140°F chicken? This is madness!
Juicy, juicy madness…
Heston Blumenthal’s 140°F sous vide chicken was high on my “sous vide must be magic” list. Now, I know it’s safe – the USDA says that Chicken is safe to eat after 15 minutes at 140°F, and with a sous vide water bath, I can keep it there for hours. USDA’s 165°F recommendation, the one you always hear for poultry, kills salmonella after 15 seconds.
Why 140°F? It cooks the chicken to medium – cooked all the way through, not looking pink and underdone – and the temperature is low enough to keep the chicken juices in the meat. These breasts are the exact opposite of overcooked, dry as dust white meat. They’re moist, and tender enough to cut with a butter knife. But don’t use a butter knife – it can cut the meat, but the skin is too tough.
The downside to sous vide is no browning. A quick sear on the grill takes care of that.
Sure, I can use a frypan to sear the chicken. But why would I do that when I have a grill on a beautiful spring day?
I’m reading Matthew Amster-Burton’s Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo, and the yakitori chapter inspired me to make the chicken with a Japanese style glaze and dipping sauce. I fortified the sauce with the liquid from the sous vide bags, capturing the last bit of chicken flavor that was trying to escape.
The grill did a great job of crisping up the chicken skin, and the basting sauce adds a browned glaze to the bird. I pass the rest of the sauce at the table, so my family can dip pieces of tender chicken in the sweet, salty sauce.
If you have a sous vide water bath, you have to try 140°F chicken. (Or, as Mr. Blumenthal would call it, 60°C chicken.) No sous vide water bath? No worries…sort of. You can improvise a water bath with a beer cooler and hot water. Make sure to start around 145°F, and add hot water as needed to keep the temperature above 140°F .
Recipe: Sous Vide Grilled Chicken Breasts With Japanese Glaze and Dipping Sauce
Adapted From: Heston Blumenthal’s 140°F sous vide chicken
Cooking time: 2 hours, 4 minutes
- Sous Vide water bath (I used a SousVide Supreme Demi, but you can improvise one with a beer cooler)
- Vacuum sealer
- Grill (I use a Weber Summit. Here is the current version of my grill.)
- 4 bone in, skin on chicken breasts, ribs trimmed
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 cup mirin (Japanese sweetened rice wine, or substitute sweet sherry)
- 1/4 cup sake (Japanese brewed rice wine, or substitute dry sherry)
- chicken juices from the sous vide bags
1. Sous vide the chicken breasts
Sprinkle the chicken breasts with the kosher salt, seal in vacuum bags. Cook at 140°F for 2 hours, or up to 6 hours.
2. Preheat the grill for direct high heat
Set the grill up for cooking on direct high heat, and clean the grill grate. For my gas grill, I preheat with all the burners on high for 15 minutes, then brush the grate clean with my grill brush.
3. Dry the chicken, prepare the sauce
While the grill is preheating: Remove the chicken from the sous vide oven and cut open the vacuum bags. Put the chicken on a platter and pour any juice in the bags into a small pot. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients to the pot with the chicken juices and bring to a simmer on the stove (or the side burner of your grill). Let the sauce simmer gently while the grill finishes preheating.
4. Grill the chicken
Put the chicken on the grill over direct high heat. Sear the chicken, flipping and basting with the sauce every minute, until it is browned and the skin is crispy, about 4 minutes. Immediately move the chicken back to the serving platter.
Divide the remaining sauce into small bowls for dipping, and serve with the chicken.
- If you have a sear burner or infrared burner, this is the time to use it – you want the grill as hot as possible. That way, you brown the outside of the chicken without cooking into the (already perfectly cooked) center of the meat.
- There should be a little flaring from the fat dripping on the grill – it helps with browning – but turn the chicken often to keep it from turning into a grease fire. And, when first turning the chicken, work it carefully from the grill grates, to keep the skin from tearing.
- Next time I’ll seal some slices of garlic, ginger, and green onions in with the chicken, for an extra hit of flavor. (Discard these before grilling if you try it.)
- I served the chicken with soba noodles tossed with sesame oil and edamame. Rice and an Asian stir fried vegetable (like bok choy) are also good suggestions for side dishes.
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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