Tag Archives: sous vide cooking

What’s all this talk about Sous Vide, anyway?

The internet is such a wonderful thing. Rich with information (and, unfortunately mis/dis information) and debate. I have learned a tremendous amount of the very little I know and understand about sous vide cooking from several great internet sources. Recently, I discovered a site called Cooking Issues. These guys are the real deal – they have a cooking school and they do tons of cutting edge culinary magic including all sorts of experiments with chemicals and processes that we, the ordinary folks, have no concept is even going on.

I don’t make a habit of quoting big passages from other sites but since Cooking Issues is so dense and chocked full of information, I thought I would give you an exerpt which is, I hope going to give you some food for though regarding just what sous vide cooking is about. This is from the February 10, 2010 blog post of CookingIssues.com:

Sous-Vide Defined:

In contrast, the simplest way to define sous-vide may be to refer to its French meaning, “under vacuum.” Anything associated with a vacuum machine is sous-vide. In restaurants, the sous-vide process usually (but not always) consists of:

  • placing products into impervious plastic bags
  • putting those bags under vacuum
  • heat sealing those bags
  • releasing the vacuum
  • further manipulating, processing, or storing

This is where it gets confusing: sous-vide techniques are often used for low temperature cooking, but not all sous-vide cooking is low-temperature cooking. The classic example of this is boil-in-bag meals. The cooking medium is boiling water—not low temperature. Yet, because there is a vacuum process involved, it is sous-vide. That said, sous-vide is very effective for low-temp cooking because food inside the bags neither dries out nor loses flavor during prolonged cooking if proper temperature is maintained. The vacuum bags also eliminate evaporation and evaporative cooling. The temperature of the food’s surface becomes identical to the cooking temperature after a short time.

Chefs and diners alike often confuse sous-vide and low-temperature cooking. Sous-vide must involve a vacuum process; but the food may be cooked at high or low temperatures. About 90% of what cooks want to achieve with low temperature cooking can be achieved without a vacuum.

For the full article, you can go to here.

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Fanatic Falls For a Flight of Fancy: Duck, that is.

Ok, so were gonna have to do this one in stages. Feel free to send in any ideas you might have or things you would like me to try with this stuff. I don’t know what I am doing with it all. I just got a bug in my bonnet and had to have it. Here we go:

That’s my darling husband. (I purposefully cut off his head so he could stay incognito and so I could get you to focus on the box.) That’s the box sent to me after I placed an order with Hudson Valley Fois Gras. I was surprised that they just left it at the door and did not even ring the bell. Thank goodness I was home and watching for it! They make you pay for overnight delivery cause the stuff is really fresh. Needless to say, I didn’t have any issue with this.

That’s what the contents looked like before I unloaded the packages from inside of the styrofoam cooler which was inside of the box (who gave his father two zuzim). I was expecting, at least, some dry ice inside of that. But nooooooo, it was only Nordic Ice (a cold pak to you and me). Know what the Ruttles said when the learned that Leggy Mountbatten had left for a teaching job in Australia? Repeat after me in your best Liverpudlian accent: They were “shocked and stunned.”

After I unloaded the stuff, this is what the contents looked like:

So, what’s a girl to do??????

Coming soon to a blog near you: Sous Vide Duck Breast

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Channeling Tom Colicchio: Breast of Lamb Panini

So the meat from the lamb breast that came close to getting the better of me continued to be a challenge to my hopes of culinary greatness. Yes, it came off of the bones and out from in between the sinew very easily after a mere 48 hours in the 60C bath. Yes, it took the middle eastern flavors I placed in the vacuum with it like a Gyro takes to pita. And yes, that meat turned out to be flavorful, tender, succulent, and perfectly unctuous.

But still…what was I going to do with it?  I already told you that I could not find a single suggestion out there in the digital ether (Edit: see comments). I really thought something would come to me in a dream. So sorry. 

As I stood in my kitchen one morning thinking I barely had enough of this meat to put on a sandwich so why was I struggling over it so much, I spied a hunk of fresh ciabatta. Uhhh? Did somebody say sandwich? I immediately began to visualize Tom Colicchio and headed to the fridge. I grabbed a hunk of ordinary green cabbage that had otherwise been wasting away. With my mandoline, I thinly shredded it up. In a plastic container I put a couple of teaspoons of superfine sugar, some sesame oil and a healthy bit of rice wine vinegar. I hit it with some cayenne, stirred it till the sugar was dissolved and added the cabbage. By lunchtime, that cabbage would be lightly pickled and perfect for what I had in mind.

Thinking ahead, I brought out the lamb breast to let it come to room temperature. When my man and I were hungry for lunch, I sliced the bread and filled it with the meat topped with some sliced organic Fleur de Nord cheese from Whole Foods. This is an Edam type cheese with a medium creamy feel and a flavor strong enough to stand up to the lamb but not at all overpowering. I placed the sandwich in the Pam sprayed panini pan I got for free with my purchase of a bazillion dollars worth of All-Clad pots and put the press on top. Then I smushed the begeebers out of it for a good spell. 

I let it cook, turning once, over a medium-low fire until the cheese was nice and melty, the meat was plenty warm enough and the little bits of fat were gleaming.  Before serving, I stuffed the sandwich with as much of the slaw as I could keep between the two pieces of bread.

The sweetened vinegar dressing on the cabbage combined with the heavy middle Eastern spices to make a very tasty mid-day meal.

Next up: Quack, quack

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I recently acquired a Sous Vide Supreme.

I have been meaning to start a blog for a long while. Everybody who knows me knows I have a lot to say – especially about food. Read my About Me section and you will learn that food is my favorite subject, its one of the things I like to think about the most. But it was important for me to pick a place to start, otherwise I might just drown you to death with too many boring details or lots of very ancient history that may or may not be relevent now or ever. Then, you wouldn’t come back. And I don’t want to make you feel unwelcome.

ENTER THE MYSTERIOUS AND WONDERFUL SOUS VIDE SUPREME (“SVS”).

OMG, the moment I saw this thing I was possessed with the I wants. Generally, I suffer from BIG-TIME aparataphilia and this particular piece of aparatus made me drool with desire. I needed it. I wanted it. But what was I going to do with it? Nearly everyday for almost 4 months, I sat at my computer each morning, coffee in hand, wistfully pulling up the web page advertising this virtuous beauty (as if something was going to change?).  

Turns out that the SVS is a small, shiny, stainless steel wonder that makes sous vide cooking possible for the home cook without needing to have a long list of other gizmos in order to make it work. Sous vide cooking?

For these 4 months I have also been trolling the blogs looking at any and every mention of the thing I could find. After all, if I was going to shell out the nearly 500 smackers it would take to buy this puppy (as I knew, eventually, I would), I was damn well going to thoroughly investigate the thing first.

What did I learn? Sous vide cooking is here to stay. It has been around for decades and many of our favorite restaurants are using this method, whether we know it or not. When done properly, it is believed to be safe and healthy. SV cooking enables cooks to utilize lesser cuts of meat and to achieve great results with these, as well as that finer stuff. Some claim that a london broil will taste better than a filet mignon, when cooked SV! (I have to try this.) An item cooked sous vide retains more of its juicy, nutritious goodness than the same item cooked conventionally. The textures one can achieve with SV cooking are far superior to those obtained with other methods for many items we regularly prepare. There is lots more, but I will save it for later.

So, I did my usual thing. I googled and googled and googled leaving no google ungoogled. I read every comment on eGullet I could get down my own gullet. I was thrilled when I found a blog post on Ruhlman that included comments by the inventors/makers of the product explaining how the thing works and answering a number of questions I had. I put out an APB to friends out in the blogosphere and directly asked everyone to tell me what they could and what they knew about the SVS.

And then, I bought it.

Starting very soon, I am going to be telling you about my adventures with this culinary wonder. I am going to experiment as much as I can and I will report my findings to you as best as I can. This won’t be the only topic I wax poetic about on this blog, but it is where I will begin. I hope you will come and visit often and share your insights and comments as much as you like! It’s nice to meet you!

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