Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Chicken breast, crisp chicken skin

This chicken breast was cooked sous vide for 55 minutes in a 63.5℃ water bath (I'm following the times for safe pasteurization given in Douglas Baldwin's guide to sous vide cooking).

To crisp the skin, it was sandwiched in baking parchment between two baking trays (to keep it flat) and cooked in a 200℃ oven for 45 minutes. (I tried crisping the skin with a blow torch, but just ended up with burnt rubber; I must be doing something wrong.)

The carrots were also cooked sous vide (85℃ for 1 hour), while the cabbage and potatoes were cooked conventionally.

I served this with a white wine butter sauce, following a recipe I learned at Ashburton Cookery School. This is similar to a beurre blanc, but contains reduced chicken stock and a splash of double cream which acts as an emulsifier, making the sauce more stable (McGee has an illuminating section on cream and butter sauces, worth a read if you're interested in the science).

Cooking the carrots sous vide kept their shape and retained all their flavour. The chicken was succulent and very tender; it was tasty, but definitely benefited from this creamy but slightly sharp sauce.

White Wine Butter Sauce Recipe

For 2 portions:
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 50g butter, cut into small dice and kept chilled
  • 100ml white wine
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 50ml crème fraiche or double cream
  • Salt and peper
  1. Melt a little of the butter in a small saucepan and add the shallot and a pinch of salt. Sweat gently to soften the shallot without letting it colour.
  2. Add the wine and increase the heat, letting it bubble and reduce until the wine has almost gone.
  3. Add the chicken stock and simmer until it has reduced by two thirds.
  4. Stir in the cream and cook gently until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  5. Gradually whisk in the diced butter. You should end up with a sauce the consistency of double cream - adding more butter will give you a thicker sauce.
  6. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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