Food escapades in modernist cuisine

Benefits of Sous Vide Cooking

As you can tell by now, I'm a big fan of cooking food sous vide. I think the results are generally fantastic for what amounts to very little actively managed cooking time. I'll be the first to admit that sous vide isn't the best way to cook everything - there are cases where you can achieve superior taste and texture via a different method (e.g. grilling, smoking). Despite that, I think sous vide is a great cooking technique that every serious cook should have in his repetoire. Last year at a cooking demonstration, Heston Blumenthal, the famous chef from the Fat Duck, asserted that sous vide cooking would one day "revolutionize home cooking". While that day may not be anytime soon, I have to say I agree.

What I love about sous vide cooking is how little work is actually involved. Yes, there's a little thought that is required ahead of time in terms of planning meals, but aside from that, there's not much really to physically do. You place your ingredients in a bag or pouch, seal it up, throw it in your sous vide setup, and let it go. That's about it. You don't have to babysit a pot on the stove or monitor a protein that is being sauteed in a pain. This hands-off approach is is especially helpful and convenient for me as a working professional - I can throw in a chuck roast before bed at night, wake up and go to work, and then come back home to a perfectly cooked, ready to eat meal.

There are many benefits to sous vide cooking, but what I consider to be the biggest benefit of all is consistency. Having studied finance in college, I tend to think of things in terms of risk and reward, and in thinking about food quality, what it comes down to is a reduction in risk, or shall we say "variability". What I mean is that when you use a traditional cooking method (e.g. grill a piece of beef or roast a piece of chicken), while the taste be may be superior (and even that is debatable), there's very little room for error. Leave the beef on the grill for a minute or two too long and it's over-cooked. Take the chicken out of the oven a few minutes too early, and it's raw and unsafe to consume. On the other hand, when you sous vide a protein, you set the water to the desired end temperature of the protein and the internal temp of the protein can never go beyond that - that essentially means you virtually eliminate the possibility of overcooked food. You have ultimate control over the process, and the results are virtually perfect, time after time.


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