The art of Sous Vide
Last Christmas my son gave me a new kitchen gadget called a Sous Vide. I’m pretty sure the expression on my face probably disappointed him because I had no idea what it was. He said it had something to do with water immersion cooking. I’m positive I was still confused.
A few hours later I spent some time on the internet learning about this new tool that I had and it took absolutely no time for me to ‘get it’. When you cook something in the Sous Vide you can never overcook because you set the temperature for how well done you like your food. The perfect (in my book anyway) medium rare steak is only 129F/54C, therefore my water should never be more than 129F/54C.
The trick is understanding how many hours you need to cook the meat at the desired temperature to have it be done all the way through. This means that the width of the meat is more important that weight of the meat. You also have to understand that cooking meats this way means that the grain of the meat can change, often for the better, on meats of lesser quality (chuck or round roast, flat iron or skirt steaks, etc).
It didn’t take me long to take to this new method of cooking – I’ve made veggies, beef, pork, chicken, lamb, eggs and all kinds of things. So far I haven’t had one fail (knock on wood).
There are several large perks for water immersion cooking, but there are some drawbacks as well.
- You can’t overcook things
- The kitchen never gets overheated (which is good since I live in Arizona)
- Most things go into the water without a lot of pre-work
- Historically tough cuts of meat become filet mignon soft and will cut like butter
- If you love the smell of dinner in the oven, you’re going to miss it
- The food is cooked, but not necessarily hot when you eat it (this can be considered a perk too)
- Patience Grasshopper – some types of meat will take between 18 – 72 hours to cook (but it’s so worth it)
- Be aware of the water temp an your countertop because extended cooks with hot, hot water can cause granite to crack or burn formica.
- To be safe you should make sure your SV pan is on top of hot-pads, privets or something else that creates distance. I use my cutting block and a hot pad.
The bottom line is since I’ve had the new gadget I’ve used it more than I’ve used the oven. I am an extremely good traditional cook, but with the sous vide the amount of time I spend fussing had dropped dramatically. The sous vide cooks are always perfectly cooked from edge to edge. I’m learning how to season the food I cook after the cook but before the sear. I’ve also spent time making chutney’s and other sauces to go over meats which I hadn’t before. It’s challenging and fun and so far I’ve been very successful in my efforts.