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I'm finally going to advance my sous vide repertoire from just steaks to poultry. I know the safety issues and am familiar with the salmonella death rate chart. What I'm wondering about is the texture of the meat itself.

I've been cooking chicken on the grill and in the oven and in the pan and have grown used to a particular texture for the meat. Most of these techniques end up taking the breast meat up to the 160-165 F range.

With sous vide I have a much better control over what temperature I can safely eat the meat at, however I don't want the texture to drive me away from the experience. I was thinking of preparing the chicken at around 150-155.

Does anyone have any experience with poultry at these lower temperatures?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Go for 145. 2 hours.

Salmonella dies even at "low" temperatures (from 135) as long as you cook it for longer.

135 for at least 87 minutes, will kill salmonella.

However, I like it best when cooked at 145 for 2 hours.

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How does the texture compared to the 160-165 range? –  Brian Feb 12 '12 at 18:04
    
145 compared to 165. 145 will have amore "juicy" bite to it. It will be notning like an ordinary roasted chickenbreast. It will have a lovely "poached" feel. –  Ronni Plindstrup Feb 12 '12 at 19:05
    
Pot wound up running a little hot and I ended up at around 150 internal. Was magical nonetheless. The heat wasn't as even at 145 compared to 130 (my steak temp) which I hadn't immediately accounted for. Next time I'll be sure to drop it 5 and go for 145. –  Brian Feb 13 '12 at 2:51
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I find 58C (136F) for 2.5+ hours to give the best results. I experimented with 60 and 62C for a little while but found that there is considerable moisture loss once you get above 60. Longer cooking times don't matter much; I've forgotten about the meat on more than one occasion and left it overnight (8-9 hours?) with no adverse impact on the final product. I personally found chicken breast after 24 hours unappealing, but my partner liked it - I would describe the texture as 70% meat, 30% cake? I would avoid shorter times though - 2.5 hours is usually well inside the safe margins for the thickness of meat I'm using according to Doug Baldwin's models.

However the biggest (positive) difference in the result has been from switching meat suppliers, and in a literally eye-opening way too: Organic chicken breast makes for a significantly nicer result every single time!

We actually did blind testing across multiple batches of meat and across several weeks, and found we could pick the organic chicken with 100% accuracy. There are differences between even organic suppliers, but in general the stringiness was gone, the meat cut in straight lines without tearing or shredding along muscle fibres, and it was noticeably more moist and juicy.

I suspect that the difference comes largely from better quality feed and the fact that the animals tend to be (at least in Australia) slower-growing breeds and ~50% older when slaughtered, thus have more time to develop more flavourful muscles.

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