When I reviewed Little Alley Steak last week, I didn’t fully express my geek admiration for the exemplary Springer Mountain chicken the kitchen prepares. The white and dark meat arrive fused together, perfectly juicy without being pink, and wrapped in perfectly crisped skin.
Think about it: have you ever made chicken that looks like this? It’s no simple recipe.
For starters, the kitchen uses a daub of transglutaminase — a binding agent for protein that chefs have dubbed “meat glue” to make the boneless dark and white meats adhere together and to a wrapping of chicken skin.
Next, the chef seals the chicken in an airtight, vacuum sealed plastic bag – a technique known by its French name, sous vide. The sealed bag then cooks gently in hot water, which is agitated and heated with an immersion circulator until it cooks thoroughly.
Before service, a cook removes the chicken from a bag and pops it into a fryer to crisp the skin and heat the interior. Sliced, then plated with a flavorful jus, this chicken tastes like the model of simplicity.
Many chefs today use advanced cooking techniques in this fashion — to enhance rather than to show off. In other words, they’ve started to move away from foam for its own sake.
But it also means that professional kitchens increasingly use equipment and techniques that most home cooks wouldn’t recognize.
Still, I wouldn’t mind learning how to incorporate a little transglutaminase into my own kitchen.
- by John Kessler for the Food & More blog