Friday, September 15, 2017

My Weekend Cooking Tip

In a word, two words, "sous vide." I was a fierce apostate until my daughter bought me the device last Christmas and a true believer ever since.

Granted my cooking is inspired by British chef, Heston Blumenthal, a champion of sous-vide but it wasn't until I tried it a couple of times that I became a total convert.

If you're unfamiliar with it, sous-vide is essentially water-bath cooking. The device itself is a combination precision heater and circulating pump. You take your food, put it in either a ziploc bag with the air carefully removed or, better yet, a foodsaver bag, get the water to the appropriate temperature, put the bag in the water and - wait.

It is not for the impatient. You must be prepared to wait, sometimes for hours. The way it works its magic is that it brings whatever you're cooking to the desired temperature, and not one degree more, all the way through. Once it's finished you remove it from the bag, pat it dry with paper towels, toss it into a preheated and very hot skillet, sear it for a couple of minutes (strictly for that great flavour) and serve.

It's not just meat either. You can sous-vide fish, vegetables, even eggs. If you can eat it, chances are you should be able to sous-vide it.

My kids really love my sous-vide burgers. Here's the drill. Two parts medium ground beef to one part ground pork. One red onion, minced. Blend in bread crumbs (Italian or panko), some fresh ground pepper, a moderate amount of Club House Montreal Steak Spice, a similar amount of Italian seasoning (to keep the salt content down) and, my secret ingredient - the North African spice, sumac.

I weigh the burgers, about 6 ounces, form them up, pop a couple into a foodsaver bag, vacuum seal them, and then into the water bath for 90 minutes at 134 degrees F. Out of the bag, dry them off, into the heated skilled for two minutes aside and then serve. You won't need a lot of condiments, slice of tomato and a little ketchup or mustard will probably do.  Pop one of those into a nice bun, add a bit of salad, and - dinner.

There are plenty of different devices available.  I got the one shown above for Christmas and it works just fine. Sometimes you can get one real cheap online. 


Les Smith said...

You can even use an open-topped bag, as long as you rig it up so the open top is above the water. The air will be excluded by the pressure of the water on the sides of the bag.

The Mound of Sound said...

Yeah, I've read about that technique, Les. The problem is I'm a bit of an oaf with this water thing. I went the foodsaver route became I don't trust myself to do it otherwise.

Those more adept in the culinary arts can achieve the sous-vide effect, from what I've read, without a dedicated device like the one I was given. Someone adept at controlling the heat in the water bath to within a few degrees either way of the recommended temperature can deservedly mock the rest of us and by "us" I mean me.

Anonymous said...

Your contraption Mound is a prime example of over-consumption.

Northern PoV said...

"Your contraption Mound is a prime example of over-consumption."

busted ;-)

Trailblazer said...

Here is my favourite way of cooking; the COBB
There are many alternatives to the gas or electric range.


The Mound of Sound said...

Seriously, if that's your idea of over-consumption, you're in a very strange frame of mind. But, thanks for playing.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of over-consumption what makes you think that anybody cares about what you intend to eat this weekend? Why do you write so many posts? You're just not that good. Here is a friendly tip, less is best.

deb Scott said...

I had never heard of this, at all, I love it. Thank you for sharing, im following your posts for many reasons, and I for one am always happy for quick new tips on how to make food interesting.
(my response was more to make sure the trolls dont sway the vote on what, how and when you share your insights:))

The Mound of Sound said...

Thank you for your "friendly" advice, Anon. I'll give it the consideration it deserves.

the salamander said...

.. 'every day, I go to school..' A quote from an associate who has been a house painter for almost 20 years.. I adapted it personally as 'every day I get schooled' .. thiugh I am a much better house painter now. The other day, I wandered across the street & said hi to the carpenter building a lovely front porch. Nice chat.. and he gave me an interesting tip re hiuse painting. I tried it, and it worked exactly as advertised.. so there you go

I'll discuss your cooking tip with the boss.. she's rescued me from the dark days where I used a lot of tinfoil while ruining various fish.. especially wild salmon and trout. I actually prefer using a fish basket + BBQ to achieve a 'blackened' or Cajun style.. but her baked fish on parchment technique is to die for.. whether fish filet or fish steaks..

Since we both love our red meat done exactly the same way.. ie rare.. we've refined our BBQ & oven technique in the last few years. We're both very slow eaters.. and accordingly do our steaks plus veggies in 2 or even 3 smaller batches. The extra effort means our food is actually hot, & not stone cold after 10 or 15 minutes.. sitting on a plate. Beans are steamed, my potatoes baked, hers cut small with olive oil and done on a pan on parchment. We seek out small tenderloin or I find a small tri-tip steak and cut into 2 or 3 quite thick pieces. We usually have a Zinfandel or Primativo with steak or fish. The Zin is an expensive treat of course but its only once a week.. so we 'go big or don't go' is our 'school of thought'

Here's a lovely anecdote for you.. & the anonymous persona you are awarding space and due 'considerstion' .. it made me laugh..

Once upon a time, a wine expert - writer - journalist had the opportunity to interview Baron Phillipe Von Rothschilde.. He had the temerity to inquire 'What was the very best wine you ever had, Baron?' The Baron took a long time.. for due consideration of course.. in fact, the interviewer began to wonder if the Baron was OK.. but then after several awkward minutes the Baron nodded his nead and provided the answer...

'It was a white peasant table wine.. in a stone hut. We were up in a high mountain pass in the Pyranees.. I was with my 6th wife, I believe..'

Rural said...

We dont have a fancy name for it but use a similar method to cook one of our favorite meals on our outdoor wood fired cookery. A variety of diced vegatables are placed in a pot with a lid that fits inside annother pot with a lid, the outer pot is half filled with water and the whole thing placed on the heat and brought to a slow boil for 1.5 to 2 hours. Serve directly from iner pot which stays hot with lid on for second serving (if your companions dont get there first!), we add died cheese and flavoring of our choice before cooking.
No special cooking gear needed and no baggies used, just one pot to wash out...... (fron an origional process using foil wrapped food called 'Campfire Stews')
Naturaly the long wait whilst ensuring the fire remains stoked requires several libations during the process!

The Mound of Sound said...

Many thanks for the Rothschild anecdote, Sal. Brought a smile to my face.

The Mound of Sound said...

It sounds to me like a wonderful way to stoke appetites, Rural. Seconds? Sounds like the sort of cooking where seconds would be an iffy proposition.

Les Smith said...

For the open-top bags, you can get these plastic "split-stick" clamps that you thread across the top of the bag. they then can rest across the top of the pot. A friend of mine, Frank Hsu, at Fresh Meals Solutions, sells them

I started in the early 2000s, using a 1950s thermostatically controlled deep fryer that I calibrated with a thermometer. It wasn't exact, but it did the job.

Sometimes you don't even need a controller. Try vacuum-sealing beets and simmering them on the stove-top for 35 min or so. Nice intense flavour, and you can serve them without making the entire meal red.

The Mound of Sound said...

I hadn't thought of beets, Les. I'll definitely be trying them. Thanks.