Category Archives: Caveman Grub (Meat)

Goodness in a bag. Orange honey ginger chicken sous vide

20140213-203146.jpgIt was the kind of day makes a mommy want to crawl into the worlds largest martini and google “boarding school.” Is kindergarden too early? Luckily I have a freezer full of the ultimate comfort food. My orange honey ginger chicken sous vide (and a glass of wine) comes to the rescue with its syrupy sweet goodness ready in minutes.

I make these in large batches and freeze them for emergencies and every day meals when there’s no time to cook.   It seems fancy so totally appropriate for a dinner party, all kids and adults love it, and it’s ready in about 15 minutes.  Ding, ding, winner!  Here’s what I do:  I spend an hour or less one afternoon preparing all the bags to go into the sous vide, I keep them in the bath overnight (6-8 hours) and in the morning plunge into a ice bath then toss them straight in the freezer. That’s all it takes to have several weeks worth of meals in the bag.

Step One – marinate the meat

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Marinate skinless, boneless chicken breasts in enough orange juice to cover. Leave them in the fridge for 30 minutes to 2 hours.  I had tangerines and blood oranges so that’s what I used, but I normally use just regular old OJ.

 

 

Step Two – prep the water bath

Prep your water bath and set the temp to 145.

Step Three – prep the bagsIMG_5028

I use a food savor but you could also use ziplock bags. If you opt for ziplock, make sure to use freezer bags and the old fashion click type, not the zipper type closure.

Put a few slices of orange, one slice of ginger about an inch long, a tablespoon of honey and one small pad of butter in each bag.

Step Four – bag and seal the meat

IMG_5056Take the chicken out of the marinade, do not rinse, and place one breast (or breast portion if you have portioned your breasts up for smaller serving sizes. I find that each breast is 2 or 3 portions for us, but we don’t eat much meat). Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper to each bag and vacuum seal. If using ziplock bags you will need to submerge the bags in the water bath almost to the top of the bag and carefully seal them as close to,the waterline as possible. The pressure of the water will force out the air.

Step Five – put in water bath for 4-8 hours

Step Six – submerge in ice for 5 – 10 minutes

Step Seven – put in freezer for later use or go directly to step eight

Step Eight – thaw the bag in a bowl of water

Step Nine – make the sauce

In a skillet melt a couple of tablespoons of butter.  Add to it a a 1/2 cup of OJ, then pour in a couple of tablespoons of honey and a pinch of salt.  Stir continuously over high heat until it starts to bubble up.   taste and adjust with extra honey, salt or juice as needed.

Step Ten – add the chicken to heat through

Add a chicken breast (and a couple of peeled tangerine sections if you have them) and cover for a couple of minutes, turn the chicken breast and cover for another couple of minutes.  Then take of the lid and if the sauce is too thin just remove the chicken, turn up the flame and let it bubble for a few minutes.  The sauce should be thick and syrupy.

IMG_5377For valentines day I did a variation on this using blood orange juice and topping with pomegranate seeds.

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Grass Fed Rancher Steak Sous Vide

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In Los Angeles we have an incredible butcher named Lindy and Grundy.  They carry only organic, local, pasture raised and grass fed meats, but the most unique part is that they are a snout to tail butcher.  Not only is the meat incredibly healthy, only grass fed on 100% organic small farms, but you can get really unique cuts. I feel better about my daughter eating it, and I know it’s sustainably raised so I can feel rather smug about my elitist home cooking.

The cut I was working with today was a rancher steak, also know as heart of the clod.   Although it sounds like a middle school insult, it comes from the shoulder clod and is a tough piece of meat only good for braising. This makes it an ideal cut to sous vide. I’ve never understood people who take an expensive New York and sous vide it. Instead I want to coax flavor and texture from more overlooked cuts that would normally require a lot of time and effort to prepare. My steaks came from the butcher already tenderized with a jaccard so all I had to do was marinate, bag and cook.

20140105-204958.jpgPrepare a marinade of Worcestershire and soy sauce. Place the steaks in a shallow pan and cover with marinade. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

Start sous vide warming to 133 (my Nomiku does a more precise temp of 132.7 but 133 will be fine)

20140105-205011.jpgRemove from marinade, season with salt and pepper and place in a food saver bag with sliced onions and mushrooms. I used some trumpet and crimini mushrooms but pretty much anything flavorful would work. Add one pad of butter in the bag and vacuum seal. The butter is critical to the flavor and texture. You won’t get the same result from olive oil. Under my links you can read serious eats steak sous vide primer. It discusses in ore depth the reason that butter is important. I placed mine in the 132.7 water for 16 hours plunged into an ice bath and then froze them for later meals for my daughter. One of the things I love about sous vide as a mom is that I make small portions that are easy to thaw and heat in minutes.

20140105-205058.jpgTo serve I thaw them in the sink, heat an iron skillet to searing hot, add butter and a drizzle of olive oil and sear on both sides. The steak is cooked to medium rare temperature so if you prefer medium or your kids won’t eat pink meat simply cook a bit longer on the skillet. The texture is amazing. Closer to a New York, and the flavor is fantastic.

Grandma ‘the butcher’

20130913-215408.jpgAfter a morning hosting my daughter’s 5th birthday party we did what most families do, we butchered a rabbit. Having purchased two wild Scottish hare from a restaurant food purveyor, we now needed to butcher the creatures and then sous vide the bunny parts. My mother is particularly good with a knife so we enlisted her help. I don’t think my daughter is scarred for life by the image of grandma shoving her hand into the bloody caracas of Thumper, but I might be. Don’t go up against grandma in a knife fight kids!

Young adult Thumper thumping his foot from Bambi
Young adult Thumper thumping his foot from Bambi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We looked up how to carve up the bunny on the internet and grandma went to town. My vegetarian sister almost threw up when she pulled out the heart, lungs and other bits.  We should have had a plan for those and cooked them up in some amazing gourmet interpretation of offal, but we had no idea what to do, so we just roasted them for our very lucky dog.

One thing to note.  Don’t start a process like this without a LOT of time on your hands.  We were really rushing things at the end and it was not ideal.   Here’s the thing,  bunny parts are small.  Very small.  They are hard to work with and for us non butchers hard to identify.  We had a little assembly line going with Grandma cutting up the parts.  My husband and I bagging them and putting in other ingredients then vacuum sealing with the food saver.

We put some in bags with wine, garlic, and rosemary.  Some got a beer and mustard mix with garlic.   Some just got salt and pepper and a dash of olive oil.  We put olive oil in all of them because the rabbit is such a lean meat.  Then we put in the sous vide.  We tossed it all in a bath at 145 (I think) but we left them in way way too long.  We left them in overnight  if memory serves but to be honest with all the present unwrapping and kids melting down I’m not entirely sure.  I somehow lost my notes in the process so I’m sort of winging it (did I mention that I’m a fairly shitty scientist?)   What I do know is that the taste was amazing but the texture was not.  Most of the parts were too soft although the legs and thighs were quite nice.  Turns out  it’s important to correctly identify the parts and cook them separately and at different temps.   Something called the “saddle” apparently doesn’t sous vide well at all.  I suppose I should have made a rabbit stew with all the bits that are too delicate to sous vide, but did I mention this was the day of my daughter’s birthday party?

Stefan’s Gourmet Blog did a great rabbit test  and he concluded that for farmed rabbit 8 hours at 165 was like a traditional braise.   Next time I will listen to Stefan!  I was cooking wild hare, not farmed rabbit so it would be more tough to begin with and would require more experimentation.  We had very very mixed results and because I can’t find my notes we’re going to have to repeat this the next time grandma comes to town and we feel like traumatizing my sister.

I’d chalk this one up to a fail…but a really tasty fail.  What I can say for sure is that the red wine, garlic and rosemary was fantastic as was the beer and mustard mix.  Both equally tasty and I’d do it again but only with the legs and thighs.