Sous Vide or not Sous Vide

….that is the question, and we hope to help answer that question and take out the mystery of the sous vide. 

   Sous - vide  (/suːˈviːd/; French for "under vacuum") is a method of  cooking  in which food is placed in a plastic pouch or a glass jar and then placed in a water bath or steam environment for longer than normal  cooking  times (usually 1 to 7 hours, up to 48 or more in some cases) at an accurately regulated temperature.

 Sous-vide (/suːˈviːd/; French for "under vacuum") is a method of cooking in which food is placed in a plastic pouch or a glass jar and then placed in a water bath or steam environment for longer than normal cooking times (usually 1 to 7 hours, up to 48 or more in some cases) at an accurately regulated temperature.

 

We have found this method of cooking extraordinarily helpful when catering large parties that involve temperature sensitive meats.  Some great examples are filet mignon, pork chops, t-bone steak, chicken breast etc. The wonderful thing about sous vide meats is that you can cook it to the perfect temperature every time.  No need to worry about undercooking the chicken or overcooking the steak you can just pop it in the sous vide bath and let it cook.   Of course first you will need to get your set up put together. Some items you will need before you get cooking are:

An Immersion Circulator

A large Lexan or pot

Freezer zipper bags or a vacuum sealer

Plastic wrap or foil to cover the container

Cast iron skillet if you are planning to sear off the meat

Once you have your set up you can begin.  Below is the process of using sous vide technique to cook pork loin to be used in sandwiches.  By using this process we are able to cook the pork loin all of the way through without losing a bunch of the moisture to ensure that our sandwiches are not dry. 

HOLD IT!!!

To truly master the craft of sous vide cooking one must understand that you are still cooking and not using a magic set it and forget it tool for quick and easy meals.  It is true sous vide cooking can when given enough forethought, make for quick day of cooking times but one must adhere to the same rules every professional chef worth their salt should be following:

Rule 1: In regards to high end expensive product, especially animal proteins but this also applies to your expensive farmers market produce, don’t fuck it up!

            Over cooking, over salting, or over spicing (especially when using astringent ingredients) are the worst offences any cook can commit

Rule 2: When considering any cooking method with quality products always think augmentation, not transformation.

            Leave the transformation to the molecular gastronomes.  Flavor enhancement lies in the chemical potential of whatever piece of food you just forked over good money for.

Rule 3: Time and Temperature will make or break you.

            Whether searing, frying, braising or using sous vide, understanding how hot and how long your food needs to be cooked. Whether it is to break down connective tissues over long periods of low temperature cooking or attempting to not damage tender tissues of more luxurious product through short high heat cooking, know your product and if you don’t, do some research.

Rule 4: Solubility is the difference between good food and great food

            Especially with regards to creating new flavor compounds within food without adding any “secret ingredients” respect the fact that every piece of produce you buy has its own unique bouquet of potential flavors depending on how you treat it. Before you start throwing marinades onto your expensive high end, locally grown, grass fed, free range, fair trade, wild caught, beer finished, humanely dispatched, nose to tail butchered, wagyu style tomato, do some research.

            Understanding what components of an ingredient undergo a chemical or molecular change and what the end result of said change tastes, smells, and looks like, regardless of spices herbs or seasoning, depend on its chosen environment in which heat is applied and can mean the difference between making basic ketchup, a wonderful pasta sauce, or the most indulgent tomato bisque just by adding water fat or alcohol to stewing tomatoes.  Adding high acid vinegar will bring out flavor compounds that we have come to identify as ketchup, and if augmented Texas and west coast style barbeque sauces.  Whereas adding alcohol such as wine or vodka to said tomatoes will result in flavor compounds that can only be broken down in the presents alcohol and results in a classic red sauce flavor that we identify with spaghetti sauce.  Cook a batch of heirloom cherry tomatoes low and slow submerged in fat, drain them emulsify them with cream, maybe even an egg yolk if you’re feeling adventurous and you have the most luxurious bisque without having to buy lobster.

Rule 5:  the Maillard reaction: Sear your meat

            With the exception of boiled (i.e. corned beef) or “white” preparations such as risotto or vissysuas most delectable dishes make use of the Maillard effect, which is when either boiled braised or raw proteins are exposed to high heat to cause a reaction between amino acids and reduced sugars produces a browning of the exterior of said protein either before or after the primary cooking method. This produces hundreds of new flavor compounds and textural differences that can take a dish from dinner to fine dining.

What does this have to do with sous vide cooking?

End part 1, part 2 to follow

-Sean Cardamone