The next step in home cooking is Sous Vide - "Cooking under Vacuum"
Simply stated cooking Sous Vide is to:
- Season the food
- Seal the food in a vacuum bag
- Drop the sealed bag into a heated water bath and cook for a specified length of time at a specific temperature
- Remove and brown item if browning is needed
The origin of the term Sous Vide (pronounced sue-vee), is French, meaning “under vacuum”, also widely known as low temperature cooking. Sous Vide is the process of cooking food that has been packaged in a vacuum sealed bag, at a low and consistent temperature, in a heated and circulating water bath. An immersion circulator heats the water and keeps the water in motion ensuring the heat is distributed evenly. This allows the temperature of the water be kept very precise. The water is held at the temperature you wish the food to reach and the food is cooked at that temperature for a specific time.
This cooking method creates new taste and texture sensations by preserving the aroma, flavors and vitamins of meat, poultry, fish, vegetables and desserts.
Sous Vide style precision, low temperature, cooking is another way to cook and just like all cooking techniques, it involves trade-offs. It does takes longer and that it does requires more equipment.
To truly cook Sous Vide the food must be “under vacuum” and this step should not be overlooked. Use a quality vacuum sealer to suction out the air and get a good tight seal. If you do not vacuum seal the bag, the air left in the bag can cause it to float on top of the water, which will cause it to be heated unevenly. Also, pulling a good vacuum intensifies the flavors of the food by infusing any added seasonings through the food evenly, rather than cooking them away. In other words, the air removed from the food opens the pores and allows seasonings and liquids to infuse into the open pores of the food. You will need less seasoning because the vacuum sealed package preserves flavor by protecting the juices, the nutrients and aroma of the food. Without the vacuum seal the juice will evaporate and some nutrients will be lost during cooking and the aroma will be gone. Also, the removal of air draws the bag tight to the food and ensures a very efficient transfer of heat from the water bath as water is many more times more thermal conductive than air. This efficient transfer of heat allows for lower cooking temperatures.
Why Sous Vide? - Cooking sous vide produces results unattainable through traditional cooking methods. The secret is low and precise temperature control along with time. (Time and temperature charts are readily available to guide you as time will vary for different types of food). If there's one dish that most dramatically shows the differences between Sous Vide and traditional cooking methods, its chicken breast so we will use chicken breast as an example of how to Sous Vide. However, beef, lamb, seafood, vegetables and game, may all be cooked Sous Vide.
When food, such as a chicken breast, is cooked on a stove top, a grill or in an oven, it is cooked at a higher temperature than the internal temperature you want the food to reach. For instance, to cook a chicken breast using an oven, you might cook at 300-350 degrees until it reaches the USDA recommended 165 degree internal temperature. On a grill the temperature may be even higher. These higher temperatures will overcook the outer layers, to ensure that the center of the chicken is cooked through and safe to eat. This can lead to a dry, bland & stringy texture.
But when cooking a chicken breast sous vide you can cook at temperatures around 140 -150 degrees but at a longer cook time. This combo of time and temperature (pasteurization) will safety cook the chicken breast. The results are a savory and moist piece of chicken cooked perfectly from edge to center.
It does takes longer to get the food to the necessary internal temperature when the cooking temperature is the same, (in our example our water bath temperature would be 140-150 degrees) but the food cooked sous vide will always be more nutritional, juicier and have a better aroma than foods cooked traditional. Chicken will be fork tender, full with juice, with texture and flavor that just aren't attainable via traditional high-heat cooking methods.... For more click here...
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