Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Farm Fresh

I like simple food.  Food that showcases the ingredients. 

It blows my mind how good something can taste with the simplest preparations when the ingredients are great.

In this case a few farm fresh eggs, cooked in a little bit of butter and seasoned with salt and pepper.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Beer Cooler Suis Vide

I watch the food network a lot, read food magazines, cookbooks and the Wednesday food section of the New York Times. I love learning about food and food preparation. I love to try new food, processes and techniques.

On technique that I thought was out of my reach was Suis Vide. Not that i wouldn't be able to do it, its just that the equipment used is really expensive.

Suis Vide is french for "under pressure." The actual cooking method is cooking something in a vacuum packed bag (this is wear they get "under pressure") submerged in water.

I guess it doesn't seem that hard but seeing as you need a vacuum sealer ($100 for a cheap one) and an immersion circulator ($800 for a cheap one) it seemed beyond my house hold cooking repertoire.

I was wrong.  I discovered this method.... The zip lock bag, beer cooler method.... (that's not an official name)  Sure sounds kinda, redneck (good thing we are living in Tennessee now ;-) )  But whatever works right.

Sceptical? I was too, but think about it.  The bag just needs to hold the food in, keep the water out and be able to withstand the heat of the water your cooking.  A zip lock works fine for this.  The immersion circulators whole purpose is to keep the water at a very precise temperature for long enough to cook the food in the bag to the desired doneness.

So here's what i did.

Bought a cooler, some zip lock bags, Fillet and some red wine.  I then filled the cooler with Hot water straight from my kitchen sink.  My water happened to be 137 degrees which happened to be the perfect temperature for a MR steak.

I seasoned the Steak with salt and pepper and then seared it for about 30 seconds on each side in a very hot pan.

I put the Fillet, about 1/2 cup of wine and a pat off butter in the bag and sucked as much air out of the bag as i could.  (I sealed all but a tiny bit of the zip lock and stuck a drinking straw just into the bag and sucked the air out... I worked pretty well.)

Next i put the fillet into the cooler shut the lid and let it set for about 2 1/2 hours....

After two and a half hours i took the bag out and seared it once more for about 30 seconds on each side and served it.  
It turned out beautifully!!  Perfectly Medium Rare from edge to edge.  I was pretty impressed with how well it worked.

The water temperature only dropped 3 degrees throughout the cooking time which was a lot less than i expected.  It turns out that coolers do just a good a job of keeping things hot as they do keeping thins cold.

Much of sous vide cooking is done over much longer cooking times and for those the beer cooler would not work unless you were continually adding hot water  to keep the temperature up, but then that would seem to take away from at least part of the benefits of sous vide.

I'm not sure if the beer cooler is going to be a regular tool in my cooking tool arsenal, but I'm sure that I will use it again as the possibilities are if nothing else intriguing.