Some months ago I bought Heston Blumenthal’s book Heston Blumenthal At Home. I was delighted with the recipes, all the secrets of the wonder chef’s home kitchen. But there was one chapter I hadn’t been able to cook from, the chapter on Sous Vide. Thanks to Sous Vide Supreme, who have sent me a machine to review and Donald Russell who have supplied a fabulous selection of meat, I can now really experiment with this versatile method of cooking.
Sous vide literally means under vacuum and refers to the technique of cooking in a water bath, at a constant temperature, in a vacuum sealed pouch. A method originally developed to eliminate shrinkage of foie gras. Sous Vide cooking is now used in many top restaurants and you’ll have seen it on cookery shows such as Masterchef.
The Sous Vide Supreme machine is about the size of a bread maker, a sleek stainless steel cube, light and easy to move around the kitchen. I found the digital controls on the front, very simple to use and although I did read the instructions, it’s pretty obvious how to set the temperature and timer. The sous Vide Supreme machine also came with a vacuum sealing device which was equally straightforward. This sucks all the air out of the cooking pouches and is the secret behind the success of the water bath method of cooking.
I began with cooking a couple of the Donald Russell ox cheeks, a cut of meat that I’ve used before, but cooked very slowly using a casserole or Dutch oven. The casserole method produces a fall apart texture to the meat and a delicious gravy. The Sous Vide Supreme produced a rich, succulent, soft texture, but it held it’s shape and could be easily sliced and served like a much more expensive cut of steak. The juice in the pouch is robust and ideal for making a quick gravy or jus.
These cheaper cuts of meat take longer to cook in the Sous Vide Supreme and so take planning. I had to get up at midnight because I hadn’t worked out what time my Donald Russell Pork Osso Bucco should come out before putting it in! However that’s basic cooking planning and no different from using any other method.
Armed with Sous Vide For The Home Cook by Douglas E Baldwin, which gives recipes and timings for just about every cut of every type of meat and has a chapter for veg. I had all I needed to embark on my Sous Vide Supreme challenge and review.