Burns My Bacon: Sous Vide

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!