So...in my quest to perfect the everyday average chicken breast I have come to the conclusion that Sous Vide is the way to go.
For those of you who don't know, Sous vide is a cooking process whereby a product is cooked, in a vacuum, for a VERY long time At a VERY low temperature. This process keeps the product tender, moist, quite soft in texture, and locks in flavors that might other wise leach out in "normal" cooking processes. There is a whole chain of chemical and physical events that the product does (or does not) go through with this process but that is not important here. Whole books are dedicated to this cooking method so if you need to know more I recommend that you pick up a copy of Sous Vide Cuisine by Joan Roca. It'll set you back about $150 but it is money well spent.
So, back to the subject at hand.
I marinated a 12 oz chicken breast in a little soy and sesame oil for my first try. (when you vacuum seal proteins like this, the marinade is forced into the product at a much faster rate so long marination is unnecessary) After vacuum sealing the breast I cooked it at 158 degrees Fahrenheit for about 2 hours. Then I plunged it into an ice bath to rapid cool it. When I was ready to serve, it took just a few minutes in the broiler to bring it back to temp and I sliced it for presentation.
Let me tell you that this chicken was different from any other I have tried. the flesh was soft and supple. Reminiscent of a well done piece of salmon, in texture. The marinade was detectable right to the center of the breast but not in an overpowering fashion. The slightly salty flavor of the soy brought out the flavor of the chicken without masking it and without out taking over the entire flavor profile.
I am VERY pleased with this process and look forward to the next step which is trying to figure out how the heck to present and plate it. I'm thinking black "forbidden"rice! Maybe a nice ginger and lemongrass vinaigrette....
Til next time......