Sous Vide: Chicken Thighs with Red Wine Sauce and Mushrooms

Relegating the unassuming dark meat to the kids' menu while adults eat "gourmet" entrées is a culinary paradox. Thighs have much to offer.


Chicken thighs, boneless, skinless,  6 each.
Powdered egg white, as needed, or fresh, one each.
1 Tablespoon kosher salt and a pinch each of smoked paprika, thyme, and parsley.

Bacon, crisped, one slice, broken into six pieces.

Vegetable oil, 2 oz/60 ml.
Mushrooms, Cremini, 6 oz/180 g.
Garlic, 6 cloves, thoroughly crushed.
Red wine, 12 oz/350 ml.
Flour, approximately 1 oz/30 g.
Water/stock/Sous Jus totaling 1 cup/225 ml.
Pearl onions, 4 oz/120 mg.
Pan Sauce Base, approximately 2 cups (one recipe).

Chopped parsley, as needed.
Cherry tomatoes, multi-colored, 9 each, cut in half.
Fresh thyme, 6 sprigs (optional).









Equipment requirements
Immersion circulator, portable or stationary.
Heat rated container.
Sous vide racks.
Heat rated sous vide bags.
Flat bottomed skillet, approximately 12″/30 cm.
Infrared and/or probe thermometer.

Above: Lipavi C15 container, N15 polycarbonate racks. Lipavi C15L-UNIR lid. Note: on the left, thighs, bone-in, skin on. On the right, boneless skinless (2).

Actual prep time, 3 hours
Serves 6
Level of difficulty: 3.25


Preheat the sous vide bath to
132 F/56 C

Vacuum seal the chicken in dedicated heat rated sous vide bags. Sous vide process at 132 F/56 C for 6 hours to pasteurize. When the interval has elapsed, submerge the packages in iced tap water until they achieve 70 F/21 C–approximately half an hour. Refrigerate at 40 F/4 C for at least two hours before proceeding.

The sealed packages can be stored at 40 F/4 C for at least two weeks without sacrificing quality or wholesomeness. Try that with fresh poultry! While you wait for the chicken, make the all important pan sauce base, explained HERE.

Day of Service–Seasoning

Remove the packages from the refrigerator. Remove the chicken from the bags.

Harvest the juices. Clarify this Sous Jus/consommé according to the method explained HERE. Set aside.

Stage the thighs onto a rack (or clean work surface).

Dust lightly with powdered egg white or coat with fresh. This restores the sticky surface of the meat that is altered by all cooking processes.

Use a spray bottle filled with water to moisten the surface–not necessary if you use fresh egg whites.

Season according to the instructions on the ingredients list, or as per your preference.

Turn the chicken over and repeat the seasoning process.

Use a sifter or dredge to dust both sides very lightly with flour. This prevents the surface of the chicken from scorching or drying out.


Heat the skillet to 250 F/121 C–medium high. Add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan–approximately 2 oz/60 ml.

Add the chicken–be careful not to crowd the pan. You should hear mild sizzling. To prevent sticking, resist the urge to move the chicken for at least 2 minutes. The hope is to complete the browning process one side at a time. Watch the edges of the thighs to detect the level of browning.

Turn the thighs over and complete the browning process. Remove the thighs from the pan and keep warm while you make the sauce–I use an oven set on 170 F/77 C.

Add the mushrooms and the garlic; stir to coat with the residual oil in the pan.

Sauté for as long as possible without browning the garlic–about 10 minutes.

Add the 2 cups/450 ml red wine.

Reduce the wine completely. Remember, wine in sauces contributes flavor and even color, but it is not intended to provide volume. If the red wine is not fully reduced, your sauce may come out more purple than brown. Listen to the pan! As the volume of the oil begins to exceed the volume of the wine, what was once hissing will become sizzling. This is a sign of success. Turn off the burner for the moment.

Add just enough flour to coat the vegetables and absorb the oil in the pan.

This is not a roux. Do not attempt to “cook” it, or it will clot and refuse to dissolve when you add water/stock.

Add half of the water/stock/Sous Jus and turn on the burner again. Stir lightly and the sauce will tighten immediately.

Add the remaining water/stock/Sous Jus. Simmer for thirty minutes to achieve desired appearance and thickness. Add the pearl onions and return to simmer. If the sauce is too thin for your liking, combine 2 teaspoons corn starch with 1 oz/30 ml water and add to the simmering sauce–it will thicken immediately. Check for seasoning, add the chicken to the pan but do not boil again. The sauce cannot penetrate the chicken–further cooking will transform the meat into dry shreds.

Stage a thigh onto a plate and ladle the sauce over it. Garnish with a sliver of crisp bacon, cherry tomatoes, chopped parsley and a sprig of fresh thyme.

Juicier than any breast.

Norm King



Geneticists devote their efforts to breeding chickens with larger and larger breasts. Meanwhile, thighs (and legs) are treated as a nuisance; something to feed the youngsters. They are too expensive to throw away but too plebeian to serve adults, much less guests.

But "dark" meat is not even really dark. It is underrated. It is delicious and perfectly wholesome. Skin removed, it is even guilt free. White meat aficionados worry about whether their main course will be overcooked and dry. Meanwhile, dark meat devotees know that thighs (and legs) are nearly oblivious to extremes in time and temperature during the cooking process.