|It was John T Edge the
noted food writer and director of the Southern Foodways Alliance who wrote,
“The presence of a bone in a piece of fried chicken is functionally and
formally elemental. Without a bone,
chicken lacks its savory essence, its primal, Henry VIII appeal.”
Nowhere is that little gastronomic gem more important than in this sous vide updated classic American batter fried chicken. By cooking vacuum brined chicken sous vide for anywhere from 2 to 4 hours the juices that exude from the bone offer a rich and complex flavor to the poultry’s flesh that a lonely, boneless, breaded nugget only dreams of attaining.
|This recipe not only showcases the beauty of the sous vide technique but also the versatility of vacuum machines in general. Before the chicken finds its way to the SV1’s (sous vide machine) water bath we use the technique of vacuum brining utilizing the marinating mode of select VacMaster Chamber machines. Setting the marinade controls to 9 allows the machine to pull and release multiple vacuums over roughly an hour and a half. Now that might sound like time you don’t have but two things to keep in mind, first, the machine does all the work while you attend to other things but more importantly that hour and a half approximates about 12 hours (or overnight) of standard refrigerated brining - that my dear VacMasters - is a game changer!|
|Another key technique offered by preparing the chicken sous vide before frying is the cooking juices that are exuded during the cooking process. Those juices have all of the flavors of the herb packed brine as well as the broth from the chicken. Those savory juices are perfect for creating the batter. We simply pour off those cooking juices and combine them with the flours to create a perfectly seasoned batter the pairs beautifully with the chicken. As the cooking liquid is so flavorful feel free to add the batter seasonings I have offered as an option to be used at your discretion.|
|This recipe is for two
small 3-4 pound frying chickens cut into 6-8 pieces. Why 6-8 you ask? Well I like having all my
chicken roughly the same size and the breasts even with a smaller chicken is
quite longer than the other pieces. I
like to cut the breast in half creating 8 pieces so everything is similar in
size and cooks evenly.
At first glance this recipe seems daunting and yes, it’s true there are more than a few steps involved but the vacuum and sous vide technique allows all of the preliminary steps to be done days in advance with only the actual frying saved for the day you are eating. It truly couldn’t easier!
• 6-8 pounds chickens, whole, 2 whole birds cut into 6-8 pieces each
• Cooking oil for frying, peanut or similar
• As needed thyme sprigs and lime wedges, for garnish
For the brine:
•1/2 gallon cold water
• 1/2 cup kosher salt
• 1/3 cup maple syrup
• 6 bay leaves
• 1 whole garlic head, cloves peeled and smashed
• 1-2 tablespoons or to taste chili pepper flakes
• 6 large rosemary sprigs
• 1 small bunch of thyme
• 1 small bunch of parsley
• 3 large limes, finely grated zest and juice of limes
For the batter:
• 3/4 cup wondra flour
• 3/4 cup rice flour
• Reserved cooking liquid from chicken, or poultry broth as needed
• 1 teaspoon roasted garlic powder, as needed
• 1 teaspoon paprika, smoked, as needed
• 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, as needed
• 1 teaspoon onion powder, as needed
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, as needed
• Kosher salt, optional or as needed
For the Brine:
1. In a suitable sized non-reactive pot, combine 1 pint of the water with the salt, maple, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, half the rosemary, half the thyme, half the parsley, lime juice and lime zest.
2. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium high heat stirring until the salt is dissolved.
3. Remove from the heat and let cool completely, then stir in the remaining ice cold water.
For the vacuum brining:
1. Using a bowl that will comfortably fit in a VacMaster chamber machine (with the marinade function) place a suitable amount of the chicken and top with the brine using half or quarter batches.
2. Set the marinade controls to 9 and press start.
3. As each marinade cycle takes 9 minutes this procedure will take 81 minutes or 1 hour and 35 minutes.
4. This brief marinade function will approximate 12 hours (overnight) of standard or static refrigerated brining.
5. When finished, repeat the procedure with all of the remaining chicken and remaining brine.
For the sous vide:
1. Preheat the VacMaster SV1 to 60°C/140°F for breasts and 65°C/149°F for the dark meat
2. Drain the chicken from the brine and using appropriately sized VacMaster bag(s) and the VacMaster Bag filler add the dark meat to one and the white meat to another and evenly distribute the other half of the herbs between the bags.
3. Using a VacMaster chamber machine vacuum pack the bagged chicken.
4. Carefully place the bags into the SV1 and the required temperature for a minimum of 2 hour for the breasts and up to 4 hours for the dark meat.
For the Batter:
1. Using paper towels pat the chicken dry and feel free to remove any clinging herbs if that offends you. I personally like to leave as much herbs as possible for an herbal flavor burst with every bite.
2. In a medium-size bowl blend the two flours along with the garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, ground black pepper.
3. Slowly whisk in the reserved cooking liquid until a thin pancake like batter is achieved.
4. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your preference.
5. As the chicken was brined the broth will be quite flavorful and depending on your tastes any additional flavoring might not be needed.
6. Following the manufactures directions set up a deep fryer (or alternatively using a Dutch oven) with the oil to 375°
7. Working in batches drop the chicken pieces into the batter and coat thoroughly.
8. Shake off any excess batter and drop the chicken into the hot oil and cook for 3-5 minutes or until nicely browned.
9. Keep in mind as the chicken is already cooked you can fry until you’re satisfied with the color of the crust, dark or light it’s up to you.
10. Remove the cooked chicken to a cooling rack set over paper towels to catch any draining oil.
11. Transfer the fried chicken to a platter, garnish with the herb sprigs and lime wedges, serve hot or at room temperature.