Fledgling Sous Vide home cook picking your brains

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by drirene, Oct 3, 2017.

  1. drirene

    drirene

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    At home wannabe pastry chef
    I had only one large plastic bag and 2 large pieces of chicken breast, skin-on, bone-in. I brought the water temperature to 150 and added both breasts into the bag (one over the other, not next to each other), seasoned with salt and pepper, 3 slices lemon, and a 3-inch fresh rosemary sprig. Finally, the air was expelled from the bag, and we were ready to rock n' roll.
    Given the thickness of the chicken, I though this would be a two hour sous vide. After about an hour I noticed the bag had half-filled with broth! The Chicken was essentially "boiling" at 150. I poured off the liquid, expelled the air and resealed the bag. Near the end of cooking, that same bag was once again half-filled with chicken water/pot water. Emptied it again. Now it was time for its 5 or 10 minutes on the grill - both sides to brown.

    1. How does this faulty sous vide technique affect both the flavor and the safety of the food? Essentially, a 150 degree boil for 2 hours, and a good crisping on the grill. Should I worry?

    2. Another question came to mind: What if the bags weren't sealed properly and had air trapped in them. What would have been the effect of air touching the food. And, would it be safe at 150 for two hours?

    Looking forward to hearing from y'all!
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I suspect you had a puncture or two from the bones on the chicken. And/or you bought a "pumped" chicken.

    The chicken will cook fine either way. The bagging is more about containing seasoning around the food and keeping the circulator clean. Because you really can't clean the circulator well. The meat is at temperature either way.

    Air doesn't conduct heat as well as water so it could be a problem. It can also make the bag float so it's not all in the water at temperature. A little air isn't much of an issue. But try to eliminate it if you can. Put a big metal spoon on the bag to keep it submerged. You can always reseal the bag again to let the air out also.
     
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  3. someday

    someday

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    150F is also too high for a sous vide chicken breast. Better to cook in the 138-140F range to really get the benefits. You should also lay the breasts next to each other instead of stacking them, this will ensure quicker and more even heating. If you are using a ziplock style bag you should probably get better bags.

    The chicken isn't "boiling" at 150, this is well in the poaching range. Boiling takes place at 212F (at sea level) and is a much more vigorous form of cooking.

    As phatch said, you may have had a puncture, but most likely is you got some pumped up salt solution added chicken that expelled moisture when you cooked it.

    Again, I think 150 is too high for sous vide. What is the point, you can easily just roast or bake it to that temp and it will be good. The advantage of sous vide is to be able to cook a chicken breast safely at a lower temp than you would be able to achieve easily with another method.

    Also, if you are going to get serious about sous vide, you should invest in a vacuum sealer and a proper circulator. There are ways to "hack" sous vide together and get decent results, but if you really want to get into it you need some equipment.
     
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  4. Pat Pat

    Pat Pat

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    If you could reseal the bag, it means the bag wasn't damaged. The liquid inside the bag was probably from the chicken itself. In addition to the chicken being injected with brine, improperly frozen chicken can also produce a lot of juice during sous vide.

    By the way, I think 150°F is fine for chicken breasts; although I do mine @ 147°F. ChefSteps recommends 149°F so...
     
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  5. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    She's using zipper locking bags, not vacuum sealed. And has an anova circulator.
     
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  6. drirene

    drirene

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    The breasts were T---n, so you are all probably right about the liquid. Amazing amount of brine! I will shop more carefully next time.

    And thank you for clarifying the functions of the bag. Very helpful!

    Sous vide is a fun and NON-MESSY way to cook. For me that is a big plus. I really like it!

    Cheers.