The awesomeness that is sous vide for pre-preparing weekly meals

I just wanted to let y’all know about the wonderfulness that is having a sous vide for preparing your meals.

I eat a lot of chicken (and broccoli). I’m also really busy with work and crap (who isn’t), which means that my available time is fairly limited for preparing meals etc. I personally tend to eat the same thing for lunch + dinner each day, because I don’t mind monotony, it makes it super easy to track my calories, and it means that I can just reach into the fridge and have a meal ready in about 5 minutes, including heat-up time in the microwave.

What I do is buy my chicken breasts in bulk from Costco. I then bag about 4-5 breasts per bag into large ziploc freezer bags (as much as I can fit in a single layer without too much overlap), and put a bit of flavour (light [less oil, more flavour stuff] sundried tomato + oregano salad dressing is my current favourite) in with them, then use the Archimedes principle to seal the bags.

Cook the chicken at @ 145-150F, for 3+ hours, and you can easily pull apart the meat so you now have pulled chicken. While the meat is not cooked to well-done, my research tells me that it is fully pasteurized at this point so you don’t have to worry about salmonella or other fun bacteria in your food.

Once they are cooked, I remove the liquid that comes off the chicken in the bags and reduce it in a pan, and mix it back in with the pulled meat to add more flavour. You can also add more flavour things at this point – I quite like adding a bit of pesto into the mix.

I find when cooking from frozen, it is necessary to remove air from the bags again about 45-60 minutes after the meat first goes in. Not entirely sure why so much more air comes off frozen meat, but there it is.

I cook 2-3 bags per batch (usually Sundays), which gives me most of a week of raw protein for meals. This takes about the same amount of time and effort as cooking off the meat in the oven then slicing it – probably less, even though I’m fast with a knife. Sous vide has the other advantage of making it pretty much impossible to overcook your meat – no more dry and boring chicken.

When I did one of my last batches, I ended up leaving the bags in the sous vide over night, and the only change was that the meat was completely broken down, so I have something closer to chicken pate rather than pulled. Not my favourite texture ever, but it’s still pretty good. I find for boneless skinless breasts, 3-4 hours is pretty much ideal.

You can use the sous vide to do lots more stuff, but this is what I use it for the most. It also does fantastic ribs, pork shoulder, fish, and pretty much any other meat you want. It isn’t a cheap appliance, but definitely worth the money in my mind, and there are cheaper ways to build yourself a sous vide if you want to put in the effort. I’ll cover that in another post.

Side note: my trick for making broccoli much more palatable: lay it out on a sheet pan, sprinkle a bit of olive oil over, add some salt + garlic, roast @ 400 for ~40 minutes in a conventional oven. I also do this in ~6lb batches to cover me for the week.

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