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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I can't believe I'm only just finding this out now, but experiments with chicken thighs and salmon have just blown me away.

First efforts were with skin-on-bone-in chicken thighs:
Remove only the fat "chunks," leaving the smooth fat next to the meat in place. Salt skin while still damp and rack skin-up in the fridge for 48 hours.
Sear skin side on highest heat I could evenly produce with gas range, when crisp reduce heat and flip, and cover. You can add herbs and seasoning here. I used the lowest setting on my gas range, just enough for a barely perceptible sizzle.
I flipped 2 more times to insure even heating throughout, removed when internal reached 160F

This chicken tasted just like butter, honestly, truly transformed, and was as soft as butter! Perfect juiciness. Made wonderful pan sauce with the remains there just by skimming fat and adding a bit of water.

With Salmon (farmed Atlantic):
Again started by searing the skin, then reduced heat, salted and spooned some oil over the top, flipped and covered.
Again flipped twice more, adding herbs/seasoning third flip. internal temp of 120F and plate.

Again, texture throughout like juicy butter, and the Salmon-butter (as I like to call its fat) was better than I'd ever experienced before.

So you really have to try this if you haven't already.
 

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The sauted cutlet or chop is not something I do much of anymore. For those cuts now it's usually sous vide then sear. I also enjoy how that frees me up more for other things.

How do you rate sous vide against this technique in results?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
The sauted cutlet or chop is not something I do much of anymore. For those cuts now it's usually sous vide then sear. I also enjoy how that frees me up more for other things.

How do you rate sous vide against this technique in results?
Sorry I can't definitely evaluate as I have yet to mess with sous-vide. But my spidy-sense, and understanding of the thermics involved here, tells me the end result would not be the same/as good. I don't think you'd have the flavor in the chicken or the pan sauce. And then there's the drying of the chicken skin that can't be skipped to have the full effect. And I couldn't imagine how in the world you'd get a better effect with the salmon. And time-wise there's really no saving in these applications because cook-time is still relatively short. Chicken and fish really don't require any tenderizing, you just don't want any significant amount of flesh getting over-heated.

PS With the salmon the "fat" seemed wonderfully apparent in all parts of the flesh, I had never experienced that with conventional pan temperature cooking here. Both meats went directly from refrigerator to pan
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Reminds me of this way I used to cook chicken (haven't made it like that for a while):
Yes, it just requires the heat management and stopping at a 160F internal. Sous vide you could even go for a 140F internal, but you would have to cook much longer to kill the red-juice taste. Though I don't think you get that butter taste of my thighs with the braise. Hesston Blumenthal "roasts" a whole chicken variant at 140F for 4 hours.

BTW, I added a PS to my previous comment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I start thighs skin side down in a cold pan and let render till crisp then flip and finish. It's a technique Pepin showed once.
I like FF do duck breast that way. After my first attempt at duck I realized that thick layer of fat was a powerful insulator. But try the method just as I described, I think you'll be as surprised as I was.
 

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Wait -- actually that cold pan thing doesn't quite work with chicken. I know the Pépin trick, and I was just about to mention it. This is how he does it:
Get your pan hot -- it helps to use nonstick or seasoned cast iron -- and put in your chicken (thighs work best), skin-side down, seasoned and so on as usual. Cook over pretty ripping heat until the skin is crispy and deep gold (7-8 minutes, usually), then DO NOT TURN. Instead, cover the pan and turn the heat down quite low. In about 15 minutes do a temperature check; it usually takes about 20. At the very end, when the chicken is cooked through, remove the cover, crank the heat, and sear just a little longer to re-crisp the skin, which will have softened somewhat from all the steam going on.
I find that this works much better with really good chicken, like from a farm. If you use standard supermarket chicken with 300% retained water or whatever it is (yes, exaggeration, I know), it can be very hard to deal with all the liquid that gets driven out during the covered cooking period.
The fabulous thing about this technique, I find, is that you can start the chicken thighs and then pretty much ignore them while you do everything else for your meal. Just listen, and you can tell when it's getting really crisp because it'll start to fry. Set a timer for 15 minutes when you cover the chicken and keep working. At the end, you've got lovely juicy chicken with crisp, golden skin, and you've barely had to pay the slightest attention to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Wait -- actually that cold pan thing doesn't quite work with chicken. I know the Pépin trick, and I was just about to mention it. This is how he does it:
Get your pan hot -- it helps to use nonstick or seasoned cast iron -- and put in your chicken (thighs work best), skin-side down, seasoned and so on as usual. Cook over pretty ripping heat until the skin is crispy and deep gold (7-8 minutes, usually), then DO NOT TURN. Instead, cover the pan and turn the heat down quite low. In about 15 minutes do a temperature check; it usually takes about 20. At the very end, when the chicken is cooked through, remove the cover, crank the heat, and sear just a little longer to re-crisp the skin, which will have softened somewhat from all the steam going on.
I find that this works much better with really good chicken, like from a farm. If you use standard supermarket chicken with 300% retained water or whatever it is (yes, exaggeration, I know), it can be very hard to deal with all the liquid that gets driven out during the covered cooking period.
The fabulous thing about this technique, I find, is that you can start the chicken thighs and then pretty much ignore them while you do everything else for your meal. Just listen, and you can tell when it's getting really crisp because it'll start to fry. Set a timer for 15 minutes when you cover the chicken and keep working. At the end, you've got lovely juicy chicken with crisp, golden skin, and you've barely had to pay the slightest attention to it.
This is certainly easier, and more in line with the heating profile I shoot for. I'd say the method I described produces a better result. This evening I added a twist to my technique. For a cover I used a small rack, paper towel and kitchen towel folded to 4 layers. This not only insulates perfectly but also lets the moisture escape and eliminates softening of the crisped skin.

FWIW, my preferred herbs at the moment are Rosemary and Tyme.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Interesting. So you're trapping some big fraction of the heat to cook through, but not enough to produce softening. I will try this next time I do it. Thanks!
There are actually 3 avenues at work here. Technically, the water vapor is sucked up by/passes thru the towel and heat is retained keeping vapor density low. Also there is no condensation collecting to drip down and puddle up the pan, soaking the skin directly or creating more vapor. Skin up or skin down your "crispy" is safe. :)

I have some similar oven tricks I considered, for a second, to market some ovenware based on this, but all my other "great inventions" always fell victim to marketing prowess lack.
 

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I can't believe I'm only just finding this out now, but experiments with chicken thighs and salmon have just blown me away.

First efforts were with skin-on-bone-in chicken thighs:
Remove only the fat "chunks," leaving the smooth fat next to the meat in place. Salt skin while still damp and rack skin-up in the fridge for 48 hours.
Sear skin side on highest heat I could evenly produce with gas range, when crisp reduce heat and flip, and cover. You can add herbs and seasoning here. I used the lowest setting on my gas range, just enough for a barely perceptible sizzle.
I flipped 2 more times to insure even heating throughout, removed when internal reached 160F

This chicken tasted just like butter, honestly, truly transformed, and was as soft as butter! Perfect juiciness. Made wonderful pan sauce with the remains there just by skimming fat and adding a bit of water.

With Salmon (farmed Atlantic):
Again started by searing the skin, then reduced heat, salted and spooned some oil over the top, flipped and covered.
Again flipped twice more, adding herbs/seasoning third flip. internal temp of 120F and plate.

Again, texture throughout like juicy butter, and the Salmon-butter (as I like to call its fat) was better than I'd ever experienced before.

So you really have to try this if you haven't already.
Do you think it would be a good idea to sear it. And then into say a 200-degree oven?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Do you think it would be a good idea to sear it. And then into say a 200-degree oven?
Humidity temp gradient conditions would be different, and that will matter a little. Also I am very energy conscious and don't use my oven at all in summer, and avoid using it in general.

I've tried the air fryer since I wrote this post. It's much easier, and good. I actually do it most often now that way, but doesn't get quite the same result. The AF works great though when you want to take a breast (or thigh) from frozen. I set mine for 150F (an approximation with any AF I think), and it cooks thoroughly and very fine in about 45min. I do flip it once or twice and check temp with a quick-read. Then I sear the skin.
 
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