Sous Vide Cooking

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Anthology of compressed fruits (under vacuum)

by on May.22, 2010, under Equipments & Accessories

Today I had time to experiment “compression” with my vacuum chamber sealer. To put a juicy fruit under vacuum is an issue with clamp vacuum machines as liquids can get inside the machine and break it. Vacuum chamber sealer machines are designed in a way that liquids can be put under vacuum. The vacuum is also much stronger with a vacuum chamber sealer compared to a clamp machine.
Compressing fruits such as watermelon is often described on cooking books or on some blogs. I was very curious to see the result on the texture of the fruit and also on the flavor.

Fo my first try I took a green apple I have cut in thin slices. I added a bit of gin inside the pouch, set the vacuum chamber machine at the maximum and here is the result. A fantastics translucent apple slice. I have also particularly appreciated the combination apple/gin.

My other tries were watermelon, melon and banana with rhum ans sugar cane. As you will se bellow, colors of watermelon and melon are getting very intense. The visual effect is fantastic!

On these picture you will realize how different is the color of compressed melon and watermelon compared to uncompressed ones. The texture is also very different, especially for the melon.

Then, what about the flavor? In my opinion watermelon compression doesn’t improve the flavor. I have added in the pouch some watermelon juice as I though this would raise the flavor…but it didn’t work.

Melon was in my opinion more interesting. The texture was getting more compact than with watermelon and the color became incredibly orange. In the mouth the compressed melon was unfamiliar. I can’t say it was better than the uncompressed one but this was an interesting feeling.

Jean-François

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Hey Mr Manager! Do you call this medium rare?

by on Apr.24, 2010, under General Topics

Some days ago I visited a friend of mine in Switzerland who proposed during my stay to go to a thermal bath. This place was great with a beautiful exterior bath, whirlpools, slides…and a steam-bath announced to be at 55°C.

Fifty five degrees, this number rang a bell in my obsessed sous vide cooking freak mind.
Would a piece of beef filet be cooked properly with a medium-rare doneness if stored sous vide in this 55°C steam-bath?
In theory yes! So why not trying it? My friend was very embarrassed and was not enthusiast bringing a cut of meat in a public area where hygiene is taken very seriously (Swiss people take very much care of hygiene, especially in a pool).
The day after we put under vacuum a very thin slice of beef filet (2 cm) and went back to the thermal bath.

We have hidden the pouch behind a post so that nobody finds it during 2:35  hours cooking time. According to Douglas Baldwin tables, a 20 mm cut of beef, should reach 55°C core temperature in 1:37.

Therefore we had to cool our pouch before bringing it back home to sear it and eat it. Kneipp therapy circuit help us for that purpose. Kiepp therapy consists of treatment with cold and warm water. One of the pool shown on the above picture is very cold (approx. 6°C).

Then we immersed our beef filet in this 6°C bath during 20 minutes…this was kind of funny because our pouch swam several times in the bath due to the water steam caused by the poeple walking inside. It was very difficult for me to fix it behind this pipe…and very embarrassing for my friend who was hiding himself in the whirlpool.

As you can see we planned everything, especially the insulated bag where to place the pouch on the way back home.

Unfortunately our beef filet did not reach our expectations. The meat was too raw and far from a medium-rare doneness. Nevertheless you’ll notice the meat is evenly cooked which is a good point. We have decided, for safety reasons, not to eat the meat.

Anyway we came to the conclusion that this steam-bath bath couldn’t be at 55°C.

Then, what is the next step? Making a complaint against the thermal bath? Asking for the manager and show him the proof that he cheats  on the temperature of the steam-bath? Hey Mr. Manager, do you call this medium rare?

Funny day.

Jean-François

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Duck Foie Gras cooked sous vide at 58°C during 47 minutes

by on Dec.27, 2009, under Recipes, Time and Accurate Temperature

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In France, during Christmas time, eating foie gras is very popular. Remember that the sous vide method was developed by Georges Pralus in the 70s  in order to cook foie gras in an optimal way.
For the first time I tried to cook myself a duck foie gras sous vide.
First issue is to choose a good raw foie gras of quality…The South Ouest of France is the region where the foie gras is originally produced. If you choose one of those, there is a small risk to make mistakes.

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Then, you must take off the veins of the foie gras (sometimes you can purchase the foie gras without the veins). This is where the problem started…This is not an easy part of work. I looked on internet some videos illustrated the key points and technique to take off veins of a foie gras and then I tried myself. The difficult thing is to find the veins, take them off without destroying the whole structure of the foie gras.

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It was very hard to do. On the right you can see the pieces of foie gras containing the veins and on the left the foie gras I almost totally destroyed!

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Then I added 13g salt per kilo and 3g of pepper per kilo of foie gras. Some people recommend seasoning the foie gras with Armagnac or Porto. I put no alcohol at all.
Next step is to create a “ballotine”.

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The “ballotine” was also not easy to form. I took a food grade plastic wrap, put the foie gras pieces inside and compressed them, first to take off the air but also to create a cylinder. Several plastics wrap pieces were necessary to fulfill this step.

Next step was to vacuum the foie gras in a pouch. I read on internet that the best way to keep a frame while cooking was to use a “shrink” bag. I didn’t have any so I did it with a regular cuisson sous vide bag.

Cooking the foie gras ballotine: my foie gras cylinder was approx. 17 cm long and 6 cm of diameter. The more an ingredient is fat the best it conducts heat. I cooked my ballotine at 58°C during 47 minutes with immersion circulator.
During the cooking process air appeared in the ballotine and my pouche started to float on the surface. I have probably not compressed enough the foie gras and not vacuumed enough the pouch. Therefore I fixed the pouch with a heavy tool down in my cooking pot.

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Next step was to chill the ballotine. As you can see I took this task very seriously.

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My foie gras became slightly brown and a significant amount of yellow fat appeared on one side of the pouch (unfortunately you can’t see it on the picture). I was surprised to see that by ballotine kept its cylinder frame. My worry was to maintain this frame until the total cool down of the foie gras. For this purpose I took a piece of carton I curved like a half-cylinder and place the ballotine inside. After I left the ballotine in the fridge for a night with the carton, the whole ballotine kept its perfect frame of a cylinder.

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The result was really not so bad! With a little bit of fig, the taste was marvelous and the texture fantastic.

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In addition, a little bit of Sauterne Château de Rolland (Barsac) 2004…Très, très bon!

Jean-François

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