|The steaks getting a bath- sous vide style|
My newest love is the Sansaire Sous Vide Circulator. The device itself is easy to use. The learning curve surrounding the process and theory was not a big one, and we are once again talking about science and food in my kitchen. It makes me so happy. The food we create is amazing. The trout we sous vide was incredible. The best I have ever had. Truly. I think my husband agreed because he took a bite of trout and stated that it was the best $200.00 he ever spent. (He brought it for me for my birthday--a tremendously good gift).
So, is there really a difference? Yes, yes there is. The first meal I made was steak. I am currently getting my beef from Barham Farms just outside of Liberty, Missouri. We buy half of a side at a time so we get all kinds of cuts. The steaks are amazing. Even better cooked sous vide. The ability to vacuum seal the steaks, place the in a pot with the Sansaire Circulator and go for a run is worth the price alone.
|Vacuumed packed steaks ready for their water bath|
|Perfectly cooked steak with beer sautéed mushrooms|
|Sous Vide eggs|
Trout-- here is a picture of my trout- perfectly cooked and moist. It was truly incredible. I put it in a plastic bag and put it in the Sous Vide set at 113F/ 43C for 30 minutes.
I also made shrimp and scallops in the water bath and tossed in them in a Cajun cream sauce served over pasta with steamed broccoli. It was liberating to be able to drop the shrimps and scallops in the water bath and focus on the other parts of dinner. I have not made short ribs yet- I will soon. The pot roast I made was really good. A tender pot roast that is medium rare can only be achieved (to my knowledge) through sous vide. Wow, I am starting to sound like an infomerical.
|Shrimp and scallops sous vide in a Cajun cream sauce|
So here is some of the detail-- sous vide is French for "under vacuum." The simple act of cooking in a water bath at the final temperature desired changes the way I think about cooking in dramatics ways. As I have said before (my daughter will tell you I tell her this every chance I get) cooking is just a series of science experiments. Cooking is a wonderful mixture of physics, chemistry, and biology. Sous vide is my (and sometimes my family's) latest edible science experiment.
Ok back to the science. When we cook meat, we use heat to denature (change) the proteins in the meat (protein makes up approximately 1/5 of the meat, the rest being water and fat). Ordinarily, it is difficult to maintain a low enough temperature over time to break down the proteins so we cook meat for a shorter period of time over high temperature. The result is meat that is unevenly cooked-- often a perfectly cooked core and overcooked edges. With sous vide the meat is cooked at the desired temperature for a longer period of time and the result is an evenly cooked piece of meat from tip to tip.
Overcooking is not possible so timing is not as critical. Having said that if you do leave food too long in the sous vide it will turn to mush (I have not done this yet- but it is on the list). Vacuum packing the food prevents the air from insulating the food so the oxidation reactions are slow so there is less chance of unwanted color changes or off-flavors. At the lower temperatures the cell walls do not burst. In the case of cooking meat, tough collagen in connective tissue can be broken down, without heating the meat's proteins high enough that they denature to a degree that the meat is tough and dry.
The bottom line: I think sous vide (at least in my kitchen) is more than a passing fad. I think it is a wonderful way to cook but will not eliminate my grill, stove, or oven. My blow torch will be getting more use.