Next week, August 21-23 2020, the second Sous Vide Summit of the International Sous Vide Association will be held. Because of COVID it will be a virtual conference, so the good news is you can join from anywhere. And I will be one of the speakers, presenting how to adapt classic stew recipes for sous vide! This post is one such adapted version of an Italian classic: pollo alla cacciatora. It would be great if you could join me at the conference! Use code SVSUMMIT15 to get 15% discount for a regular ticket, or FRIENDS30 to get $30 off VIP or Pro tickets.
“Alla cacciatora” means “in the style of the hunter’s wife”, and it generally refers to meat braised in a tomato sauce. And yes the roles in Italian recipe naming are very conventional: the man hunts, the woman prepares what he catches. You can find my classic version of this recipe here. Modern chickens do not really need low and slow cooking to become tender, but it is still great to prepare this recipe because of the tasty sauce.
Cooking this dish sous vide has as the advantage that the chicken will be super tender and moist. Leg meat of chicken is dark meat, so it will look pink. If you think this is undercooked, perhaps you should stick to the classic recipe, or increase the sous vide cooking temperature. However, if you do do, you may just as well prepare the classic version. This chicken was cooked for 24 hours at 60C/140F. 24 hours sounds like a long time, but it is actually quite convenient as you could prepare it the day before, drop it in the sous vide and just forget about it for the next 24 hours or so. It doesn’t really matter if you cook it for 20 hours or 24 hours or 28 hours. When it is time to serve, you can basically serve it straight from the bag. Of course this tastes better if you use organic / free range chicken.
For 2 servings
2 chicken legs
250 ml (1 cup) sieved tomatoes (passata di pomodoro, tomato puree, or canned tomatoes pureed in the food processor)
1 onion, 1 stick celery, 1 carrot, minced
fresh rosemary, parsley, and sage
1 clove garlic, minced
120 ml (1/2 cup) red wine
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and brown the chicken over medium-high heat until golden brown on both sides.
Take the chicken out of the pan and allow to cool on a plate. Add minced carrot, onion, sage, and rosemary to the pan without cleaning it.
Cook over medium heat, scraping with a wooden spatula to get any browned bits from the chicken that got stuck to the pan into the sauce, until the vegetables are golden.
Add minced garlic and stir for another minute. The garlic is added later to make sure it won’t be overcooked.
Deglaze the pan with the red wine. Stir over medium-high heat until the wine has reduced by half.
Add the sieved tomatoes.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Allow the sauce to simmer until nice and thick, stirring now and then. Turn off the heat and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. The sauce should be seasoned quite heavily, as the chicken will be seasoned by the sauce.
If you have a chamber vacuum sealer, chill both the sauce and the chicken completely in the refrigerator before vacuum sealing.
You could also put the chicken and sauce in a ziploc bag and use the water displacement method to close the bag with as little air as possible in it. In that case, no cooling is necessary.
Alternatively, you could freeze the sauce and vacuum seal it together with the chicken with a clamp style vacuum sealer (which doesn’t handle liquids well).
Make sure the chicken is surrounded with the sauce in the bag.
Cook sous vide for about 24 hours at 60C/140F.
To serve the chicken hot, take the sauce out of the bag and bring it to a boil, then turn off the heat.
Serve the chicken with the sauce, sprinkled with minced parsley.
This is great with a medium-bodied Chianti.
Today’s flashback is very appropriate, because this spezzatino of turkey is quite similar to pollo alla cacciatora. In Italian spezzatino means a stew in which the meat has been cut into pieces.