A happy New Year to you all! *cue: party poppers, streamers, confetti, etc*
To be honest the Christmas and the New Year period felt like eons ago, especially after having spent it overseas and with mad last minute dashing about just before leaving. Flights were booked well in advance but packing coincided with the usual end of year rush and trying to catch up with various people before they disappeared on respective holidays themselves. An experimental sous-vide-cum-Christmas dinner was organised with the usual suspects Chez Délicieuse et Poisson – something I’ve been wanting to do since slow cooking eggs in our thermos kettle.
The table was set and a wreath of bread (made with this recipe) was on the table for when guests arrived. A generous amount of unsalted butter pre-mixed with truffle salt was on offer to slather over said bread. Shots of cauliflower soup laced with truffle oil and shredded parmesan were served as an appetiser with lavosh crackers alongside.
The first course of ‘Bacon & Egg on Toast’ was constructed with a base of croutons tossed in truffle oil, upholding a slow-cooked 60/60 egg and topped with bacon crumbs. The slightly retro parfait glasses they were served in were a find when clearing out stuff at my mother-in-law’s!
The second course was sous-vide chuck steak, a cut normally reserved for stewing, served with cauliflower purée and green salad. Had the weather been colder, I would’ve attempted cooking some vegetables sous-vide as accompaniments. An earlier trial run (pictured below) saw a corn and avocado salsa served alongside instead, and the steak cooked to medium after an hour’s bath at 60°C. Lower the temperature slightly to 55°C and you’ll get more of a medium rare.
There is plenty of online literature for sous-vide cooking tips, and the biggest take-home message is that care must be taken for protein to reach a minimum temperature in order to kill off harmful bacteria. The resulting meat is more tender and juicy, but what doesn't seem to be mentioned is that it cooks to an unappetising grey colour when you fish it out of the water bath – but all is rectified once the steak has been seared in a hot pan!
And dessert? Well, it was more of the cheesecake ice-cream served with strawberries and crushed digestive biscuits. I had toyed with the idea of cooking the strawberries sous-vide as well, but got lazy in the end. Like all dinners, this one took a bit of planning and prepping however, overall, it felt less stressful as there was hardly any last-minute cooking involved. Cooking sous-vide takes the pressure off strict timing in that respect, and I’m all for less stress in the kitchen.