This post, on Sous Vide Processed Chicken is a root article for Sous Vide Resources. All root articles feature a specific Sous Vide preparation of beef, pork, other meats, chicken, fish, shellfish, vegetable or other food that will form the basis of other finished dishes.
As widely consumed as poultry is, people are still anxious about the presence of pathogens. Salmonella, and most pathogens, are odorless, colorless, and tasteless, but the presence of pink along the bone causes a lot of anxiety in diners. Many people end up OVER cooking their chicken/turkey to the point of sawdust dryness, just to avoid the risk. Sous Vide processing is specifically engineered to kill those pathogens by pasteurization, so we can happily cross that particular danger off of our worry lists.
Time and Temperature Guidelines
The range of temperatures and times are the same for all proteins, with but a few extra considerations. Even though chicken is much less dense than beef, proteins with bone require a little bit more heat to become fully penetrated. Safe processing temperatures start @135F, and can go as high as 165F , but keep this in mind; the lower the temperature, the less overall “damage” to the structural integrity of the chicken will occur.
When I say “damage,” I am not referring to tenderness, but, texture–the tendency to fall apart, become mushy, etc. As high as 145F, there may still be a little myoglobin (pink) present. Even though the chicken is pasteurized and completely safe, many people still find this color unappealing. I usually process between 145F-155F. The chicken is always going to be “rethermed” as fried chicken, sauteed, roasted, etc. As long as you plan on shocking and retherming your chicken, the same times and temperatures are applied. Chicken is rarely served right out of the bag, without at least searing, which will also encourage the myoglobin to dissipate.
A little bit of infrastructure
I don’t always do it the same way, but I almost always use 4 bags. One Breast each in two bags, and then one thigh, one leg, and one wing each in two bags.
a little closer look–no overlapping, as flat as possible.
I seal the bag almost all the way, and lower into room temperature water, holding the bag slightly open. The external pressure of the water forces out most of the air, and the bag will begin to sink.
Once it gets close, I pull out my finger and pinch the bag the rest of the way
Just to make sure, I submerge the bag all the way, if there’s a leak you will see it–even hear it.
This is the Lipavi L10 rack, just about right for one chicken, 4 bags. There are supplemental racks that fit into the holes in the grid, which has another grid below it, so they can’t move around.
Into the 145F Lipavi C10 vessel, which I’ve already lowered into the bag–the sink right into it.
I put the carcasses in a Ziploc Gallon bag with some mirepoix and approx. 2 cups water. The stock is a two step process, and saves a lot of clean up on the stove. I am getting ready to add just enough water to sink the bag with the onions, celery and carrots in it.
The Beginnings of the Harvest
After 4 hours, the carcasses are pasteurized. I remove them and cool, and remove any meat that was left on during the boning process. I also removed the bags of chicken, and shocked them cold to 70F in ice water, and then to 40F in the fridge. Now fully pasteurized, they can be kept in this state for at least a week.
After removing the chicken from the bag, I return the carcasses to the stock, and increase the temperature to 183F. This is required to actually cook the vegetables in the stock. I allow at least another 4 hours for this step.
Again, still some myoglobin visible in the bag. This is perfectly normal.
After cooling, the purge becomes gelatinous. In this case, I just dip the pieces in the hot stock and it drains off.
I removed the skin this time, which exposes a little bit more of the gel. The skin goes back in the stock, too.
After another quick dip, the chicken is pretty much all white. Just the slightest hint of pink, but the chicken is actually already “safe to eat” at this stage.
For this application, I lightly seasoned with salt and pepper and tossed with flour, which will lead to one of our variants of fried chicken. We will also be posting detailed instructions to make a variety of other preparations. This initial process will be compatible with ALL other applications detailed on this site.