Hello, food-loving friends, and welcome back to a very tender instalment of Will It Sous Vide?, the weekly column where I make whatever you want me to with my immersion circulator (most of the time).
Hope you like photos of feet. Photos by Claire Lower.
I'm going to level with you all: this week really kicked my butt, and it resulted in me going off script. Though I turned in early Sunday night with grand intentions of rising before 8am - which is very early and very responsible for a writer that works from home - around 11:30pm, I was struck with either food poisoning or a stomach virus or the pure wrath of the devil himself. I'll spare you the details, but I was beyond useless for most of today.
When my fever went down, and I was able to open up my laptop, I checked out your suggestions and noticed a fair amount of enthusiasm for innards, specifically chicken hearts. I was excited about it, but it was not to be. My closest grocery store didn't have any, and honestly I was still pretty wiped-out and didn't feel like walking in the rain to another store.
I made an executive decision.
The good news is that I ordered some, and we will be sous vide-ing the heck out them next week. The better news is that I went rogue and decided to sous vide chicken feet this week. Given the fact that these guys are packed with collagen - and can come out rather chewy if you're not careful - they seemed like excellent contenders for our little experiment.
"I'm ready for my pedicure." - A footless chicken, I guess?
These particular feet came pre-peeled (but here's how to peel them if yours don't), so all I had to do was thaw them out and cut off the toes.
"That was a terrible pedicure." — Many chickens
Chicken feet are usually marinated - at least overnight - so once the chicken claws were relieved of their pokey tips, I tossed them with a marinade comprised of stuff I had in my fridge and pantry:
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 3/4 cup rice wine vinegar (In the future, I will be reducing this to 1/2 cup, and I suggest you do the same.)
- 1/2 cup fish sauce
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 1/2-inch piece of fresh garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
You can't claw your way out. (I'm sorry. I can't stop.)
I put everybody in a bag, and let it hang out for 24 hours at 80 degrees Celsius to let that collagen get all melty and the meat get nice and supple (and not chewy).
Getting handsy in the hot tub.
Then I did a lot of other things, because 24 hours is a lot of time. After a day of waiting - and like, living my life - I pulled the feet out of there and let them drain on a cooling rack.
"Tender" doesn't quite describe it. Not only were these the furthest thing from chewy, they were downright succulent, and were barely held together by their own skin. Speaking of that skin: it was a little flaccid, but that's okay, because Crisco exists.
Hello, lightness, my old friend.
I heated the cooking oil to 190 degrees Celsius and fried each foot until it was browned and crispy.
Won't you lend a hand? (I'm so, so sorry.)
I then whipped up a little sauce of sesame oil, honey, and a dipping sauce that had come with some poached chicken and rice I had ordered the night before from Nong's (which is very good by the way).
Now it's time to ask that question: Will chicken feet sous vide?
The answer: Mmhmm. Indeed they do, and they do it well. Not only were these fall-off-the-bone tender, and not at all chewy, but cooking them in the marinade made them super flavorful. After a quick dip in the fryer, their skin crisped up nicely and made for some damn fine snacking. They were like wings, only less meaty, and much more obviously part of an animal. The only thing I didn't love about them was the tiny bones.
Tiny bones in chubby hands. Actually, that's not true. I kind of liked those tiny little bones.