SV Chicken Thighs

In the Getting Started with Sous Vide Forum
I tried cooking SV for the first time last night. I don't have any equipment, just used the stove top method. I know its not the most precise or accurate, but wanted to try it anyways. I brined some boneless, skinless chickent thighs for 4 hours, then rinsed, dried and seasoned with salt. I used the Ziploc Sous-Vide bags then cooked them at 150F for 1.5hrs. When i took the bag out, there was a lot of liquid in the bag. I then put them in an ice bath to stop the cooking then took them out, dried them, seasoned with S&P then seared on both sides. I have two questions. 1) Is it normal for there to be a lot of liquid (juice?) in bag or do you think my bag leaked? 2) My thighs seemed dry, was this because I overcooked it SV or seared them too long? Let me know if you have any advice!


9 Replies So Far

They were dry because all the juices had leaked out of the chicken and were left in the bag. It happens to me also and unfortunately I don't have an answer to it.
In theory the vacuum sealing should keep the juices in the meat but, with a normal vacuum sealer at least, this certainly is not the case in practice.
There should normally be a decent amount of juice in the bag since you're still cooking the chicken, there is just less juice lost than cooking it with traditional methods. At 150F they shouldn't be dry though, I usually do them at 156F and they come out really juicy. It might be from too long of a sear, it should be more than 1 or 2 minutes per side.

I hope that helps some.
all the info helps. I've been talking to some other people who cook professionally, and they said 150F is too high. They suggested something closer to 140. Does anyone have experience using the Ziploc Sous-Vide bags? Do they work well? Have they ever failed and leaked water in?
We, I've used the first incarnation where you have to submerge them to get the air out. Never had a problem. The new ones with the valves look interesting but the price of the bags is an issue for me.
I should be clear that I'm talking about the ones at Sous Vide Supreme.
I usually use ziploc freezer bags and they work very well. The Sous Vide Supreme ones also work well.
Im surprised nobody mentioned this yet but, you brined them (salt) which does sometimes produce a moist chicken when grilling or deep frying. Im sure it may do so aswell with sous vide but, then you salted again after rinsing and thats what probably drawn out all the juices and moisture from your chicken thighs. Rule of thumb, never salt before sous vide, always salt after.
It's normal for liquid to be in the bag. As proteins cook past a certain temperature they will begin to squeeze out water. The higher the temperature the more water squeezed out.

Brining before cooking sous vide is perfectly acceptable. Many professional chefs, including Thomas Keller, brine chicken before bagging it for sous vide cooking. I've cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast with and without brining and the brined product is always a little more moist and seasoned.

The bags used aren't critical and you don't need a perfect vacuum. If a little air in the bag pulls it to the water's surface you can weigh it down with a plate or bowl.

There's no need to ice down your food to stop carryover cooking. It's already cooked to the desired temperature and it's not going to cook any further. When you remove your food it's ready to go. If you want to sear it pat it dry first and sear it quickly. The longer you apply high heat the more you are destroying your sous vide efforts. A little Maillard on the surface is great, but working at it too long will ruin your product.

Be careful with salt. If you brine you do not need to season with salt afterwards.

Temperature is everything. We find chicken breast at 140 to be a bit underdone for our taste. But the 147 we've seen recommended is seems a bit dry. We much prefer, as do our dinner guests, chicken breast cooked to 143. How long? It depends on the thickness of the meat for food safety, but other than that we put the chicken in the bath an hour before guests are expected. If it takes 3 hours to get to it so what? That's the beauty, there's no rush.

I do beef short ribs at 136 for 48 hours and they are amazing. Strip loin is cooked at 130, then patted dry and seared. How long? It depends on the temperature of the meat when slipped into the bath and the thickness...always check the food safety charts! Don't be lazy about doing research. Knowledge is power.
The different opinions on salt are interesting. I started out salting per recipes before hand. I found lots of liquid in the bag after cooking and the meat, both thighs and breasts more dry than I prefer or would have expected via Sous Vide.

So I tried no salt in the bag. i added other seasonings, maybe herbs, pepper, whatever, just no salt. Same temp, same time. Less liquid in the bag after cooking and meat much more moist.

I often sear the meat, but not always. i've cooked up a batch of meat, let it cool and then cut up for other recipes like chicken salad. The meat is wonderful.

-JD-


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