There are two different arguments to advocate for sous vide cooking. In many cases, the utility of sous vide as a tool is largely in its reproducibility and reliability – steak is arguably best cooked on a hot cast iron skillet or charcoal grill, but the consistency of these methods pales in comparison to the precision and ease of sous vide cooking. On the other hand, there are physical characteristics of some dishes that can only be achieved through the unique temperature, moisture, and heat flux parameters that sous vide offers. Stated another way, sous vide can either make things easier or make them better.
Chicken breast falls under the latter category – it is normally, a dry, stringy, flavorless cut compared to its juicier cousins the thigh and drumstick, but cooking it sous vide results in a juicy, tender, and flavorful piece of chicken that is not possible through any other cooking technique. Similar to duck breast, the skin can be crisped after the water bath immersion without overcooking the interior by virtue of its insulating properties. Brining, which is typically needed for breast meat, is not necessary in a sous vide cook as the chicken remains moist and develops an intense, savory flavor.
SOUS VIDE CHICKEN BREAST.
- Bone-in, skin-on or boneless, skin-on chicken breasts
Season chicken breasts generously with salt and pepper, vacuum seal, and immerse in a 140F water bath for at least one hour. This temperature can be increased up to 160F, with the degree of firmness being proportional to the chosen temperature.
Heat a small amount of cooking oil in a cast iron skillet until the pan is blazing hot. Remove the chicken from the bag, pat dry with paper towels, and sear on all sides until the skin is crisp and the meat is browned. Serve immediately with additional salt & pepper. Optionally, the bones can be removed with your fingers after the chicken is cool enough to handle, and the meat sliced into strips.