Sous Vide is Going Mainstream!
Sous Vide (“Soo-Veed”) is not some kind of cooking fad. It’s here to stay and as Martha would say: “That’s a good thing...”
“Sous Vide? Is that where you boil everything?”
There are many misconceptions about the Sous Vide cooking method but once you understand the concept, and how foolproof and perfectly it cooks, you’ll be hooked, unless you don’t like your food to be cooked perfectly every time without ever having to worry about undercooking or overcooking... Yes, seriously...
Sous Vide, which, translated from French is “Under Vacuum” is a way of using the advantages of water to cook without the disadvantages of the water actually touching the food, which would affect both the flavor and texture. When you bake or roast in a conventional oven, the cooking medium is air but there are downsides to cooking this way. Air fluctuates wildly in density, humidity and doesn’t conduct heat anywhere near as efficiently as water. This is why you need to set your oven to 350º to get your turkey’s internal temperature to 165º.
With Sous Vide, if you have a Turkey Breast and you want your target internal temperature to be 165º, you set the Sous Vide controller to 165º and guess what? You cannot overcook your Turkey breast this way! The advantages of cooking Sous Vide allows for perfect doneness because it never goes above the target temperature and the consistent density of water means it’s cooked perfectly evenly, from the thickest end of a Salmon fillet down to the thinnest part of the tail. It is virtually impossible to overcook or undercook your food! Restaurants have been cooking this way for years.
Just about every food you can imagine, even eggs, can be cooked to perfection using Sous Vide. As you might have noticed from the photo above, a plastic bag is involved but an actual vacuum is not necessary. In the photo above, a beef steak is placed into a bag with all the spices desired, (in this case, salt, pepper, a little garlic and a sprig of Rosemary). The open bag is lowered into a vessel of water and as it drops, the water, (being denser than air), will push almost all of the air out of the bag. When you get near the top of the bag, simply zip the top of the bag closed. With most of the air squeezed out, we can now cook the steak in the bath of water at the perfect temperature to achieve your ideal doneness: Rare, Medium-Rare, Medium, Medium-Well or even Well Done.
You are likely wondering right about now: “Wait a minute! The steak might be perfectly cooked but what about getting a nice crust and caramelization on the outside?”
The answer is yes, you will need to “finish” your steak, either on a frying pan or grill but here’s the best part: The steak is already cooked to ideal doneness, so it takes just a few minutes to sear the outside of the steak and it’s dinner time! This is the way the PROS do it! They have an array of perfectly cooked Sous Vide steaks and flash fry-grill the steak without the slightest worry because they know it’s perfectly cooked. They are just doing the finish and presentation.
There is really only one piece of equipment you need and that’s a Sous Vide Temperature controller, (the unit above, made by Anova, is excellent but a bit pricey. There are high-quality controllers made by Instant Pot and other companies for less than $100.00):
Sous Vide Temperature Controller (they also contain a pump to circulate the water).
A container. You can start with just a large pot, Dutch Oven or a Pasta pot but most people prefer a transparent Polycarbonate container so that you can see what’s going on without having to lift the items out to look at.
Plastic bags. But not just any! Use either high-quality Zip-top type bags or FoodSaver® bags. Do not use thin sandwich bags or produce bags from the grocery store. You can also buy Sous Vide bags online.
Start by filling the vessel with warm water, (leave a few inches from the top so that when you add your food, the vessel won’t overflow). Clip your Sous Vide controller to the side of the vessel, power it up and set it for the target temperature. Depending on the model, it will take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes to reach your target temperature.
While the water is warming, place your food in the bag. We’ll stick with steak for now as it’s very straightforward. Start by adding a little Olive Oil to a gallon-size zip top bag and your two steaks, along with your desired seasonings, salt, pepper, etc., so that they are side-by-side, horizontally or vertically. Do not place the steaks one on top of the other. They should be oriented to expose as much surface area as possible. Lower the bag slowly into the water and let the water push the air out of the bag as much as possible. When the top of the bag is near the surface of the water, zip it closed, making to not let any water get into the bag.
Remove the bag and set aside until the controller lets you know the target temperature has been reached.
Lower the bag into the vessel and clip to the side of the vessel and let the magic begin! For two steaks like the two above and you want Medium-Rare, set the temperature for 130º and let the steaks cook from an hour, minimum, to four hours. From here, there is no need to monitor or check anything. You are free to prepare other items, go shopping, etc.
When the steaks are cooked, they will look odd, like they’re not ‘done’. While they are perfectly edible, we do need to ‘finish’ the steaks. As you can see from the photo here, the steak appears almost raw but it is fully cooked.
You can either grill or sear the steaks, (gas grills with a sear burner are perfect!), or you can get a cast iron skillet screaming hot, add some high-smoke point oil like Canola Oil and place the steak in the pan. It will take just a few minutes on each side to finish. Since the steak is fully cooked, the Maillard Reaction, (caramelization), happens almost instantly. Flip the steak for another few minutes and ring the dinner bell!
There is also no need to rest the steaks!
There will also be a fair amount of juice in the Sous Vide bag. Don’t throw it away! Pour the juice into a sauté pan and some red wine and butter and let it reduce and pour over your perfect steak!
Add 1-2 teaspoons of Vanilla Extract
Gently fold the Sweetened Condensed Milk and Vanilla Extract into the whipped cream.
Until it looks like this:
Pour the mixture into a standard loaf pan lined with waxed or Parchment paper. (It doesn’t have to be a loaf pan but the container should be deep. Something that resembles a tub of ice cream is ideal!)
Smooth out the mixture and cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer overnight or for at least SIX hours.