Monday, 23 February 2015

To Sous Vide or Not to Sous Vide...

Expensive kitchen gadgets are infiltrating my life and available cupboard space is becoming sparse. Mind you this is not by choice. My husband Martin has recently been "inspired" to empty his pockets at the bequest of shows like Masterchef and books like Heston at Home. If Heston declares Sous Vide will revolutionise our cooking then like lemmings we must follow. Though I am glad that the Sous Vide will be our next foray into the gadget world as I can tell you a Thermomix, the most misused or possibly well marketed kitchen gadget in the world will never make it past my doorstep.

I will admit Martin's last purchase of a pressure cooker has been life changing. Once relegated to weekend cooking where 5 hours was a viable cooking time frame, Melt in your mouth stews and curries are now only an hour away.

In an attempt to test the veracity of Heston's bold statement of the revolutionary effects this will have on our lives we have started cooking. Our first experiment was with some chicken breast. We paired it with an Indian curry sauce I had made the previous night. Sealed together in a FoodSaver vacuum bag we immersed it in the warm water and with a little apprehension that the warm water could actually cook this meat we waited.

 The machine being new and by no means the most expensive on the market we were a little concerned it was not holding it's temperature so we hedged our bets and extended the cooking time from the recommended 1 hour to an hour and a half. We had read the additional half hour would not overcook the meat.

With fingers crossed we cut into chicken and it was cooked to perfection. To tell you the truth I have never had chicken so tender and juicy, I didn't really know it could be like that. That said the sauce had not infused into the meat at all and despite the chicken being smothered in quite a strong mixture of spices and sauce there was no flavour of this within the meat at all. This surprised me. The pressure cooker really forces those flavours into the meat and even boiling away in a crock pot would have done a better job of this. So I was in two minds about the success of this, amazing meat but lacking in flavour, but you cannot make a judgement based on one experiment.

Next experiment was with a Heston recipe from "Heston at Home". Scrambled eggs. Sound easy? Well after nearly an hour of trying to cook this I was not so sure about that. The issue we had is that as we suspected our $199 Sunbeam Sous Vide was struggling to hold it's set temperature. Set to 75 degrees it was only maintaining 71 degrees. The mistake we made was that we did not think 3 degrees would make much of a difference. Well it does, trust me. After the required 15 minute cooking time the eggs were still a watery blob. After 20 minutes same thing. 25 minutes same thing. We decided to increase the set temperature to 78 to try and get it to settle itself at 75. So what does it do, it goes to 78...useful. But we were getting somewhere. After some more fiddling with the temperature and close to an hour of cooking we finally had some Sous Vide scrambled eggs, yay! With the recipe containing cream, milk and butter and topped with browned butter (what a revelation browned butter is!) these eggs were rich. But their creamy, glossy texture was unlike any eggs I have eaten and quite frankly felt divine and decadent. Whilst I enjoyed the eggs immensely albeit slowly due to their richness I ask Martin what he thought. So after an hours cooking and Martin himself choosing the recipe he says "I just don't think scrambled eggs are my thing". Are you kidding me!

Tonight we will attempt the Sous Vide steak. Once out of the water bath it will also require some frying in a pan to get the caramelised crust that is a must have on a steak but I am really hoping to nail a super tender and medium rare steak.

If you want your own Sous Vide machine the Sunbeam is an affordable option. As mentioned it will take a little more patience in temperature control but I just cannot imagine too many home cooks spending upwards of $800 for the better models. You will also need a vacuum system and the Sunbeam Food Saver VS7800 seems to be very good. We have had no issues so far.

Fingers crossed for a divine steak tonight and I must say I am very excited to try it out with my favourite fish, Salmon. Apparently it will give it a voluptuous texture, sounds sexy doesn't it. It will be one sexy my mouth.

Originally posted on Monday, 23 February 2015 by


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