We love watching cooking shows, and over the last handful of years, we’ve seen more and more chefs using sous vide cooking for both protein and veggies. So a few Christmases back, Santa brought us an Anova sous vide cooker (I guess we weren’t that naughty), and holy cow it is awesome!
Sous vide is a cooking approach that uses a warm, circulating water bath at a precise temperature to cook the food. The food is in a plastic bag – either vacuum-sealed or just a plain old Ziploc. It’s another approach to “low and slow” but it allows exact cooking and the ability to have it done when you are ready (a steak can “hang out” in a sous vide bath for well over an hour with no ill effects).
You can use this approach for meats and veggies, though I need to learn more about the veggies. I tried carrots once and it worked, but didn’t get me anything spectacular – though Susan bought us a Thomas Keller cook book that looks like it has some ninja sous vide veggie recipes.
For me, it’s about the meat. You get perfect results – every time. We love high quality cuts of meat (grass feed beef, American way, heritage port, etc.), but I was always anxious about cooking it.
These days, we get our beef and pork from Snake River Farms over in Idaho – a lot of the fine dining restaurants around here source from SNR as well. The quality is amazing (and they have cuts of meat so much better than prime or choice – it makes my head spin!), but it’s not cheap. We don’t need to eat as much – one SNR filet is good for both of us. But you want to get that cook just right.
Enter sous vide. For a filet (they also have these amazing rib-eye filets!), I’ll thaw it a few days early and “quick age” it in the fridge for about 48 hours (sprinkled generously with kosher salt and sitting on a wire rack). Then I’ll pull it out, season it with salt and pepper and some quality EVOO. I pull out some thyme and rosemary sprigs and then put it all in a vacuum-seal baggie and put it in my sealer to suck out the air and compress and seal the baggie.
Then I set up the Anova – for a filet, I set it for 130 degrees and 90 minutes. When the water bath is up to temp, my phone beeps and I put in the vacuum-sealed meat to hand out and circulate for 90 minutes. The water bath gets the meat up to exactly 130 degrees and keeps it there. After the 90 minutes, you’re ready to sear it (but you can also let it stay in the water bath until your are ready – that’s a game changer if you are doing a side dish like frites or risotto).
You pull it out of the bath and it’s cooked perfectly, but a little gray on the outside. I heat up a cast iron skillet and either use butter/EVOO or SNR’s “chef’s gold” and sear the outside. I’ll toss a rosemary sprig in there and baste for a minute or two.
When you pull it out of the pan and slice it – it’s just perfect. Caramelized on the outside and flawlessly cooked and just infused with flavor. I couldn’t go back if I tried!