Sous Vide Cooking
Sous vide is a French culinary term meaning under vacuum. It refers to a low-temperature method of cooking that originated in the early 1800s, but is favored by many professional chefs today. In basic terms, sous vide is putting ingredients into a vacuum-sealed bag, then immersing in warm water kept at a steady temperature for an extended period of time.
There are 3 good reasons many of today’s most acclaimed chefs employ the sous vide method of cooking.
1st, the use of lower temperatures results in succulent, tender meat.
At lower temperatures, the tough collagen in connective tissue melts into gelatin, similar to braising. But with sous vide, the proteins in the meat are never heated so much that they denature and toughen, or lose moisture. Sous vide meats are tender to the nth degree.
2nd, by placing the meat in a water bath with temperature set at the desired final cooking temperature, you remove overcooking from the equation. The food will never get hotter than the bath it is in. Keeping the low temperature strictly constrained maintains the integrity of ingredients, and achieves precise control of cooking even with irregularly shaped or very thick items, given enough time.
and 3rd, sealing food, especially meats, in plastic bags before cooking keeps in juices and aroma that would otherwise be lost in the cooking process.
While sous vide cooking has a lot going for it, it’s not the be-all-end-all technique. There are limitations. For example, sous vide takes time. Because the cooking low and slow, it takes a while for meat to reach temperature.
The technique also requires special equipment such as a vacuum-sealer and an immersion circulator, which precisely heats and circulates the water bath ensuring proper, safe cooking.
It is not a method that I use at home.
Delve further if you’d like to learn more about sous vide cooking, or if you’re feeling adventurous and would like to try sous vide at home, Chef Thomas Keller, has a super sous vide book called Under Pressure.
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