Hot Grill Summer, Vol. 5 – Sky’s out, (Chicken) Thighs out! 

Call it cheating, but I’ve recently discovered how much I love precision temperature cooking. 

Great chefs seem to have an extra sense for how hot to run a burner for a deep fry, or when the internal temp of an entrée is just perfect. 

 Me? I prefer to let technology do the work for me. 

Today’s dish is skin-on deboned chicken thighs plated atop a kale salad and yam puree. This week, we will break out the sous vide for this recipe, which I briefly referenced in the ribeye column. A quick primer: this method takes food tightly sealed in a bag and cooks it underwater at a specific temperature. 

(Of course, you can still get the same results by baking your chicken for 45 minutes in the oven, but where’s the fun in that? Join me in this brave new world and cook a chicken under some hot water!) 

Some history, first. I learned about sous viding from my cousins, who made a delicious filet mignon one holiday season. I was intrigued (remember, I’m a tech-lover), and decided to order my own. The idea that you could prepare your food perfectly and without heating your whole house up was one I could not pass up. I ordered an Anova sous vide with a plastic container and had some fun trying to figure it out. 

It did not come, though, without some major failings. Remember my friends who came to New York with us? Well, I cooked some chicken thighs for their family, and I thought I was safe because they cooked under the water at the temp for the appropriate time length. How embarrassed was I to see people cutting into pink chicken right under the skin when it was time to eat. So, even with technology, there is still room for some finesse. 

I learned that the optimal way to cook chicken with the sous vide is to find skin-on, boneless thighs. And guess what? Chicken thighs do not come that way. You either get skin on and bone in, or boneless skinless. For me, I politely ask the butcher at the local market to debone the thighs for me and leave the skin on. After an understandably dirty look, they oblige, and I have the chicken the way I need it. You can try to debone yourself, but you’ll never be as good as a butcher. Fact. 

Once the chicken has been in the sous vide, it’s technically cooked, but not ready to serve. The last and most important part of the sous vide is the finish. Same as with the ribeye, you heat a skillet to the highest setting and sear the skin until it’s perfectly browned. Your chicken will look weird at first before you finish it. That is completely normal. 

I found this particular recipe online, and it changed the chicken game for me. My personal favorite cut of the chicken is the thigh, and this leave crispy skin on top with juicy meat right beneath. And when you combine with the magic of a kale salad and sweet potato purée, you’ll have a dish that harmonizes all areas of your taste buds. 

As always, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy if you try. 

Ingredients (Serves 4) 

Chicken thighs 

Eight bone out, skin on chicken thighs 

Salt 

Pepper 

Olive Oil 

 

Kale salad 

1 lb bag of kale, shredded 

2 tbsp pine nuts 

2 tbsp golden raisins 

Shredded asiago cheese to top 

Squeezed lemon 

 

Sweet potato purée 

4 sweet potatoes, peeled, diced and roasted 

¼ cup heavy whipping cream 

1 tsp cinnamon 

 

Directions 

  1. Coat skin side of chicken with salt and pepper. 
  2. Prepare chicken either in the sous vide to 165 degrees for 1 hour or in the oven at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. 
  3. While chicken is cooking, boil sweet potatoes for 30 minutes. 
  4. Massage the shredded kale to tenderize. 
  5. Combine kale, raisins, pine nuts and lemon juice in a bowl. 
  6. Lightly cover top of salad with shredded asiago cheese. 
  7. Put roasted sweet potatoes into a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. 
  8. Pour sweet potatoes into a mixing bowl and add heavy whipping cream and cinnamon. 
  9. Mix together until purée is consistent color. 
  10. To plate: spread purée over the middle of the plate. Add kale salad, and top with finished chicken thighs. 
  11. Enjoy!

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