Oriental Roasted Chicken Sous Vide is a vintage roast chicken recipe elevated by modern cooking techniques. The recipe comes originally from Presenting Boston…, a 1976 Junior League cookbook. Oven-baked chicken is a popular dish in my community cookbooks from the 70s and 80s, coinciding with changing dietary habits. (U.S. chicken consumption roughly doubled between 1960 and 1990.) These recipes fall into three general categories. The first encompasses chicken breasts cooked casserole style, usually smothered in canned soup and paired with veggies and starch. Second is oven-fried chicken, Shake n’ Bake style. Chicken is tossed in a batter or ‘crust‘ but baked instead of fried. And finally, we have oven-roasted chicken, usually bone-in chicken pieces marinated or brined and basted with sauce. Oriental Roasted Chicken falls into the latter category.
The perennial problem with oven-roasted chicken is that it’s prone to overcooking. I’ve had more dry chicken in my life than I’d care to remember. As my cooking skills have improved I’ve been able to make juicy chicken more reliably. Chicken thighs are easier to get right than breasts or drumsticks. A good marinade always helps. The original marinade for Oriental Roasted Chicken is salty and acidic, perfect for tender, juicy chicken. But for this recipe I decided to cheat.
Sous vide is the antidote to dry chicken. For those unfamiliar, sous vide uses a water bath with ultraprecise temperature control to cook foods, usually proteins. Over several hours the protein comes to equilibrium, ensuring that the protein cooks evenly from center to edge. The long cook times also allow food to cook safely at lower temperatures. Instead of aiming for the 165° F instant kill temperature for Salmonella, you can achieve the same pasteurization effect with a 2-3 hour cook at 140° F or below. At lower temperatures meats stay juicier longer.
Sous vide cooking methods were not available to home cooks in 1976. The technique was first described in the early 1970s, but didn’t find its way into restaurant kitchens for another decade or so. Affordable sous vide wasn’t available for home use until 2010. I received my first sous vide in 2019, and I’ve used it several times a week ever since. I use it mostly for steaks or pork roasts, but struggled with chicken at first. Eventually I determined that baked chicken worked best when I divided responsibilities evenly between the sous vide and the oven.
The original Oriental Roasted Chicken recipe calls for 90 minutes at 325° F. In my adaptation I’ve opted for a 2-3 hour pre-cook at 155° F, with a short finish in a 450° F. This ensures that the meat cooks through, but the hotter oven gives me rich caramel-colored chicken with crispy skin. I’ve used a similar pre-cook method for fried chicken and it works well here. You’re not going to get this kind of color in a cooler oven.
Otherwise I’ve presented the recipe exactly as written. The marinade is spot on and needs no adjustment. It bears a passing resemblance to a Filipino adobo.
Oriental Roasted Chicken Sous Vide was a big hit with the family, especially with my spouse. I serve it over a bowl of yakisoba and stir-fried veggies, using some of the reserved marinade for a stir-fry sauce. White rice would work well, also. As a bonus, the chicken is as good cold as it is fresh from the oven. Leftovers would work well for a picnic or an Asian-tinged chicken salad sandwich. I’m keeping this one at the front of my recipe box. Enjoy!
- 5-6 lb bone-in chicken thighs
- 1 cup soy sauce
- ⅔ cup rice vinegar
- 3 tbsp dried minced onion
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- Mix all ingredients together and add to a large ziploc bag. Alternatively, use a vacuum sealer to seal chicken and marinade together. Allow chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
- Set up your sous vide apparatus for 155° F
- Drain excess marinade from the bag and reseal, removing as much air as possible. (There should only be a few tbsp of marinade remaining).
- Leave chicken in the sous vide bath for 3-4 hours to cook through.
- Preheat your oven to 450° F.
- Drain excess liquid from the bag and reserve. Place chicken in a single layer on a large roasting pan or casserole dish.
- Bake 20-30 minutes until chicken is golden brown and starting to char at the edges. Baste with reserved cooking liquid once or twice while cooking.
- Serve over rice or noodles.