Everybody wants to save the earth, nobody wants to help mom do the dishes.  --P.J. O'Rourke

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sous Vide - Fancy School Cafeteria Food?

Though not exactly new (it dates from at least the 1970's) cooking Sous Vide (which is French for "under vacuum") is gaining considerable popularity. Essentially, the food is vacuum packed and cooked for a relatively long time in a hot water bath at low temperature (typically below boiling). The resulting food can then be frozen or stored cold until it is ready to be served. When ready to be served, it is heated in a hot water bath and served as is or flash browned. The water bath is typically temperature controlled by a Laboratory Immersion Heater which can maintain temperature to within a few degree's F or less. Precise temperature control is essential as the temperatures can be a few degrees over the level where bacteria can thrive. The low temperature allows the meat to be cooked at a temp low enough that the proteins cannot form tough chains (At least that's how I understand it) The beauty of this method is that you can prepare a ton of food that requires little skilled preparation on site. This method was used to prepare 5 star food for hundreds of Katrina victims in D.C. Oddly enough Wired ran a short piece about Nathan Myrhvold (MS Chief Tech Guy) being an early proponent of the method. Also apparently French Laundry cooks their short ribs for 36hrs Sous Vide.


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