Sous-Vide Coq au Vin: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Accidental Locavore Sous Vide Coq au Vin (2)Not to start this off on too negative a note, however, this was probably the most unattractive coq au vin the Accidental Locavore has ever made! Even lovers of all things purple might find cause for (visual) alarm here. And I didn’t really want to post two sous-vide recipes back-to-back, but it’s what I’ve been up to, so let’s explore the good, the bad and the ugly.

The good: Tasty and tender chicken.

The bad: Seal on vacuum sealed bags broke as I took them out of the slow cooker, squirting sauce all over the counter. This was mitigated, slightly, by dumping the water out of the slow cooker (my improvised sous-vide machine) and tossing the leaky bags in to contain them. If I’m going to do more of this I need a better way of sealing the contents.

The ugly: Everything had a plum-purple tinge. It probably didn’t help that I used small “red” onions (they look pretty purple to me). An overnight marinade in red wine only helped enhance the purple haze.

The technique: Essentially I made coq au vin the way I normally do. Rendered some bacon, dredged chicken parts in flour and browned them. Tossed everything in a very large bag, vacuum sealed it and let it sit overnight in the fridge to marinate. Brought it to room temp, then placed it in a crock-pot with simmering water. Cooked on high for 4 hours and low for another 4. The idea was to then remove the chicken and reduce the sauce, which is what I did after mopping up what spilled all over the kitchen…

The verdict: Good but not substantially better than how I normally cook it (straight into the slow cooker). Now, since my “sous-vide machine” is a jerry-rigged slow cooker, doing it in a real machine might give a superior product. However, if you’re making anything that is cooked slowly, over low heat, I’m not sure how much the sous-vide process will add to the final product. With the salmon, it was quick, easy and a beautiful texture, same for duck confit. With my chicken, it was negligible and I missed the wonderful aroma and the ability to check, taste and adjust to make it great.

The next time: If I give it another shot, a good idea would be dividing up the chicken into portions to have smaller, more cooperative bags. I will also freeze or semi-freeze the wine mix so that doesn’t make a mess when sealing. As I write this, it’s sounding like a lot more work and time (cooking, cooling, freezing), so maybe for sous-vide, coq au vin is a thumbs down. What do you think?



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