Sous-Vide Supreme Maiden Voyage: Chicken

It might strike you as odd that with all the various beef and other fancy dishes I do — putting such care into my sauces and such — that after laying down $400 for a kitchen appliance I would choose chicken breasts as the first dish.

How often do I do chicken of any kind? Not very. And it’s not that I don’t like chicken — I do — it’s just that I usually have something better in mind.

Back when I attended the Doctors Eades’ presentation in San Francisco, Mike told me to pay particular attention to the chicken. I did, and here’s what I wrote about it.

I must say that the chicken was probably the best in terms of improvement over any other cooking method. Mike had warned me about this before we even got started, and he was sure right. It’s really difficult to describe, but it’s tender, moist, and has a flavor as though it has been infused with a particularly concentrated chicken stock. And while the skin wasn’t exactly crispy, it and the nice layer of fat were just delicious. I believe I’d buy a SousVide Supreme solely for the way it does chicken.

Well, now I can definitely say that it wasn’t because it was prepared by Chef Blumenthal. You can do this at home with a Sous-Vide Supreme.

Vacuum Packed Chicken
Vacuum Packed Chicken

Very simple. A pinch of sea salt & slice of butter in each bag. I had a bit of difficulty getting the pump to get going sucking out the bag but by the third time had figured out the trick of moistening the rubber seal and things went easier.

Then it’s into the water bath.

In the Sous Vide
In the Sous-Vide

One nice thing is how quickly the water heats up. Of course I began with hot tap water which certainly helps, but I think it was only at around 110 or so and it took only a few minutes to get to 146. And, as advertised, the unit keeps the temperature within 1/3 of one degree F. An hour is all it took to get done, though it’s fine if you leave it in longer. That’s another advantage, you can’t overcook.

Conventional cooking is all about overcooking the outside just enough to get the inside done the way you want it, risking having the inside overdone (dry & stringy) or underdone (crunchy chicken). Here, all you need to do is make sure you leave it in for a minimum amount of time and it’s perfectly moist, tender & delicious.

Sous Vide Chicken
Sous-Vide Chicken

What I did here was to brush the skin with the butter and drippings from the bags and fire them under the broiler for a few minutes. Incidentally, there was only a small amount of moisture other than butter; i.e., the moisture was still inside the meat where it should be.


The funny thing is, that probably doesn’t look particularly different or better than any nicely prepared chicken breast. In terms of moisture, texture and taste, however, it is totally superior to any chicken I’ve ever had. In fact, I’ve had chicken — and turkey — that looked fine but was so dry that it made me cough.

Yes, of course I did a sauce. I reduced a quart of quality organic chicken stock to about 1 cup, with 1/2 cube of butter, just a pinch or so of tarragon (less is more with that herb), a bay leaf, and about 3 tbsp of heavy cream. But, I served the sauce on the side so the chicken could be sampled all on its own.

There were four of us and everyone raved. Robert was demonstrating the tenderness by cutting his chicken with a spoon. Bea, uncharacteristically, brought up the sous-vide subject a couple of times today and is anxious for more. Julie did a wonderful salad with bacon bits. I’ll put that up in a separate post over the weekend

I’ll likely be blogging regularly about this cooking method. I want to try pork chops very soon. Scrambled eggs, too, and I’m looking forward to seeing if I can have perfect soft boiled eggs waiting for me in the morning. While I’m looking forward to doing steaks soon, what really excites me about this is doing other kinds of meat & fish — far less expensive than grassfed beef — and attaining a level of satisfaction that rivals your BBQ steak.

The four of us agreed last night that this dish rivaled the pleasure of a perfect medium rare steak. So if I start doing a lot more of this and a bit less grassfed beef I’ll pay for the cost of it in no time.

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  1. Lisa on November 26, 2009 at 04:12

    I don’t think I’d want to eat chicken that was cooked in plastic, though it sounds delicious.

  2. Marc Feel Good Eating on November 26, 2009 at 04:57

    The plastic bags are made special for this. It’s not a ziploc.

    It’s my Xmas present to myself……..wish it was Xmas al ready.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones.


  3. Lisa on November 26, 2009 at 07:16

    From what I’ve read no plastic is safe to cook in… the heat causes the chemicals to leach into the food. Are they claiming to have some sort of “special” plastic? I checked their website and I didn’t see any mention of it.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 26, 2009 at 08:30

      I don’t know about that, but it’s not a concern to me, it’s part of 80/20…but even more, a GREAT tradeoff in my view even if there is a bit of risk. SV is super low temp. And, in my research I’m finding that the already low temps published in the manual are actually too high due to liability concerns (essentially, they have to publish temps per Federal Mafia standards).

      Compare cooking chicken at a measly 140 degrees, for example, with 500-600 on the grill or perhaps 400-500 in a skillet and the potential for oxidized PUFA, not to mention carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).

  4. Jeanie Campbell on November 26, 2009 at 07:32

    As far as I’m concerned, if all the top chefs in the WORLD use this cooking method, I’m all for it, too. Last night we had the most succulent port chops ever. Sous Vide is wonderful!!

  5. Jeff Michael on November 26, 2009 at 13:49

    We just finished eating our Thanksgiving turkey cooked in the Sous Vide Supreme. Really fantastic… my wife and I both felt it was the best dark turkey meat we’ve ever eaten.

    There’s a financial benefit to the SVS too. I’ve wanted to buy sous vide cooking equipment for almost a year, but it normally costs $1200+. The SVS cost me a third of that. Thanks Richard for bringing it to my attention; you saved me $800! And I’ll continue to save money on buying meat. We cooked a piece of cheap top round the other night and it came out with the consistency and flavor of prime rib. I’ll be interested to hear what other kinds of things you come up with for the SVS.

    • John Campbell on November 26, 2009 at 14:12

      I gotta get one. How big was the turkey?

      • Jeff Michael on November 27, 2009 at 07:34

        We did a breast, a thigh, and a drumstick. I could have fit the other thigh and drumstick in the bath, but there are only 2 of us. The pieces were big–we have lots of leftovers.

      • John Campbell on November 27, 2009 at 09:59

        Thanks Jeff – I didn’t think the 20 to 24 pound monsters for the family would fit.

        The trouble is that I would probably need two of them – one set for medium rare for me and medium for my wife and kids.

        Regardless of the above limitations, I am sold on the concept. Enjoy the leftovers.

  6. Lisa on November 26, 2009 at 14:38

    Okay now I really want one, and they stopped the $50 off coupons 2 weeks ago. Bad timing! I signed up for their mailing list, maybe they’ll send out coupons for the holidays and I can get one.

  7. Jimbeaux on November 26, 2009 at 22:45

    Looks like a crock of marketing chicken shit to be honest. 400 bucks to slow cook meet in vacum-sealed plastic bags just like our ancestors? Ridiculous…

    • Richard Nikoley on November 27, 2009 at 10:53

      About as “ridiculous” as cooking on a gas grill, or an oven or a skillet I suppose…”just like our ancestors.”

      • Jimbeaux on November 27, 2009 at 23:28

        Attempt at sarcasm was failed – apologies – I will never again post after post holiday spirits. Intention was humor,

      • Richard Nikoley on November 28, 2009 at 00:28

        Ha! I’ve done that a few times myself. Probably will again. :)

    • Tin Tin on November 27, 2009 at 18:48

      Jimbeaux, cooked any good meals yourself lately? Care to share? My money says you haven’t cooked anything you’d want anyone else to see let alone taste.

      BTW, if you want to understand what sous-vide cooking is about, google Heston Blumenthal and sous-vide. If that doesn’t convince you then you know a lot less about GOOD food and cooking than you think you do.

      • Jimbeaux on November 27, 2009 at 23:40

        I have eaten raw turtle eggs, capybara, black and red monkey, wild boar, rotten boar fat with hair, masato (fermented spit and yucca root), Suri (fried worms), anticucho, cayman, and prehistoric fish. Some good some not so good and some awful. I lived and ate with stoneage tribes and have a great interest in modern diet as it relates to what I experienced living in the wild for a few years during the late 90’s. My favorite was pachamanca in a buried pot with water for one to several days a la sous vide.

        I have also worked in a high-end restaurant and I like to hunt with some pretty reputable chefs – I know food. I like this blog b/c I am a HUGE fan of bone broths as well. I have followed this blog for a very long time as a lurker. I partook of too much vodka and attempted and failed at an attempt at sarcasam. I will go away and remain a lurker. If you would like a few pictures of my kills and meals, I will email them to you. Love to you all and please no hard feelings!

      • Richard Nikoley on November 28, 2009 at 09:50

        Sounds like some interesting experiences. I’d love to see some photos & hopefully explanations and background.

  8. Anand Srivastava on November 27, 2009 at 01:04

    This looks interesting. My problem is that I am a very bad cook. Its an even bigger problem for my son, because meat is not tender enough. If this can make it very tender then I can get my son to eat meat. He does have grilled chicken sometimes if it is done well.

    There is also a SousVideMagic PID controller that comes at only 139$ and works with a simple Rice Cooker. It is still very expensive, but something I can think of.

    Also an option to buy an off the shelf PID temperature controller (around 20$). That will fit my budget but have to see how it works. I do have a Rice Cooker ;-).

  9. Nige on November 27, 2009 at 01:29

    What temperature does a standard slow-cooker operate at (I already have one)?
    I’m a cheapskate, did ya notice? :-D

    • Richard Nikoley on November 27, 2009 at 10:56

      Slow cookers like crock pots are well above 200 even on low, which is far in excess f any sous-vide application I’m aware of.

      Incidentally, Mike Eades sent me the lab report for bisphenol-A on the plastic bags and it was below the detection threshold of 1 ppm.

      • Nige on November 27, 2009 at 11:58

        Thanks. As a retired Electronic Engineer, I might find a way to cheaply reduce a crock pot down to 140 degF using junk I have in my spare bedroom. How accurate does the cooking temperature need to be IYO?

      • Richard Nikoley on November 27, 2009 at 12:14

        From all I’ve read, critical. Not only do you use different temperatures for different kinds of meat, but different temperatures for how you want it cooked. In other words, it’s all about temperature, not time.

      • Alex on November 27, 2009 at 19:10

        Actually, time is an important factor with tough cuts of meat. Do some beef heart at 135 degrees for 48 hours and you’ll understand.

  10. Tin Tin on November 27, 2009 at 19:43

    This is great. Heston does a whole pig sous-vide in a hot tub!

  11. Trish on November 27, 2009 at 13:41

    I’ve seen anecdotes about people getting sous vide-like results using rice cookers, which supposedly also cook at very low temps. And what kind of bags are you using?

    • Alex on November 27, 2009 at 19:17

      A rice cooker alone is too hot for sous vide. But, a rice cooker connected to a $140 digital PID temperature controller from is perfect.

  12. Corey on November 29, 2009 at 11:57

    Nice post Richard. I have been experimenting with my machine since it arrived on Monday. I have some steaks in right now! I look forward to seeing your future endeavors with sous-vide. My first batch of chicken was not as good as yours! I may need to try a lower temp.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 30, 2009 at 11:43


      The temps are likely all too high, but they have to stick with government guidelines. I have it on good authority that 140 is the temp to use for chicken, which is what I’ll try next. Also, the been temps are WAY too high for medium rare.

  13. Salmon Sous-Vide | Free The Animal on December 1, 2009 at 09:25

    […] with me on this for a while because I'm becoming more excited about this by the day. I blogged of the chicken experience the other day, first use of the Doctors Eades' Sous-Vide Supreme (which is an engineering work of […]

  14. […] with an entire chicken cut up, vacuum packed and cooked in the Sous Vide Supreme just like the Maiden Voyage. The one difference was that because of the bones, I left it in for four hours. It was still just […]

  15. […] (5 tbsp per quart of water) for an hour, sealed up with a pinch of sea salt & pat of butter, like here, then cooked at 146F for two hours. Click for the high quality […]

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