I am prone to grandstanding in my speech. I tend to have outrageously passionate feelings on just about anything. Stemless wine glasses, for example (I detest them. To me, they denote the backward evolution of mankind). I could easily be dubbed The Boy Who Cried Superlative Wolf. Why do I need this disclaimer? Well, I intend to discuss my most favorite best of all incredibly wonderful piece of cooking equipment. Technically, it is a method of cooking rather than a device. Sous vide cooking and sous vide machines.
|Left: Anova sous vide immersion circulator Right: Sous Vide Supreme Water Oven|
First of all, in some circles, an attitude exists around sous vide cooking. People have been cooking well for hundreds of years without them. Escoffier and Julia Child seemed to do just fine without them. MY roast chicken tastes great with just an oven and a pan! I get it. This is not meant to be antagonistic. I see the case for feeling like sous vide is cheating. It kind of is; that's what makes is so fantastic.I came across this article in the New York Times. So if you're interested in the workings of sous vide cooking as told by real journalism, read Farhad Manjoo's piece from November 20th: Bringing Sous Vide to the Home Cook and please report back.
If you'd like the long and winding SAJ version: sous vide is a method for cooking, mainly protein, in a precisely temperature-controlled water bath. The meat is cooked in a vacuum-sealed bag, seasoned. You can opt for just a tightly-zipped freezer bag, but I suggest vacuum sealing. With the excess air vacuumed out, the protein will stay submerged longer. A zip loc bag will float almost immediately.
|Barbie turned 2 on November 13. She shares her birthday with Whoopi Goldberg. I have a complicated history with Scorpios, but I can trust Barbie!|
Crank your oven up to 475 around hour 19. On the most aggressive convection setting your oven has. When browning meat, I always have a baking dish filled with hot water sitting atop an aluminum baking sheet on the bottom rack. I stumbled into this technique. This is a common practice in bread baking. One day last fall, I baked a loaf of bread, took it out, and put the chicken in to brown. Only when I checked the chicken about ten minutes and was dazzled by perfectly brown skin, did I remember the pan of water. This defies my intuition. I had always thought dry heat was best for browning. Try it! Put the water in the oven when you turn the oven on. Be careful when you open your oven, the steam sends a flash of heat out into the kitchen that stings a little. The idea is to create steam and humidity.
Once the meat is browned to your desire, take it out. Let it rest, and enjoy. The beauty is knowing the meat is fully cooked. The cooking at the end on the grill or in the oven is merely for color. Do you know how much more fun grilling is when your only concern is is it pretty yet? Not is that juice running pink or clear? it looks clearish pink...
I feel that cooking sous vide revolutionized my cooking. Cooking meat can be so annoying. Sometimes, even when everything is done right, it can still end up dry. Or overcooked. Or undercooked. This can rob attention from side dishes, setting tables, and greeting guests. I cant express just how convenient it is. It allows the cook to set a schedule and keep to it. I bought my first sous vide machine, the SousVide Supreme, in January 2011. I agonized over the decision for almost a year. I think it was about $400. A lot of money to spend on something you're not even sure will work. Sous vide cooking at home was far more rare than it is even now. The first thing I made was a pork tenderloin. Oh my god!! I was in disbelief when I tasted that pork. It was so perfect. So tender. So flavorful. I have even said that I would surrender my treasured KitchenAid mixer before I would give up the sous vide. It is that incredible of a tool.
|The salon Christmas tree, more on this later|
|My D.O.C. all summer. My favorite market had it on sale for $9.99. Not to be confused with white zinfandel.|
Anova Immersion Circulator/SousVide. The unit is $199, though a $179 unit is apparently set to debut. A $25 polycarbonate tank is recommended. With capacity to hold more than twice that of the SVS. So on Thanksgiving, coming off a tremendously successful sous vide turkey and a river of prosecco, I ordered it. I used it for the first time Tuesday (for Wednesday dinner), and I am thrilled with it. I'll write another post comparing the two units. I even bring it on vacation with me! Are you noticing a theme...?
|Easy to use display control|
|Unlike the SVS, the Anova unit has an immersion circulator. This keeps the water in the tub moving.|
|The unit that started the at-home sous vide revolution. You may read about the founders here: Sous Vide, Our Story|
|Showing its age and heavy use, but no worse for the wear. This injury was sustained cramming the lid into my trunk last Thanksgiving among the rest of my kitchen contents|
|The Anova has about double the capacity. Though it is louder than the Sous Vide Supreme, which is silent during operation.|
It's an expensive endeavor. I see it as worth its weight in gold. It makes cooking a meal so much more enjoyable, predictable, and delicious.
|Watermelon matchsticks and kosher salt.|
|I don't remember when I made this! There were a few weeks in July where I brought the same thing to a few parties. But it's a variation of a salad I make often in the summer. Grilled corn, diced cucumber, celery, bell pepper, and strawberry.|
FYI: None of the Amazon links are affiliate links, just general links for anyone interested.