Cooking for a family is a tricky business. Not only are there a multitude of tastes and preferences to navigate, but timing everything so that you actually get to eat a meal hot takes the coordination of a shuttle launch. Fortunately, there is a new cooking technique that is finally available to home cooks which can take some of the stress out of mealtimes.
With conventional cooking, you take the cold food you want to cook and put it in a pan or an oven that is very hot (much hotter than the temperature you want the food to be). The food slowly heats up, usually faster on the outside than the inside. The trick is to take the food off the heat at exactly the right time so that the internal temperature is what you want.
Sous vide (French for ‘under vacuum’) cooking changes all that. With sous vide, chefs vacuum-seal the food and cook it in a water bath at the precise temperature they want to serve it at. For example, to cook a steak to medium-rare requires an internal temperature of fifty-seven degrees celcius. All chefs need to do is wait long enough for the internal temperature to reach that point and they will have a perfectly cooked steak, every time. No guessing, no poking, no cutting bits off to check that they are cooked properly.
Until recently, sous vide cooking has been restricted to high-end commercial kitchens. Chefs like Thomas Keller and Heston Blumenthal have been using sous vide techniques to turn out perfectly cooked food in restaurants for years but until recently, the equipment was too big and too expensive for home cooks.
Enter the Sous Vide Supreme. It brings restaurant-quality sous vide cooking to the home. It’s easy to use, simple to clean and is going to start appearing in a lot more kitchens in the future.
There are minimum cooking times for different foods, but with sous vide, you can’t really overcook food (unless you really try), so trying to coordinate a meal in a busy family becomes much easier. Food can sit cooking for an extra half-hour with no ill effects. You can even put the food on in the morning and have it sit happily cooking all day.
We were lucky enough to try out a demo unit and were amazed with the quality of the food it produced. Steak is the classic sous vide dish and it certainly turned out an incredible steak. We tried cooking times between four and twenty-four hours (yes, that’s right). Twelve hours gave the best result – incredibly tender with great flavour. After twenty-four, we could cut the steak with a spoon.
Atlantic salmon was great – almost melting on the fork. Tender but full of flavour.
However the highlight was chicken – the best chicken we’d ever cooked at home. Because the food is sealed in a bag, the amount of moisture lost is kept to a minimum – no more dry chicken.
One thing to note – because you are cooking at a fairly low temperature, you need to char the food afterwards. This can be done in a pan or with a blowtorch – always fun.
The Sous Video Supreme comes in stainless steel and costs $725 plus GST for the base unit. Babyology readers can use the discount code V1F6S2BC3 to get free shipping and a free packet of bags until 31 March 2013.
Check out the Sous Vide Supreme promo video below for more information on sous vide cooking (note, temperatures are in Fahrenheit)
And just to take sous vide cooking to absurd levels, here’s what happens when Heston Blumenthal wants to use it to cook a whole pig.