I have a new toy and it is a sous vide machine! You will have no doubt heard or seen it on the myriad of TV cooking shows. Of course what you don’t know is that you will also probably need a vacuum bag sealer! The basic deal is, seal your food, meat, fish etc in a polythene bag, making sure that a) it is properly sealed and b) that all of the air is extracted . Of course this could be done with a Zip Lock type bag but much more difficult to extract all of the air.
So along with the Sous Vide machine I bought a Bag vacuum machine, which also means buying the proper bags as ordinary plastic bags, just don’t hack it ! I was so I impressed as was himself with the food cooked that I took my machine off to France this summer and I soon found out the downside of not having the Vacuum sealer. No matter how hard I sucked or squeezed to remove air from my Zip Lock bag it ended up floating in the water bath. Therefore it had to be weighted down, usually with a granite pestle and mortal! Still it worked. I am really impressed so much so that I bought another one to leave in France and another one for my son and a foodie friend has also now bought one! Maybe I should be getting a ‘ Refer a friend ‘ discount!
The basic principle of this machine (and this is just a home version so does not need oodles of storage space) is it cooks food very slowly at a low constant temperature. Consequently chicken breasts which can be quiet dry, are moist and succulent. They are in the water bath at about 140 F ( most of the online instructions are from the USA, hence the Farenheit ) for about an hour, patted dry and a quick sauté in the frying pan to give them some colour, Perfect!
Having played around, with chicken, fish, onglet ( hanger steak—-Perfect) I decided to branch out and bought a couple of kilos of Veal Cheeks. These can be very time consuming to prepare and require a lot of slow cooking, just imagine all of that chewing that cows do and today veal is ethically fine as the young animals no longer are kept indoors but free to roam. They are all young bulls but the farmer does not need an overload of young bulls for his herd, just imagine a herd with too many bulls, mayhem would ensue!
On ‘Googling ‘veal cheeks sous vide I discouvered that they need Dunking for a mere 48 hours. I trimmed the cheeks, vacuum packed them set the pan of water to a temperature of 140 F and when it reached this I put them in the pot, making sure that they were well submerged, covered the pot with cling film to help reduce the evaporation and left them for 48 hours! Himself was given a dire warning “Do Not Touch !”
So after a couple of days, the machine beeped at me so I removed the cheeks and left them to cool, cool enough to handle. They were then trimmed and sliced, onions were also sliced and sautéed, along with some celery, garlic and mushrooms. This recipe, actually a non recipe, was created on the hoof. I added about a bottle of Malbec red wine, about 4 oz butter, some black currant jelly, salt and pepper.
Although I bought a book called “Exploring Sous Vide” it does not really give very good temperature times and instructions. However it is a good basic guide and some useful information. I think the bottom line is that this is a kitchen gadget not for the faint hearted, BUT himself has been seen using it, to cook chicken, which comes out beautifully moist. I have to admit I have not ventured onto eggs and fish, that will have to come ( if only I was at home long enough). I receive a news letter from the author of this book and I was amused to read one day the article titled” making the perfect drip coffee using the Sous Vide Machine”! I have to say I was amused, not sure I can wait 24 hours for my morning coffee to be ready!