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docj

Excellent, but easy, cooking technique

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I've just been introduced to the world of sous vide cooking and I'm loving it!  Sous vide literally means "under vacuum" and the process is based on encasing food in ziplock bags or vacuum-sealed ones and placing the bags in a water bath being heated by a sous vide immersion cooker. 

What makes sous vide different from other slow cooking approaches is that the sealed bag keeps moisture from escaping the food so that it can be cooked for extremely long periods of time.  The immersion cookers are designed to hold extremely tight temperature control (plus/minus half a degree F) and they all contain small "stirrers" to circulate the water and equalize the temperature.    These features make it possible to cook foods for long periods periods of time at the desired serving temperature rather than at a higher temperature for a shorter time.  

The result of the sealed cooking bag and the low temperature makes it possible to achieve food moistness and tenderness that is hard to imagine even with difficult items such as skinless, boneless chicken breasts.  I cooked the chicken, coated with some seasonings, for ~4 hours at 140F.   When I took it out of the bag I pan-seared it and then put it in a Chicken Tikka Masala sauce that I had prepared on the stovetop.  The chicken was so moist and tender you could cut it with a fork.

The "trick" to sous vide is that food becomes pasteurized after extended exposure to high enough temperatures even though those temperatures would normally not be thought of as being hot enough for food safety. (There are detailed tables you can access online that give the pasteurization times for a large variety of things you might want to cook.)   As long as you cook the food long enough to ensure pasteurization there is rarely an "upper limit" on how long you can cook it for.  For example, I cooked my chicken for 4 hours even though 3 probably would have been safe enough, but 5 hours wouldn't have appreciably changed the texture.

It's this last point which I think makes sous vide ideal for RVers--it's nearly effortless and frees you from time constraints. For example, this summer while we're touring with our grandkids we can start our dinner cooking at lunchtime and can leave it while we go enjoy the afternoon.  Using chicken breasts as an example again, they could all afternoon with no problem so dinner won't be ruined if we come home an hour later than we planned.  Another aspect of why it works for RVers is that you don't need any fancy cookware, in fact, cooking in a non-metallic plastic pot, or even a cooler would be  fine.  I'm using a commercial Rubbermaid 12 qt plastic container, but I could, just as effectively, use a Lowe's paint pail (although my spouse might get turned off by that!)

For my birthday I bought myself one of these: Anova WiFi/Bluetooth  Anova is one of the leaders in consumer use of sous vide.  The concept was developed in the 1990's for the restaurant industry.  It's one of the ways a restaurant with a small kitchen staff can offer you a large variety of dishes so quickly. (The reason for the wifi interface is so you can monitor your cooker if you're away from where it is.  It's an interesting idea, but IMHO it's not quite ready for "prime time.")   While writing this post I'm cooking a couple of boneless center cut pork chops in green curry sauce.  Again, lean pork is often a challenge, but at 140F it should come out on the slightly rare side of medium.

This post has now become much longer than I intended, but I wanted to provide enough information to whet your appetites!  Feel free to ask questions.

Joel (AKA docj)

 

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Sous vide is the BEST way to cook steak! We cook it to the prefect temperature for me then Dave throws his in a skillet to cook it a bit more. The rest of them get put in the fridge for eating later. I love that we can cook a whole bunch at once then eat them whenever we want and every one will be done perfectly. Hmmm. Must be time to put steak on the grocery shopping list again.

Linda Sand

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28 minutes ago, Rich&Sylvia said:

Why did you pick the Anova brand over other brands?
Has the Anova requirement to have an email connection true?  How does that work?

After some online research I decided to go with Anova because it is a well-established brand and has all the features I wanted.  It can be completely controlled from its touch panel; some brands require use of a Bluetooth app.  Furthermore, the difference in price between Anova and other, lesser known brands, wasn't all that great.

FWIW the Anova does NOT require an email connection, nor does it have to be used with either Bluetooth or wifi.  Its temperature and timer can be controlled from the touch panel.  And, as I've learned, the time is relatively unnecessary for sous vide cooking since times aren't critical.

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A friend turned me to sou vide and the results are amazing...to include shrimp scampi.  

At first I’d sou vide steaks and chicken only; then vegetables were just as amazing.  

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I chose Joule because it was the smallest, I must say I love it. It greatly reduces the need for many pots and pans and saves on dishes. 

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I also have the Anova unit.

I got the one with BT and WiFi. As Doc said above, the touch panel does it all.

However, if we run somewhere, the Phone app allows remote monitoring or control.without being there. Store, show, shopping.

So, it hot outside, your running the A/C, you can set the hot unit outside, cook your food, and not have to cool the rig at the same time (via BT) I usually put a towel around / over it to keep out dust etc, and cut down on wind drafts.

 

 

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Six months since I made my first post about sous vide cooking, it's become our "go to" approach for chicken breasts, pork loin and tenderloin and steak!  I cooked a rack of baby back ribs for ~24 hours and they were the most tender, falling off the bone ribs I have ever cooked. 

Although I haven't gotten all that adventurous, I did try cooking fresh shrimp with it and there were some definite advantages.   Instead of trying to guess exactly when the shrimp had cooked "long enough" in the boiling water without overcooking them, with sous vide shrimp the cooking time is ~20 minutes at 130F with little precision needed.  Over the winter I plan to buy some small Mason jars; supposedly you can make a mean creme brûlée with sous vide!

Edited by docj

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