Sunday, November 8, 2009

A sous vide experiment

It occurred to me the other day, somewhat belatedly, that I could use my waterbath (rescued from the rubbish at work and fixed up for cheesemaking) to try cooking sous vide. A good hunt around the internet resulted in this wonderful document, which I have duly clipped into Evernote for future reference.

For my first experiment I bought various bits of pork (which was on special at the supermarket). I got a couple of loin chops (I always have difficulty cooking these, they dry out too quickly), and some strips of pork belly. I rubbed the belly strips with salt, cumin and some chipotle rub from a packet before sealing them in a bag using my FoodSaver; the pork chops I left au natural and sealed in individual bags.

Here is the bag of belly strips just after I put them in the waterbath, which I set at ~55°C:

I need to get a piece of polystyrene to fit on top of the water to a) keep the heat in and b) stop the water from evaporating, but in the mean time I covered it with an oven tray and put this weekend's cheese curds (white Stilton with brandied raisins in it) on top while they were pressing. An efficient use of escaping heat, I thought - the cheese needed to be kept at ~20°C overnight.

I tried one of the pork chops after it'd been sitting in the waterbath for about 8 hours. I removed it from its bag, salted it, then fried it very quickly in very hot oil to get a bit of colour on its outsides:

It was gorgeous! The centre of the meat was moist and tender and this is how I am going to cook pork chops from now on.

I left the other chop and the strips in the waterbath until this morning, a total of about 18 hours. After I took them out I cooled them and put them in the fridge.

Four hours later I decided to try out the belly strips and removed them from their bag - the three strips had gelled into one slab:

It was actually quite difficult to tell where one strip stopped and the next started, but I ripped them apart any old how and sliced them into chunks which I quickly fried:

Again, they were delicious. Soft and meltingly tender - the texture of the meat was almost as soft as the fat was.

The other chop is sitting in the fridge in its bag. It's nicely pasteurised from sitting at ~55°C for 18 hours, so I don't need to eat it for a while - it'll stay perfectly good for at least a week in the fridge.

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