Sous vide, which means “under vacuum” in French, refers to the process of vacuum-sealing food in a bag, then cooking it to a very precise temperature in a water bath. This technique produces results that are impossible to achieve through any other cooking method. – Anovaculinary
Our sous vide station.
I have been cooking for a long time, starting in the late 1970’s. First as a prep cook in a neighborhood restaurant, while in high school, making beer money. I had no passion for food at the time. I was still feeling my way through life, not sure what I was going to do. Slowly, and I mean really slowly, I found that I not only was pretty good at cooking, I was actually enjoying it. Looking back I don’t think it was the food that I was falling for. Rather, I was an impressionable young man who enjoyed the camaraderie, the manual work and the fact that a free beer was never far from reach. However, the more I cooked and discovered new foods my passion finally blossomed…I digress.
This post is supposed to be about sous vide, my digression stems from- In those many years of cooking there have been a few techniques or processes that I have learned which have changed the way I cook and think about food. Cooking sous vide is probably the biggest one for me, with whole animal butchery / charcuterie being a close second (see my 10 part “Death of a Pig” blog post).
When I first encountered cooking sous vide I remember thinking- cooking something in a pot of water in a plastic bag…how lame; what skill does that take? Well, I was quite wrong.
About 14 years ago we started experimenting using a big pot of water, Ziplock Bags and an instant read thermometer on a burner where we would constantly check the temp and adjust the heat. I quickly realized that this was a great cooking method. We could perfectly cook a piece of meat ahead of time, taking the guess work and timing with a lot more possibilities of screwing something up out of the equation. Once the meat was cooked ahead of time, perfectly, all we had to do is once the customer ordered and it was time to pick-up the meat all you had to do give a quick sear to the meat and serve it. No more inexperienced cook fucking-up an expensive piece of meat.
lamb leg in the immersion circulator
lamb loin going into an ice bath after being immersed
duck confit, made sous vide
Our experiments started with meats using the ziplock method, now we have several immersion circulators and a restaurant size vacuum sealer that are in constant use cooking all sorts of different things; red meats, burgers, chicken, vegetables, eggs, fish and even an occasional pudding for part of a dessert. Gone are the days of over cooked chicken breast (sorry, Trisha), every chicken breast we serve is moist and tender.
My initial trepidation was replaced with “why wouldn’t we cook this way”…a little bit more forethought (prep before service) equals serving a better, more consistent product, it only makes sense.
Sous vide cooking is not just for the professional kitchen, My Anova immersion circulator and FoodSaver vacuum sealer have been an integral parts of my home kitchen for the past 10 years.
I highly recommend all cooks- pros, wanna-be pros and amateurs to get into sous vide cooking.
The below link is to an informative article in Bon Appetit Magazine.