Sous Vide Cooking

Those of you that have been following me on Facebook know that I use the sous vide technique a lot in my cooking, mainly involving meats.

While it’s getting more popular, this technique is still not common knowledge, so it’s worth talking a little about it and how it can help your cooking on a budget.

Sous vide is French for ‘under vacuum’.  It is the process of vacuum-sealing food in a bag, then cooking it to a very precise temperature in a water bath. The results it produces is virtually impossible to achieve using any other cooking method.

No, this is not ‘boiling food in a bag’.

Because it enhances flavors of the food little or no additional salt or fat is needed. I usually put just a little salt and pepper on the meat. You get the full flavor of the food and not the additives. Because it is cooked in a vacuum sealed bag no vitamins or minerals are boiled or steamed away. In fact the natural meat juices are collected in the bag and are used by me as additional flavor in other dishes like soups and gravies.

This method of course requires the use of machine called an immersion circulator (the price range can be from as little as $69 on up. I opted for one at a little under $90) to keep the water at the proper temperature so the food cooks slowly at a low temperature. It has been used at least once a week for about a year.

The idea is to cook food gently, well below the boiling point. The water is heated to the temperature that is recommended for the food’s ideal temperature, never any hotter and never to the boiling point.

Even though sous vide is French for vacuum sealing, you do not need a pricey vacuum sealer. I usually use a regular Ziplock-style bag and a simple water displacement method to remove all the air from the bags.

The main reason that I started to use the sous vide cooker was to give the tougher, cheaper cuts of meat the slow and low cooking treatment. It has not been intended to be a fast method of cooking; however, it is a safe way to know you will get the same results every time you use it and you don’t need to be in attendance.

There are of course additional touches to be done if you want to put a finished look on things like a juicy steak. That is just using a bit of mayonnaise brushed on the outside and quickly seared on the outside grill about two minutes each side for a medium rare inch and half to two-inch piece of meat.

Even though the sous vide can be used for vegetables to eggs, I mainly use if for beef, pork, shrimp and of course baby back ribs.

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