Sous Vide Dinner #2 – Pork, Wild Rice, and Steamed Cauliflower

Sous Vide Dinner #2 - Pork, Wild Rice, and Cauliflower

I was oh-so happy with the results of my first sous vide experimentation.  It was easy, my steak was unbelievably good, and far more tender than any steak I’ve ever had before.  Figuring that things went so well the first time I’d better get cracking and see what else I could accomplish with this fantastic new (to me) cooking method.

Pork chops are another food that often leaves me wondering what the hell I was thinking.  Part of the problem is that most people over-cook pork to the point of ruination.  Pork doesn’t need to be cooked to 165 or 170 degrees.  That used to be the FDA’s safe cooking temperature.  Cooked to that point, you’d be better off just eating a chunk of your gardening gloves, such is the texture. Continue reading

The Best Steak Dinner You Ever Had

The Best Steak Dinner You Ever Had

I find that steak dinner is often a bit overrated.  I’m sure that heresy to a lot of people.  But even a decent cut of steak often goes funny when cooked.  You can buy yourself a nice small piece of sirloin, get it nicely heated over a pan, baked in the oven, or what have you, and no matter how accurately you temp the steak, it’s still like shoe leather.  That’s a shame.  I paid $55 for a steak at Morton’s in Washington DC – and just for the steak mind you – no sides, nothing else.  For a filet mignon it wasn’t particularly awe-inspiring.  Good to be sure.  The best steak I ever had….no where close.  I’m no cheap skate but I expect a hell of a steak for $55.  Partially made up for by our waiter who I’m fairly certain could have been Link from the Mod Squad.  But only partially.

I’ve quite a bit of steak and meaty bits in the freezer and every time I cook one I’m left a little sad.  Sad that although I’ve done everything I thought possible, things don’t often come out exactly the way I want it.  I’ve baked, roasted, broiled, fired, sautéed, grilled…in short I’ve tried just about everything.  Never quite right.  Even out at a restaurant I’m never quite satisfied.  Why is that?  Steak shouldn’t have to be tough.  Yet it always seems to be that way.  My steak at Morton’s wasn’t that tough, but it wasn’t velvet either.  For $55 it ought to be silk. Continue reading

Sous Vide On The Cheap (With Stuff You Already Own)

Sous Vide on The Cheap

I’ve been meaning to toy around with this for quite some time.  They’re always screwing around with it on Top Chef and everyone raves about the results.  As if that weren’t enough, it’s hugely accurate at temperature control so food comes out exactly the way that you want it.  Every time.

Sous vide.  It sounds like a great idea.  Sous vide is french for “under vacuum” and that’s generally the principal by which it gets the job done.  Food gets vacuum sealed inside plastic bags and then is cooked in a water bath at a low temperature for hours and hours until it’s done.  If the end product needs to be cooked to 150 degrees F, you cook it in 150 degree water.  No way that it can get overcooked then.  No matter how hard you try there’s no way that piece of meat can go higher than 150 degrees.

It’s simple, elegant, and pretty much foolproof.  The only drawback is the equipment.  At a minimum you’re looking at $100 for a decent vacuum sealer and $400 for an immersion circulator, which keeps the water bath at a constant temperature.  Great for hotels, restaurants, and professional chefs.  Ridiculous for the home chef unless you’ve got a trust fund and acres of counter space.  I’ve neither.  I imagine you’re in a similar situation.

Repurposing a few home items can get you results pretty close to what professionals are producing without shelling out any money at all.  Even if you lack any of the stuff I used it’s unlikely you’d spend more than $30 of your hard-earned money to replicate by meager equipment.  So what do you need then? Continue reading