for $335, you can have the same setup (a lot better than $1400 for an immersion circulator). I just spent that ($335 not $1400) on a Wii game console and Fit setup this morning. I guess one has to choose priorities.
So, what wine did we have with this healthy lunch?
A 1996 Chassagne-Montrachet “Boudriotte” white burgundy. Sadly, this wine is on the decline, but due to its age, it had a nuttiness that went wonderfully with the quinoa. Golden in color, I found myself thinking that this reminded me a lot of some of old champagnes I had back in December, like a ’70 Dom. I have a couple of more bottles of this and I am half-tempted to artificially carbonate one of them, just for laughs. I’ll let you know how that turns out…