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Most folks eat a lot of chicken. In 2019, the average U.S. citizen consumed nearly 96 pounds of chicken.
Taking into account that chickens weigh around 5 pounds at slaughter, that means one person can be responsible for consuming almost 20 full chickens a year.
And, the variety of ways that you can cook and consume all 20 of your yearly ration of chickens is immense.
Chicken wings, chicken chili, chicken nuggets, chicken pie, fried chicken, roast chicken, rotisserie chicken, and even vacuum sealed chicken.
Cooking chicken in vacuum sealed bags may not initially seem like the easiest or the most flavorful way to serve up any of your 20 yearly chickens, but there are a variety of surprising benefits to preparing chicken in a vacuum sealed bag.
Sous Vide Chicken
One of the most useful ways to utilize vacuum sealed bags when cooking chicken is to use an immersion circulator.
Immersion circulators are useful gadgets that are used to cook things sous vide.
This method of cooking allows you to maintain a consistent temperature of a pot of water so that you can cook things at a consistent rate.
Sous Vide literally translates to “under vacuum” in French, so the idea is that you literally seal your food inside a perfectly controlled environment where there is no chance for things being too raw or becoming burnt.
This video from Bon Appetit gives you a fun little glimpse of what sous vide chicken breast looks and tastes like.
It is absolutely necessary to have a well sealed bag when cooking with an immersion circulator.
If you do not have a properly sealed bag when you submerge your food, your chicken will not come out the way you want it to – especially with regard to texture.
Furthermore, any herbs, seasonings, or extra ingredients you put in your vacuum sealed bag to flavor your sous vide chicken may leak out or be diluted by the water in your pot if your bags are not sealed well.
You will also need to make sure that, if you are cooking more than one piece of chicken meat, you do not pile your pieces of meat on top of one another or allow them to be too close together.
If you sous vide multiple slices of meat too close together, your end product could turn into a bit of a frankenstein blob.
If done properly, however, sous vide chicken can be a great place to start to get perfectly cooked chicken for things like chicken pot pie or (after a quick sear) perfectly cooked chicken breasts.
You can also use vacuum sealed bags and a sous vide machine to carefully cook more than just chicken breast meat.
Chicken thighs are one of the fattiest parts of the chicken.
Using a vacuum sealed bag and an immersion blender to cook up a couple of thighs can be a great way to get chicken thighs that are juicy and inherently flavorful.
However, with fattier pieces of chicken meat, you will have to be conscientious of how long you cook the meat.
Fat and muscle in meat have different chemical compositions.
As a result, fattier pieces of meat will more than likely require a longer amount of time submerged with an immersion circulator.
If you do not make sure to cook fatty pieces of meat well enough, the fat can form an unpleasant texture.
A sou vide machine can also be a great tool for making something like chicken liver pate.
Liver – especially chicken liver – that is not cooked enough can cause you to be very sick, and liver of any kind that is cooked too much takes on a pretty unpleasant texture.
Sealing chicken livers up in a vacuum sealed bag and cooking them with a sous vide machine to make pate is a great way to navigate a recipe that requires a certain degree of precision.
More than Just Sous Vide
Cooking chicken in vacuum sealed bags is not always necessarily limited to cooking with an immersion circulator.
If you do not have an immersion blender, you can choose to simply boil your vacuum sealed chicken without the assistance of a precision tool.
Generally, however, boiling vacuum sealed foods is more common if you are reheating something that has already been cooked and then preserved in a vacuum sealed bag.
However, there is nothing stopping you from making poached chicken in a vacuum sealed bag, it can be a great start to chicken pie filling.
Microwaving vacuum sealed food is a possibility if you have the proper bags for microwaving, and you make sure to ventilate the bags so steam can escape before you cook.
As far as proper bags are concerned, you will not want to microwave a plastic bag that contains BPA or other harmful chemicals.
BPA is frequently used in plastic products – like food storage containers and vacuum seal bags – and is thought to be detrimental to human growth and reproduction because of the influence it has on hormones in the body.
Microwaving chicken in a vacuum sealed bag is, even more so than boiling vacuum sealed chicken, only a decent idea if you are reheating something that has already been cooked.
Microwaving raw chicken is an unreliable cooking method because of the lack of control and precision that you can achieve with a microwave.
You may quickly end up with an undercooked piece of chicken or a rubbery piece of plastic-y meat that no one wants to eat if you opt to cook raw chicken in a vacuum sealed bag with a microwave.
One interesting yet unconventional way to utilize vacuum seal bags when cooking chicken, is to use a dishwasher.
Dishwasher chicken, though really more of a novelty cooking experiment than a gourmand-go-to, can be perfectly executed with high heat safe vacuum seal bags and a hi-heat dishwasher.
Utilizing vacuum sealed bags in this context is especially useful as you can run a load of dirty dishes and cook up dinner at the same time without having to worry about getting soap in your food.
To cook chicken in the dishwasher, you will need to ensure that your dishwasher can get the internal temperature of your chicken to at least 165 degrees fahrenheit.
Chicken that is not cooked to that internal temperature is not safe for consumption because of the heightened risk of foodborne illnesses when consuming undercooked chicken.
The minimum temperature that most dishwashers run to is somewhere around 120 degrees fahrenheit, and the maximum temperature in your everyday dishwasher can fall anywhere between 150 – 170+ degrees fahrenheit.
Be sure that you are aware of the temperature settings on your dishwasher before attempting to cook anything in it, and always check the internal temperature of any kind of meat that you have cooked with your dishes before you go to eat it.
Best Types of Vacuum Seal Bags for Cooking Chicken
No matter what part of the chicken you are utilizing a vacuum seal bag to cook, as already alluded to, when cooking chicken in vacuum sealed bags, one of the most important things to make sure of is that you have a tight seal on your vacuum sealed bags.
A proper seal relies on the quality of your vacuum sealer and your vacuum sealer bags more than anything else.
When thinking about what types of vacuum seal bags are going to be the best tools for cooking chicken, you have to consider a few different things.
Firstly, what type of vacuum sealer you have. There are a couple different versions on the market that only work with particular kinds of bags.
Be sure to read the information on the bags you choose to ensure that your vacuum sealer and vacuum sealer bags are compatible with one another.
Beyond this, you will need to ensure that the vacuum seal bags you choose are durable enough to withstand heat from cooking and large enough to properly seal the cuts of chicken you are wanting to cook.
The White Dolphin 2Pack Recycled Vacuum Sealer Bags Rolls (view at Amazon) are a great set of durable vacuum seal bags that can be perfect for cooking chicken.
These vacuum seal bags are made from thick, recycled material, so not only are they durable, but they are environmentally friendly as well.
You can use these vacuum seal bags in a steamer or microwave. These bags are high temperature resistant.
These bags also have a food grade antibacterial layer which is a great tool if you want to vacuum seal chicken you have already cooked and worry that it might go off before you get around to eating it.
Generally speaking, keeping something vacuumed sealed in the freezer will keep it good nearly indefinitely.
However, an antibacterial layer can be useful if you find that you accidentally leave your chicken in the fridge a little too long to de-thaw.
HuisPark 6×8 Inch Vacuum Sealer Bags,Heavy Duty Pre-Cut Design Commercial Grade Food Sealable Bag for Heat Seal Food Storage,Smell Proof Bags Boilsafe to 280°F Freezable, Resizable,Reuseable (100Pcs) (View at Amazon) are another great option that would work well for sous vide cooking or cooking chicken in the dishwasher.
These bags are precut smell proof bags that are safe to use in temperatures up to 280 degrees fahrenheit.
These vacuum sealer bags are also BPA free and made of FDA approved materials.
Additionally, these bags are compatible with all types of sealer bag machines and come in seven different size combinations so that you can get the perfect fit for whatever slice of chicken you choose to cook.
Featured image credit: Shutterstock.com Image ID: 1900311616