When I worked in the computer world my office was three blocks away from Chinatown, We often went for lunch to enjoy Dim Sum but when we were in a hurry we usually went to a Chinese BBQ shop. With BBQ duck, crispy pork belly, crispy duck and my favorite Chinese BBQ Pork to choose from and some white rice and sauce we were all set. Usually when I make my own BBQ pork at home, I use either tenderloin or country ribs. Using sous vide I decided to make my BBQ pork with pork belly. Cooking the belly at 133 degrees F will ensure the meat is not over-cooked but moist and tender. The meat is perfectly cooked separated with layers of wonderfully textured pork fat that together complements each other perfectly. You can also do this dish using country style ribs but reduce the sous vide cooking time to 4-6 hours. Using pork tenderloin which cooks so quickly I would skip the sous vide step completely and just boil.
5 pounds pork belly cut into strips
2 Tbsp. ketchup
4 Tbsp. Chinese rice wine
4 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
3 minced garlic cloves
2 Tbsp. minced ginger
4 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp. five spice powder
6 drops red food color (optional)
For basting - half and half mixture of honey and hoisin sauce
1. Mix the marinade ingredients together and add to 2 one gallon zip lock bags . Divide the pork between the two bags and seal removing as much air as possible. Marinate the pork for 8 to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
2. Preheat the sous vide water bath to 133 degrees F and add the bags of marinated pork belly. Cook for 48 to 72 hours.
3. Remove the pork from the bags, rinse and dry. Baste the pork with a half and half mixture of honey and hoisin sauce and broil until the pork caramelizes and just starts to blacken around the edges. Let cool and serve.
For our special Christmas dinner I decided to make a standing rib roast cooked low and slow. After salting and resting for three days, I smoked the roast until I reached a internal temperature of 120 degrees. When I was able to purchase a chuck roast on sale, I thought I would prepare it simular to my standing rib roast. Since the chuck is a tougher piece of meat why not use sous vide to create a melt in the mouth roast just as impresive as a great prime rib? This is the beauty of sous vide, transforming a cheap cut of meat into something special.
1 five pound chuck roast
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup pepper
6 Tbsp. dry thyme
4 Tbsp. dry oregano
4 Tbsp. garlic powder
1. Trim the roast of any extra fat and any visible silverskin. Mix together the salt, pepper, thyme, oregano and garlic powder. Rub the roast liberally with the spice mixture reserving any extra for another use. Refrigerate the roast in a ziplock bag overnight to 3 days.
2. Rinse and dry the roast and smoke for 3 to 6 hours at 200 degrees.
3. After smoking, vacumn seal the meat in a plastic sous vide bag and cook at 133 degrees for 48 to 72 hours. Let rest bebore cutting. Enjoy!
The perfect turkey is the elusive Holy Grail of the holiday home cook. Nothing can put a damper on a thanksgiving or christmas meal more than a dried out flavorless bird. I have tried many techniques; brining, roasting, smoking, deep frying, grilling. Since I purchased my first immersion circulator I have looked for opportunities to best take advantage of sous vide or as I like to say, precise temperature cooking. For the perfect bird I turned to one of the chefs I admire and trust, Michael Voltagio and his technique on the Williams Sanoma web site. We start by butchering our turkey then brining overnight in a flavorful liquid to add moisture and additional flavor. Next we cook the invividual pieces sous vide until perfecly cooked; then we crisp our turkey briefly in the deep fryer to add color and an incredible skin. I garentee that if you prepare your holiday bird this way and bring it to your next family gathering it will disapear before any other turkeys there. Unfortunately there will hardly any leftovers so you may want to pick up another turkey when they are on sale.
1 12-14 pound turkey (get the freshest bird you can)
fresh sage and thyme
crushed garlic cloves (1 for each bag plus 3 for brine)
1 pint duck fat (1 - 2 Tbsp. for each bag)
salt and pepper for seasoning
1 gallon water
1 cup salt
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. black peppercorns
1 Tbsp cloves
3 crushed garlic cloves
6 sprigs fresh thyme
12 crushed fresh sage leaves
ice cubes to cool
1. Butcher turkey into 2 boneless breasts, drumsticks and boneless thighs. Prepare brine by heating 1 gallon water and disolving salt and sugar once hot. Add the peppercorns, cloves, garlic, thyme and sage and remove from heat. Add ice cubes to cool. Add the turkey pieces and brine overnight in the refrigerator.
2. Break apart the carcass of the turkey and the wings. Prepare a bed of mirepoix (onions, celery and carrots) and put the carcass over top. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with light olive oil. Roast in a 400 degree oven until nicley browned. Remove the turkey and vegetables from the roasting pan and heat over medium heat. Add or drain fat to the pan so you have about 2 to 3 tablespoons of fat let in the pan. Stir in an equal amount of flour to make a roux then deglaze with turkey or chicken stock. Add enough stock to make gravy and reduce to the consistency that you like. Strain through a sieve, season and reserve warm.
3. Preheat sous vide bath to 150 degrees F. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse off spices and pat dry. Season each piece with salt and pepper, top with 1-2 tbsp. duck fat and top with fresh thyme and a couple of sage leaves. Seal each piece in a separate food safety sous vide bag. Add the thighs to the water bath and cook for 30 minutes. Add the remaining turkey to the water bath and cook for an additional 2 hours.
4. When the cooking has completed, remove the bags from the water bath and let cool until they are able to be handled. Cut open the bags and drain and dry the turkey pieces. Deep fry the pieces until browned, season and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Slice and serve with gravy and enjoy!
One of my favorite French bistro dishes is Duck Confit a classic specialty of the French province of Gastony. Originally designed as a method for preserving an entire duck it is now commonly prepared with the legs and thighs. The duck legs are cured with a salt, garlic and a herb mixture for a period of time then rinsed, dried and slowly poached in its own duck fat until tender. This is fine if you have a lot of duck fat but for most home cooks, we will have only have a small amount that we have rendered from our duck. This is a perfect opportunity to use the technique of sous vide witch allows us the ability to do the job with a fraction of the duck fat we would need. We only need to add a small amount of fat in each bag. In this version I am using my standard curing mix which will allow this confit to be able to preserve the meat up to six months in the refrigerator but you can substitute with a mixture of kosher salt, herbs and sugar. The duck will still last a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. Once you prepare the confit you can use it to make salads or the classic French dish, cassoulet (pictured in slideshow below).
2-3 pounds duck leg quarters
1/2 cup home curing mix or a mixture of salt and sugar
4-6 garlic cloves crushed and minced
2 Tbsp. dried thyme
1. Rub each of the duck leg with the curing mix, seal in a plastic dish and store in the refrigerator for at least three days up to a week.
2. After curing the meat rinse off the salt and spices and vacuum seal the legs with 2 Tbsp. of duck fat for each leg in a food grade sealer bag. Sous vide at 175 degrees F for 10 to 12 hours. Drain the bags (reserving the fat) and place under the broiler to crisp the skin.
Once people find out I am a chef and ask me what type of food I cook many ask me how to cook the perfect meat whether it is a steak, chicken, turkey, lamb or pork. I say that I pull out my trusty immersion circulator and sous vide the meat. I almost always get a Puzzled look and the question what's that? I start by saying that the most common fault in cooking meat is that people overlook whatever they cook. When you cook two or more separate pieces of meat they will always cook slightly different depending on size and shape of the piece before even considering that the grill or cooking surface will have uneven heat. There is another problem that high heat will cook from the outside in creating a crust while the inside is still raw. As more heat is added the pieces continue to cook and the cook try's to hit the perfect temperature. The problem is even after the meat is taken off the heat it continues to cook (carry over cooking) which makes the perfect doneness. Sous Vide cooking uses precise cooking temperatures to ensure the dish is never over-cooked because the final target temperature is never exceeded. Another great thing is that we can extend cooking times to tenderize tough cuts of meat and also pasteurize our food. This makes it an idea way to make use of cheaper cuts of meat that can be cooked to tender perfection. Not only that but with precision temperature control we con choose our degree of doneness. One of my favorites are beef short ribs cooked medium rare, falling off the bone tender. Imagine BBQ pork smoked then sous vided until tender but not dries out or maybe pot roast or even brisket. We could use this method to confit duck legs with a lot less duck fat then the stove top method and better temperature control. For the last three Thanksgivings I have even Sous Vided my turkey then finished in the deep fryer to produce the best turkey I and my family have ever had. Speaking of the best rib eye steaks are out of this world.
So, what is Sous Vide? Food is sealed in a food-safe plastic bag then is vacuum sealed and placed in a water bath that is both heated and circulated with a device called an Immersion Circulator. Sounds expensive? Once that was true; now you can buy one for less then $100 dollars. For your water bath you can use a large pot, a plastic bin; I have even heard of people using a cooler. When you seal your food in the bag you can add seasonings, herbs and fat. You just have to set your temperature and cook your food for the desired time. Once cooked the food can be browned by searing in a hot pan, deep fried or torched with a butane or propane torch.