The many reasons behind a trend
You may have asked yourself why. Why cook in vacuum-sealed bags, for longer times and obsessing over temperature, and dedicate so much time to what, ultimately, is simply cooking?
Let it be clear - the right temperature is a crucial element if you want to prepare good food. Sous-vide contributes to this success.
This technique, which was re-discovered in the mid 1960s for industrial food preservation, was adopted in 1974 by Georges Pralus, a chef in the Loire region of France. Pralus had discovered it was the best way to cook and preserve his fois gras, which maintained its taste and kept its original appearance.
In recent years it has become common practice in many star-rated restaurants and all chefs adore it. Sous-vide cooking consists in placing raw food (whatever it is), with all its dressing and flavourings if necessary, into special food-grade plastic bags from which the air is removed before sealing. The vacuum-bag is then placed in water kept at constant temperature, or in an oven, at a temperature between 50 and 70 degrees centigrade (strictly below 100 degrees), where it will remain until completely cooked. This may take a few minutes or several hours. The final cooking touch will be in a pan or on the grill, to achieve a crunchy surface texture and to sublime flavours.
What is it about this technique that makes chefs swoon? It is practical - once cooked, the food is pasteurised and, in the sealed packet, it can be stored for long periods of time in the fridge or freezer, with no changes to flavour or texture. You can imagine how this allows restaurants to optimise the times and quality of their service, can’t you?
Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables - they all take on impossible organoleptic properties when cooked traditionally. The food is sealed off from the external environment and is not in contact with oxygen, so it does not oxidise. It does not need fats for cooking (with the exception of any fats already included). Cooking juices - which are part of the food itself - are retained inside during cooking, which allows for incredible texture. In this way food becomes juicer and more tasteful because it does not loose any of its flavours. Vitamins, mineral salts and all nutrients remain in the bag, are not released in the water and are not altered by high temperatures, so the food is better and healthier.
Home sous-vide cooking is hardly difficult to imagine - all you need are some good machines, i.e. a vacuum-packing machine, a steam oven (or a roner, a kind of thermostatic bath) and a little tender loving care. This is the magic created with sous-vide cooking - keeping food in water (or steam) at controlled temperature and for the right time ensures every part is cooked evenly and perfectly. It is not burnt or overdone, it is simply cooked excellently.
How to sous-vide cook? Imagination is the limit.
Meat cuts, from the softest to the stringiest, will be enhanced by sous-vide cooking, preserving their juiciness and providing you with a product that is soft beyond belief when cooked. The same applies to fish, which does not become dry or lose its flavour when cooked in this way - it actually achieves a unique texture. All vegetables are very good if prepared in this way, and so is fruit - tubers, squash, green vegetables, apples and pineapples all retain a brilliant colour and great taste.
Sous-vide cooking at home saves time. Do you know why? You can dedicate a few hours to preparing food at weekends and forget about the hob for the rest of the week. And you won’t be missing out on flavour and nourishing properties! Arm yourself with bags and machines and prepare yourself for a real change in the kitchen.
The video shows how to prepare a refined dish - venison fillet with black truffle, bacon and squash cream - created using the souse-vide cooking functions of the revolutionary KitchenAid Chef Touch.
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