A sous vide twist on a timeless classic, chicken piccata. In this recipe, we wanted to focus on making two things great – the sauce and the chicken. We kept the sauce simple with only fresh ingredients. However, the flavors of the sauce emulsify in the sous vide to create a heavenly, tangy sauce.
For the chicken, the typical chicken piccata recipe calls for flattened chicken breasts. But where is the juiciness in that?! We decided to shake things up and go with chicken thighs, which are incredibly tender done sous vide.
Combine great sauce and juicy chicken thighs together, and you’ve got a chicken piccata that is bound to impress your guests.
Bone in or Boneless Chicken Thighs?
The first step is determining whether you should purchase bone in or boneless chicken thighs for this recipe. The quick answer, either cut will result in tender, juicy meat.
We prefer using bone-in chicken thighs. They tend to be juicer and more flavorful, and the meat around the bone is to die for.
An essential part of cooking sous vide is putting ingredients in an air-tight bag or container. The two most common techniques to package your ingredients are vacuum sealing and using the water displacement method.
A vacuum sealer removes all the air and seals the contents of a plastic bag through a vacuum. This process ensures the food is airtight and properly sealed, and prevents the bag from floating which can result in uneven cooking. If you are in the market for a vacuum sealer, I’d recommend the Anova sealer.
The displacement method is a technique where you first place your food and marinades in a sous vide bag, submerge the bag in a container of water, and allow the pressure to force all the air out of the bag.
Either method works for this recipe. Since we are adding sauce in the bag, please make sure your vacuum sealer is capable of sealing liquids. If not, please use the displacement method.
Chicken Thigh Time and Temperature
Our personal favorite is cooking chicken thighs at 74C/165F for 1 1/2 hours. Cooking the meat for this duration results in a tender, juicy bird that Thomas Keller would be proud of. Furthermore, cooking at a temperature of 165F ensures that the chicken is fully cooked to the bone.
Although this combination of time and temperature is our favorite, we recommend you explore different combinations to find your personal favorite. Our cooking guide can always help you find your perfect time and temperature.
Can You Sous Vide Frozen Chicken Thighs?
The quick answer is, absolutely! Cooking frozen foods sous vide is an ultra convenient, safe way to prepare your protein. Just take the food directly from the fridge, repackage it (unless you know the bag is sous vide safe) and let the sous vide work its magic.
The only thing you’ll need to adjust is the cook time. If you are cooking frozen chicken thighs sous vide we recommend adding an additional hour to the cook time, so two hours and 30 minutes total for thighs.
Recommended Searing Methods for Chicken Thighs
Searing is by far the most important step in cooking sous vide. If want your food to look like it is Michelin star quality, you are going to have to get a rich sear on it. Failing to do so will make your dinner guests wonder why they let you cook again.
If you want an amazing sear, you’ve got to:
1. Pat the meat completely dry with a paper towel
2. Season generously with salt or seasoning of your choice
3. Sear at extremely high temperatures.
At this point you want to determine the best searing method. For chicken piccata, we suggest pan searing. The trick is getting the pan extremely hot, then searing for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. This results in a quick, high-quality sear without drying out the thighs.
Sous Vide Machine – This one is obvious. To cook sous vide, you’re going to need a device to precisely regulate the temperature of the bath water. The two best sous vide machines in the game right now are the Anova Precision Cooker and the Breville Joule.
The main difference between the two is that with the Anova you can control the device both manually and with a mobile device, and with the Joule you can only control the device by using your mobile device. Either way, both sous vide machines are top class and you can’t go wrong with either choice.
12-quart Container – Although you can use a basic stockpot for your sous vide cooking needs, I highly recommend buying a large plastic container. They are inexpensive and spacious, so you won’t have to worry about cooking a big roast in a small pot. I recommend a 12 quart Rubbermaid container, as it is BPA free, sturdy, and large enough for just about anything you will be cooking.
Container Lid – If you are going to buy a plastic container, I highly suggest buying a compatible lid for it. When you sous vide for a long duration, the heat of the water causes evaporation. With a lid, it eliminates a majority of the evaporation so you can cook for hours care-free.
Cast Iron Skillet – If you are looking to take your searing game to the next level, we recommend investing in a cast iron skillet. By using a cast iron in this recipe, you’ll achieve a deep sear on the protein. Cast irons are also extremely handy for searing just about any and all sous vide meat. Lodge offers the best quality and price, which is why it is our favorite cast iron brand.
Check out our full list of recommended gear here.
Chicken Piccata Sous Vide Style
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
- 1/4 cup fresh italian parlsey, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Set sous vide machine to 74C/165F.
Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper to taste. Place chicken in freezer bag with chicken stock, 2 Tbsp of butter, fresh lemon juice and rinsed capers. Remove the air through a vacuum sealer or the displacement method. Drop the bag in the bath for an hour and a half.
Remove bag from bath. Take chicken out of the bag and pat dry. Set the bag containing the liquids to the side for the sauce.
Heat up large skillet on medium high. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil and 2 Tbsp of butter. When the butter and oil begin the sizzle, add in chicken thighs skin-side down for 1 minute, or until browned. Flip and cook other side for 1 minute. Remove chicken thighs from skillet, and place on plate to rest.
Add the liquids from the bag in to the skillet. Bring liquid to a simmer, and cook for 2 minutes. Return chicken back to the pan for 1 minute, and baste the chicken with the sauce. Remove skillet from heat, garnish with chopped parsley and enjoy!