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Burns My Bacon: Sous Vide

Posted by on September 27 2012 in Rants & Raves, Trends

We’ve talked sous vide many times here on Endless Simmer. Now that the trend has died down a bit, KK asks, is it even worth it?

Sous vide. It’s a French term meaning, “I’ve got way too much time on my hands and I don’t own a microwave.” This is a cooking process in which you put food into a plastic bag, remove as much air as you can, and then sloooooow cook it in a water bath at around 55 degrees for 72 hours. That’s more than a couple of days. Why would you do this? If you were on your meds you wouldn’t. Can you imagine everything being cooked this way?  You could get your dry cleaning back in less time. I mean, I could order food from New York and have it FedEx’d to me before my sous vide steak is half done.

When I was growing up, I thought that my mother invented fast food. The slowest thing that she cooked in our house was a TV dinner. That took 20 minutes. I was a teenager before I realized that the center of your Salisbury steak wasn’t supposed to be frozen. 72 hours to properly bathe my entrée? I’ve had goldfish that didn’t last that long in water. “Boil in the bag? Oh no, no, no. What’s the rush? Why don’t you sit back and relax while I sous vide us some pasta. Case of wine while we wait?”

The great Julia Child would have a hard time selling THIS French cooking method to American housewives. And really, as a restaurateur, how do you make any money at this? You certainly couldn’t advertise how fresh your food is. Even Michael Phelps wouldn’t last 72 hours in the water. Why would I want my food to? What’s the point? Flavor? After waiting 72 hours for a meal I would eat my shoes.

And in terms of technique, who couldn’t learn to master this? “Gee, I just couldn’t get the hang of sealing the bag. I don’t know how Keller does it!” Just imagine how long it would take to tape ‘Iron Chef Sous Vide.’ You could become a doctor in less time.

I absolutely love many classic French cooking techniques, and I’ll admit, I’m intimidated by some. Sous vide doesn’t make either list. I’m in no hurry to cook slower.  And on the opposite end of the spectrum,  I won’t be dragging home any canisters of liquid nitrogen either. If I want the word ‘extreme’ used to describe anything about my meal it had better be the flavor and not the cooking method.

Extremely flavorful? Qui. Extremely slow? Absolument pas!

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. September 27, 2012

    “case of wine while we wait”……if that’s happening, I’m going to sous vide everything.

  2. September 27, 2012

    Stop yer wine’n.

  3. nyc-chef permalink
    September 28, 2012

    You my friend need to educate yourself a little better before running off on a rant like this. Ignorance is not a substitute for fact. There are many arguments to make against sous-vide, but when you make statements that are totally false it makes your entire argument look stupid. First, sous-vide is translated to “under vacuum” and does not refer to a cooking process. Especially one that takes 72 hours. Only a few things are cooked sous-vide for 72 hours and that is done by personal choice, not by necessity. Like putting a pork shoulder in a smoker for 24 hours. Or a long braise. Do you need to smoke pork for 24 hours? No. But is it delicious? Hell yeah. The only reason to go 72 hours is if you really want to break down collagen in a load bearing cut of meat, like a short rib, rendering the most tender piece of meat you ever had. But since you decided to do zero research on this subject here a quick primer: Fish sous vide…20 minutes. Veg sous vide…15 minutes. Porterhouse steak sous-vide…1 hour. Pasta sous vide…actually anyone who uses sous vide or knows anything about cooking would laugh in your face at this idea. It makes you sound like you’d give a James Beard Award to Applebee’s. And your whole argument of waiting for 72 hours before you can eat a meal is just plain dumb. Do you wait for all your guests to arrive before you start cooking the turkey on Thanksgiving? There are so many arguments to make about sous-vide, but this by far is the dumbest one I have ever seen. Ever.

    PS. The 55 degrees is Celsius which is about 131 F. The temp of medium rare. Which yes applies to some meats. But saying it’s the common temperature for everything is…well, you probably get it by now.

  4. September 28, 2012

    My heatfelt appreciation to you, NYC-CHEF for your brief but passionate class on the method behind sous-vide. Perhaps you are new to our wonderful little blog, or maybe you were just having a bad day, but if you really thought that this was a serious rant you might want to reread it. It is written to appear idiotic and uninformed so I’m a little suprised at how you would think that anyone could actually consider sou-vide pasta. A dumb argument? Indeed sir. Dumb is what I do. I really thought that those with an educated background in the culinary arts would have no problem recognizing that anything this preposterous would be anything BUT a joke. I’ll agree not to pick on this method again if you’ll agree to take some time off and get a sense of humor.

    PS. I wasn’t kidding when I said that I appreciated your response. I did. Passionate chefs like yourself seem to be in short supply. Don’t let us idiots rattle you.

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