Sous Vide Korean BBQ Chicken

Sous Vide

This Sous Vide Korean BBQ Chicken is the best of both worlds: sous vide means perfectly cooked chicken; grilling means crispy skin and char-grilled flavor. So good!

Photography Credit: Nick Evans

This post is brought to you in partnership with Joule: Sous Vide by ChefSteps.

There is one cooking technique that I’ve been turning to frequently in my kitchen this summer, and that’s sous vide!

With this technique, I can sous vide steaks, burgers, or chicken so they’re perfectly cooked (literally, perfectly), and then finish them on the grill to sear the outside and give them some char-grilled flavor.

WHAT IS SOUS VIDE COOKING?

For those of you who may be wondering, sous vide means “under vacuum” and it just means sealing your food, getting out as much air as possible, and then cooking it in a water bath at a very specific temperature. This used to involve a lot of fancy equipment, but these days all you need is a Joule sous vide cooker and the rest can be done easily and economically!

New to sous vide cooking? Start here!

WHY I LOVE SOUS VIDE COOKING

I think sous vide cooking is something that all home cooks should learn to do because it takes a lot of the stress out of cooking. You can prep your food in advance in the bags and then cook it when you have time.

You also don’t have to monitor the food while it cooks because it’s in a very controlled environment (similar to cooking in a pressure cooker or a slow cooker) and the results will be the same every time! After all, restaurant chefs use sous vide in order to efficiently reproduce identical meals for all their customers, and you can use it at home for the same reason!

Korean BBQ Chicken

HOW TO MAKE SOUS VIDE KOREAN BBQ CHICKEN

Grilled chicken is one of my go-to summer grilling recipes, but even so, I often struggle with making sure the chicken is cooked to a safe temperature without completely charring the outside.

Cooking the chicken sous vide and then finishing it on the grill completely removes this problem.

This recipe starts by covering the chicken in a homemade Korean-style BBQ sauce and then cooking it at a safe 158°F for three hours (you could also cook for up to five hours without any issues with the ). This is plenty of time to take your kids to soccer practice, run some errands, or relax with a book on the couch!

Then you finish the chicken on a hot grill while basting it in more sauce. The results are perfect Korean BBQ chicken. Every. Time.

NAILING THE TEMPERATURE FOR SOUS VIDE CHICKEN

The FDA recommends that you cook chicken to 165°F, but you can also safely cook chicken at a lower temperature as long as you cook it for long enough. I chose 158°F for this recipe because I think this temperature gives the chicken a fantastic firm but tender texture.

You can actually sous vide this chicken as low as 150°F and it will still be safely cooked. However, I find that at this temperature the chicken is almost too juicy and has an almost raw texture to it. No good for me. If you go too much higher you run the risk of overcooking the chicken once you finish it on the grill.

NO NEED FOR A VACUUM SEALER (UNLESS YOU HAVE ONE) 

It’s important that the chicken be well-sealed with as much air as possible removed from the bag. Unless you happen to have a vacuum sealer at home, you’ll have to call it close enough by using the water displacement method for removing air from the bags.

First, make sure your chicken is in one layer within the bag. It’s fine if they touch, but try not to overlap the pieces or have two pieces stacked on top of each other. Press out as much air as you can with your hands, and then partially seal the bag at the top so that air can still escape.

Then slowly submerge the bag into a pot of water, holding it by the seal at the top of the bag. The pressure of the water will force the air out of the bag, and then once you’ve submerged the bag up to the top, finish sealing the bag the rest of the way.

This effectively vacuum-seals your food without needing a vacuum sealer!

MAKE THIS SOUS VIDE CHICKEN FOR YOUR NEXT COOK OUT!

If you’ve ever considered diving into the world of sous vide, this recipe is a great place to start. The results are fantastic, either for a simple weeknight dinner or great for a casual backyard BBQ party.

Have questions about sous vide cooking? Leave a comment below!

MORE SOUS VIDE RECIPES TO TRY!

Watch the video!

 

Sous Vide Korean BBQ Chicken Recipe

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  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 3 hours
  • Grill time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 10, depending on how hungry you are!

This recipe can be easily halved to feed smaller crowds, or doubled to feed larger crowds.

Ingredients

  • 10 to 12 chicken bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (4 to 5 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/3 cup gochujang Korean chili sauce
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Sesame seeds, garnish
  • Scallions, garnish

Special equipment:

Method

1 Make the Korean BBQ sauce: Combine the hoisin sauce, gochujang, vinegar, honey, and soy sauce in a medium bowl. Stir together well and set aside.

2 Prepare the chicken: Rub the chicken with 1/3 cup or so of the sauce – enough so that all of the thighs are coated with a little sauce. Reserve the remaining sauce for basting the chicken later.

Place the thighs in a plastic freezer bag. Make sure the chicken is in a single layer; use two bags if you need to rather than overlapping the chicken.

3 Seal the chicken: With your hands, press out as much air as possible from the bag and partially seal the top. Slowly submerge the plastic bag in a pot filled with water up to the top of the bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Seal the bag the bag once you reach the top. (Read more here.)

At this point you can dry the bag and freeze the chicken for up to 3 months before cooking.

4 Heat the sous vide water bath: When you are ready to cook, add your Joule or other immersion circulator to the pot of water and heat to 158 degrees F.

5 Cook the chicken sous vide: Add chicken to the pot of hot water, making sure all of the chicken thighs are fully submerged in the water. Cook for 3 to 5 hours; the chicken is ready any time within this time frame. (Cook for at least 4 hours if cooking from frozen.)

Make sure your cooking bags are completely submerged in the water throughout the cooking time. I also like to rotate them once halfway through to make sure they are cooking evenly.

5 Heat a gas or charcoal grill to high heat: About 500°F or until you can hold your hand 1 inch over the grates for 1 to 2 seconds.

6 Finish the chicken on the grill: Remove the chicken from bags and transfer to a platter. Place the chicken skin-side up on the grill, and grill for 1 to 2 minutes. Baste with some of the extra sauce, then flip the chicken skin-side down.

Baste with some more sauce and grill for another 1 to 2 minutes. You should have some nice grill marks on both sides at this point. Continue to baste with BBQ sauce and flip a few times if you like. Remember, the chicken is already cooked at this point, so we're only grilling to sear the outside.

7 Serve! When chicken is grilled on both sides, remove it from the grill and transfer to a clean platter. Garnish with sesame seeds and scallions, and serve immediately.

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Nick Evans

Nick has been writing delicious recipes for the home cook for almost a decade. He lives in Denver, CO and embraces a delicate balance of diaper changing, trail running and beer drinking. His website is Macheesmo and his first book is Love Your Leftovers.

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