sous vide chix wing aftermath (19)

Sous Vide Oven Fried Party Wings, the Aftermath

The rarified air of party atmosphere.

Using food to entertain people is a universal key to social fellowship. People everywhere love food, and use it to show hospitality and caring. The poorer the host, the greater the love that accompanies a donated meal.  Good food is the great equalizer, it can cross any cultural barrier. It’s hard to remain enemies when you have joined each other at table for a meal. Add some wine in Western culture, and you may be elevated to ally status.

In the case of a special menu, you must NEVER run out of food. Running out of food reverses the positive effect that you have on people, and can turn you into the enemy of the mob state. There is nothing like the expression of disappointment on a guest’s face when you tell them that your are “OUT” of something.

Gratitude must always exceed expectation.

Restaurants cringe at the prospect of overage. A chef can only come up with so many daily lunch specials to clear out all those “leftovers.” But sous vide, and the philosophy behind it, changes the whole paradigm of the leftover.

With sous vide, and well informed sanitation practiced before, during, and immediately after your event, there is no longer any such thing as a leftover. Leftovers simply become prepared food, which is what you offered your guests in the first place. No longer need today’s steak, chicken, or pork chop deteriorate into a shrunken, dried out relic only vaguely reminiscent of its original incarnation. As we will see.

Have chicken, will cross road.

I hosted a recent event in my home, featuring sous vide products, synergized with familiar offerings. Two days before the party, I processed ten lbs. of generic “party” wings, @140F/60Cx6 hours. I shocked them to 70F/21C in ice water to avoid temperature contaminating anything in the refrigerator. This could have been done a week, or even two weeks in advance, as long as the seal on the packaging wasn’t cracked, and safe refrigerator temperatures were maintained. After all–the wings are pasteurized. Like a carton of milk from the store.

This one goes out to Louis. Pasteur, that is.

Expiration dates notwithstanding, if you don’t break the seal on that carton of milk, it will last a long, long time. Pasteur was a great man.

The day before the party, I laid out half the chicken wings in a flat pan and sprinkled generously with my fried chicken mix, flipping them and repeating the process. If I had planned to finish these the same day, I would have used egg white to attach the coating, but with 24 hours ahead of me, the egg whites are not necessary to make the breading cling–it will do so on its own.

As it turned out, we didn’t serve the chicken at the party–we went directly to the lamb, venison, and water buffalo courses. This could create a waste crisis if traditional methods had been used. But, they weren’t. The crisis was averted–and not even narrowly.

The day AFTER the party, I decided to turn those wings into our dinner, along with some other ingredients that we had “left over.” They could easily have been kept another two days before finishing for service. Only sous vide can offer this level of shelf life, without sterilization through pressure canning. Sterilization can make most foods shelf stable, but it typically alters the characteristics of the product beyond recognition.

See the recipe section for details of the procedure!

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