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Sous Vide: Breast of Chicken Parmesan (alla Parmigiana)

The debatable origin of this popular dish falls by the wayside as sous vide makes the perfection of its preparation simple.

Ingredients

Serves 2
Level of difficulty–3 out of 4!

Chicken breasts,, 2 each, approximately 5 oz/140 g each.
Salt, 1 teaspoon/lb/4 g.
Flour for dredging, approximately 1 oz/30 g.
Egg, one each.
Fine bread crumbs, approximately 8 oz/225 g, most of which will be left over for reuse.
Vegetable oil for frying the cutlets, approximately 4 oz/100 ml, most of which will be left over.

Mozzarella cheese, grated, 4 oz/120 g.
Parmesan cheese, grated, 1 oz/28 g.

Note: There are numerous proprietary versions of Marinara sauce readily available in your neighborhood market–they are all perfectly suitable for this dish, as per your preference. Should you prefer to make the one pictured in this commentary, the recipe is listed below:

Marinara sauce:

Olive oil or vegetable oil, 2 oz/ 60 ml.
Garlic, fresh, 0.5 oz/15 g, chopped coarsely.
Tomato paste, one 6 oz/160 g can.
Water, 6 oz/160 g can.
Oregano, dried, 1 Tablespoon.
Kosher Salt, 1 Tablespoon.
White pepper, 1 teaspoon.
White sugar, 1 teaspoon.

Fresh parsley, finally chopped, 1 bunch.
Butter, unsalted, 2 oz/60 g.

Equipment requirements

Immersion circulator, portable or stationary.
Heat rated container, minimum of 2 gallons/8 liters.
Heat rated sous vide bags.
Channel or chamber vacuum device.
Food processor.
Flat bottomed skillet, approximately 12″/30 cm.
Infrared thermometer (optional).
Conventional home oven with broiler attachment or propane torch.

 

Serves 2-4
Level of difficulty 3

Procedure:

Sauce:

Preheat the sous vide bath to

183 F/84 C. 

Simmer the garlic in olive/vegetable oil on low heat in a saute pan until it softens–do not allow it to brown. Remove from heat. Combine the tomato paste, water, oregano, salt, white pepper, and white sugar in a food processor or blender and add the garlic. Process until smooth. Transfer to a Ziploc 1 gallon freezer bag.

Without sealing the zipper, slowly lower the bag into the bath. The bag will sink–make sure the water level just barely exceeds the top of the level of sauce in the bag–leave room to add water later. Rather than seal the bag, drape the opening over the edge of the bath. This “sans vide” (without vacuum) process is an alternative to attempting to seal a liquid in a vacuum bag, for those who have not experienced the difficulty in doing so. Hold in place with the container’s lid. Process for a minimum of one hour. Reduce the temperature setting on the immersion circulator to:

135 F/58 C

Add iced or cold water to bring the temperature down in the bath to approximately 150 F/55 C.

Seal the chicken breasts in heat rated vacuum bags and stage into the bath, which should now come down to the target temperature of 135 F/58 C. Continue processing for a minimum of

4 hours

After the time has elapsed, remove the chicken breasts from the bath and submerge in iced/tap water until they achieve 70 F/21 C. Refrigerate to 40 F/4 C. In this state they can be safely refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Remove the chicken breasts from the bags and pat dry with a clean towel.

Using a sharp knife, cut the chicken breast on the bias to create slices between 1-2 oz/30-60 g slices.

Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

Use a dredge or kitchen strainer to dust the chicken with flour on both sides.

Coat with beaten whole egg.

Drain well and coat with the crumbs.

Refrigerate the breaded breasts for one half hour on parchment or butcher paper that has been sprinkled with a few crumbs. This helps the breading to cling.

Service

Heat the skillet to approximately 275 F/135 C, add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan and put cutlets in the pan–do not crowd. There should be at least 1″/2.4 cm between each piece to facilitate even browning. Fry until brown on one side, brown on the other side, remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel. Pour out the used oil, wipe out the pan with a clean towel and repeat the process until all of the cutlets are browned.

Remove the sauce from the bath and pour carefully into a suitable container–it does not require any additional cooking. Add half of the chopped parsley and stir in the unsalted butter. Do not add heat. Cover the center of a plate(s) with 1-2 oz/30-60 ml of the sauce. Place the chicken cutlet(s) on top, sprinkle with mozzarella and melt in the oven using the broiler function or with the low flame on a propane torch. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley, serve with pasta and vegetable if desired.

Whether chicken is cooked through is always a concern in traditional methods. Antibiotic resistant pathogens have complicated the matter. Sous vide pasteurizes the chicken, adding an extra layer of safety. You will never cut into a piece of “pink” chicken again!

Norm King

 

 

About

"Alla Parmigiana" originated in Italy as a regional preparation of eggplant, which is very popular in Italy but somewhat less so in the United States. As veal and chicken were substituted stateside to satisfy demand, pounding the cutlets to considerable thinness was implemented to insure even cooking.

Sous vide makes mallet tenderization unnecessary in most cases because the chicken is already evenly cooked by the sous vide processing. If desired, the chicken breasts are still soft enough to be lightly "pounded out" or even sliced horizontally to the desired thickness and appearance.

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