How to Cook a Chicken Breast Perfectly Every Time. Precise Low Temperatures for Moist, Juicy and Tasty Chicken!
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Here is a series of a few pretty easy to follow instructions for cooking a chicken breast. Nothing expensive nor any out of-the-ordinary cooking equipment is needed for this technique…and it will produce the very best chicken breast you have ever had.
I have never had great affection for chicken breast until I discovered how good it could be when cooked with great precision, and cooked to a uniform 62 degrees Celsius throughout. Chicken breast cooked in this way is a revelation. It is tender, completely moist and juicy and full of this incredible natural chicken taste - which sounds kind of silly, as most chicken should taste like chicken, right (?) but once you try it you'll understand what I'm raving about!!
A brief explanation (bear with me…)
This technique for cooking chicken is inspired from the sous vide movement in professional cooking (You can read more about sous vide here and read how to set yourself up to do sous vide for about $250 here). Sous vide cooking is a technique which involves cooking foods packed in vacuum bags at very precise temperatures in water.
When grilling or frying or baking etc., you normally cook meat at temperatures far higher than the optimal final temperature of the meat. Although you may want an internal temperature of 62-65 degrees Celsius within your chicken breast, you might cook it on a grill or pan surface that is 200 degrees Celsius or hotter! What inevitably ends up happening is that by the time you have cooked the inside at the deepest point to the desired temperature, you have over cooked the rest of the breast!
In this new style of cooking you will cook the breasts very slowly at 62 degrees. Since 62 degrees is the optimal temperature for chicken, you cannot overcook them!
Professional kitchens use expensive chamber vacuum sealers and laboratory water baths to do this – you can replicate the results of a sous vide set up for chicken breast with:
- A large pot of water
- A thermometer
2 sizes of ziplock bags (1 quart and 1 gallon sizes)
What you do (7 easy steps!)
- Firstly, take your largest pot of water and fill it with as much water as you can. You are going to try to keep the temperature of the water at 62 degrees Celsius, and keep that temperature as stable as possible for about 1 hour. The more water in the pot, the easier it is to manage temperature fluctuations.
- Sprinkle a little salt on a boneless and skinless chicken breast, and place 1 breast inside the 1 quart sized bag. Place your 1 quart bag inside the 1 gallon sized bag. Do not close the gallon bag. Submerge the bags so that the top of the quart ziplock is below the waterline, but the top of the gallon bag is above the waterline.
- Keeping the quart bag completely submerged, work out any air bubbles, and seal the top. If the bag is tight against the chicken breast after you remove it from the water, you have achieved an acceptable vacuum seal. If not, try again! Repeat with as many chicken breasts in individual bags as desired/needed.
- Heat the water up to 62. When at 62, toss in the bags of chicken. The chicken should sink to the bottom. If they float to the top, use something to weigh them down so that they stay submerged for the entire cooking time.
- Keep a quantity of cold water at the ready beside the pot. This water can be used to cool the pot water down quickly if you find that your water has climbed beyond 62.
- Keeping a close eye on the temperature and adjusting the heat as needed, cook the chicken for 1 hour.
- Pull the chicken out of the bags, and use in any dish that calls for chicken breasts! You will be amazed at the difference!
You can also sear them quickly in a very hot pan to brown the exterior prior to serving. Try to brown them as quickly as possible, so as not to undo all of the gains of your precision low temperature cooking efforts.
I hope you find this as astonishingly good as I do. I think that 62 degrees Celsius is perfect for chicken, but if you find it a touch too juicy, try again next time at 64.
This technique is totally safe if you are eating the chicken right away. Because of the very small risk of botulism, you should get educated about sous vide cooking and sous vide food safety before preparing things using this technique for storage and later consumption. There is a very small risk of botulism associated with the storage of improperly prepared sous vide. There is zero risk of botulism if the chicken is cooked to order and consumed promptly after cooking.