Sous Vide: Buffalo Legs and Thighs, Jerk Seasoning

This recipe harmonizes American style pub cuisine with the spicy, tasty Jamaican catchall seasoning.


Chicken legs and thighs, 2 each.
Flour, approximately 0.25 cups/30 g. for the paste.
Egg whites, 2 each.
Kosher salt, 2 teaspoons per lb/450 g of chicken.

Flour for sifting/shaking, 1 cup/240 ml.
Frank’s RedHot original or equivalent, 2 oz/60 ml.
Butter, 2 oz/60 ml.

Jerk seasoning:
Cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon.
Allspice, 1 Tablespoon.
Paprika, 1 Tablespoon.
Ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon.
Oregano, 1 Tablespoon.
Garlic powder, 1 Tablespoon.
Sugar, 1 teaspoon.

Carrots, 1 each.
Celery, 2 stalks.
Romaine lettuce, 0.25 heads, outer leaves discarded.
Blue cheese dressing, 2 oz/60 ml.

Deep Frying:
Shortening or vegetable oil, 1 quart/1 liter.
Note: After deep frying, many people do not know what to do with the leftover oil. Many people discard it. Not only is this practice expensive, it is unnecessary! Allow the oil cool to 200 F/94 C. Line a colander with a paper towel and carefully strain the oil through it into an sauce pan.

Transfer to an appropriate container with a lid. Refrigerate at 40 F/4 C. and it will keep for at least 2 weeks. Avoid exposing it to light. It can be used for almost any recipe that calls for vegetable oil EXCEPT salad dressing.

Save your money:
This is another reason not to purchase a dedicated home deep fryer–there is no impetus to clean the oil after each use. The deep fryer is usually just put away with the dirty oil still in it. Oil absorbs flavor like a sponge absorbs water. It is also very vulnerable to rancidity and light. They don’t tell you this on the label. One wonders why the manufacturers always put it in clear containers. If it goes bad, they know you will have to buy more.

Equipment requirements
Immersion circulator, portable or stationary.
Heat rated container, minimum of 2 gallons/8 liters.
Heat rated sous vide bags.
Flat bottomed skillet, approximately 12″/30 cm. and 3″/90 mm deep.
Plastic squirt bottle.
Kitchen tongs.
Flour shaker/sifter.
Infrared or probe thermometer.

Serves 2
Level of difficulty 2.25

Preheat the sous vide bath to
135 F/57 C

Vacuum seal the individual pieces of chicken in separate bags. One piece per bag makes it easier to cold shock them later and easier to organize and store in the refrigerator. It also allows you to choose just how much chicken is needed for a particular situation without exposing all the other pieces to the elements.

You can use all the chicken at once or you can prepare just one piece at a time. Sealed packages of processed proteins like chicken are pasteurized, so as long as they stay sealed, they will have an extended shelf life. Once the packaging is opened, one should use the product within four days.

Process the chicken at 135 F/57 C for a minimum of 4 hours and as long as 8 hours, whatever is more convenient for you! Because of the precise temperatures used in sous vide, the chicken cannot overcook.

After processing, shock the bags in iced water until they reach 70 F/21 C. Refrigerate at 40 F/4 C until use. Now you can execute your favorite recipe at your convenience without devoting an entire day to preparing it.

Day of service:

Submerge the refrigerated packages of chicken in hot water for five minutes to fully melt the gel. You can use hot tap water (125 F/52 C) or the sous vide bath if you are processing something simultaneously. Finish removing the chicken from the packaging.

Combine the the jerk seasoning ingredients in a plastic bag. I recommend this because there is a lot of pepper in the mix–it can make you sneeze and burn your eyes. If you mix by hand, make SURE you wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

Put the legs and thighs in a large bowl with the two egg whites, the flour, and the kosher salt. Mix well. Add HALF of the jerk seasoning and mix well again. Lay the chicken out on a sheet pan lined with parchment or butcher paper, skin side up. Wash and dry your hands. Sprinkle with half of the remaining jerk seasoning, turn the chicken over, and sprinkle with the rest of the seasoning.

Use the shaker or sifter to lightly sprinkle flour over one side of the chicken, and then the other, see below.

You will see that after a minute or two, the chicken will look wet again. Sprinkle two more times on each side–this will help the seasoning cling to the chicken. Set aside for ten minutes–this will also help the crust to cling.

Cut the Romaine lettuce as thin as possible and arrange in the center of a platter. Peel the carrot, cut it in half lengthwise and then into strips. Cut the celery into strips about the same size as the carrots. Arrange around the lettuce. Put a small cup of blue cheese dressing on the platter.

Put the Frank’s red hot sauce in the squirt bottle. Melt the 2 oz/60 ml butter and add to the squirt bottle; shake well. Set aside.

Melt the oil in the skillet. The skillet should never  be more than half full of oil to prevent boiling over. Preheat to 300 F/150 C. Shake off the excess flour and add one piece of chicken to the pan. Use a spatula to slide it around a bit so it does not settle in one place on the bottom. Repeat the process and make sure you do not crowd the pan. This creates a gigantic mess.

If your skillet is smaller, do the chicken in batches. At first, the temperature of the oil will go down to 250 F/121 C or thereabouts. Do not let the oil go below 250 F/121 C. Turn up the burner if necessary.

Fry the chicken until it achieves the desired color. This will take 5-6 minutes.

If you have ever wondered whether the chicken is hot all the way through, there is a way to tell without using a thermometer. It is not by appearance or by touch (don’t do that!). It is by listening. If you stay on the station while the chicken fries, you will become accustomed to the steady bubbling sound of the frying process. Keep listening. At a certain moment you will hear an increase in the sound of the frying chicken. It will sound as if somebody has added a few drops of water to the hot oil. This means that the moisture in the chicken is hot enough to start vaporizing out of the chicken into the surrounding oil. This means that the chicken is hot all the way through. If you do nothing, the chicken will eventually float due to the loss of moisture. We want to catch it just before it does that.

Take the chicken out of the fryer. Let it rest on a paper towel for a couple of minutes so it is easier to handle. You will see that there is almost no oil on the paper towel. That means that the correct temperature was used. The chicken itself cannot absorb oil. Nothing can penetrate the surface of the chicken except salt, but water can and will come out. If fried chicken is greasy, it is because the batter/breading absorbed oil. Breading can absorb a LOT of oil, especially if the oil is not hot enough to force steam out of the chicken.

Arrange the legs and thighs on top of the lettuce. Drizzle each piece with the sauce in the squirt bottle.

This is how they do it in downtown Buffalo, if they do it in downtown Buffalo. If you serve the sauce on the side, the chicken will maintain its crispness. It’s great both ways.

It is nice to know that you need not fear encountering pink on the bone.

Stay tuned!

Norm King



Depending on my audience, I might call this dish "Buffalo Soldiers Legs 'n' Thighs." The play on words refers first to a pub snack made famous in Buffalo, NY made with chicken wings, spicy vinegar sauce, blue cheese dressing, carrots and celery sticks.

"Buffalo Soldier" is Jamaican Reggae musical jargon that refers to African infantrymen in the post-civil war American cavalry, Jamaica's best known culinary export is "jerk seasoning." Jerk is a pasty concoction whose flavor depends on habanero peppers, allspice and other seasonings. In this case, the jerk seasoning is used as a coating for the legs and thighs, which are then deep fried and served in the manner of Buffalo wings.

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